I first picked up this book at a drug store in Ocean City, Maryland in 1974. I had no idea who Donald Harington was -- I just liked the picture on the cover. It seemed to be a nice thick romance-type book -- perfect for a week's reading at the beach. My eighteen-year-old self read right through the novel, and it was unlike anything I had ever read before. I had never forgotten it, and when I ran across my battered coverless copy when cleaning out my attic, I decided to try and find a nice clean copy of it. It is still in print, and rightly so. I ordered the entire Harington catalogue -- this wonderfully imaginative author has been writing fascinating gems since the early 1960s, and he is still turning out excellent prose. If you have never discovered him, do so at once.
This novel is the story of Diana Stoving, a young woman, newly graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, who is blithely driving her new Porsche to Philadelphia with a fellow graduate when they have car trouble. Pulling over in a one-horse town, they are forced to wait for a part to arrive so that the car can be repaired. The friend, eager to make a date in Philadelphia, goes on by bus. Our heroine waits with her car, and while idly flipping through the local newspaper comes across an article about a local teacher who is doing age-regression experiments by putting his students under hypnosis. The teacher is trying to prove the existence of past lives, a la "The Search for Bridey Murphy." Suddenly Diana realizes that one of the students, a high school senior named Day Whittacker, is channeling the memories of (or even was once, in a former life) Diana's long-dead grandfather. This grandfather had kidnapped Diana when she was only four years old and was shot to death by police in front of her.
Thus begins a fascinating search for the truth of Day's real identity, Diana's purpose in life, and how Daniel, the deceased grandfather, binds together these two young people. The novel is a wonderful love story. But it's also a story about identity, the nature of time, how death and eternity might work, why memory and family are important, and what it means to be alive. It's also sexy as all get-out.
I loved this novel when I was eighteen and I love it more than thirty years later. I recommend not only this book, but all of Harington's novels. If you are looking for a well-written, imaginative read, I cannot be too enthusiastic about this talented author. Book groups take note: This book is something very different which would appeal to both men and women readers.