Earlier this year, I really enjoyed nostalgic mystery Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt. So much so I didn’t wait long to pick up this, Class of ’59, the next book in his American Journey series. Which also nicely ticks off the ‘title with a number in numbers’ for the What’s in a Name 2017 challenge.
In summer 2017, Mary Beth settles down for a quiet morning on her vacation in a family friend’s old mansion house in Southern California. Her peace is broken when she discovers a 1950’s attired trespasser in the garden, who seemingly appears and disappears into thin air. That trespasser is in fact Mark, the resident of the same house but in 1959, who had unwittingly time travelled through a tunnel in the basement. Before long they realise the miraculous opportunity they have, so Mary Beth and her sister Piper travel back to Mark for a journey of love, danger and adventure in the age of sock hops, poodle skirts, drive-ins and jukeboxes.
Heldt has chosen to split the narration of this book between four characters, rather than just one or two which I have experienced in his previous books. We see the more adult perspective of the 1950s through the point-of-views of the brokenhearted Mary Beth and all-round good guy Mark. I found both likeable characters and they suited each other well, although for me their relationship did have a slight insta-love feel to it. At the same time we experience the more exciting teenage scene of the 1950s, through the on/off angsty teen relationship between Piper and Mark’s brother Ben. I found these two less endearing but no less interesting.
Again I thought the author, Heldt, brought alive the time and place really well, with the school prom, lovers’ lane, college dinners, fashion, music and a touching encounter with an iconic, blonde bombshell. However even though I enjoyed seeing both aspects of this nostalgic age, I found myself less attached to the characters as I had to spread my attention between four of them and two blossoming relationships, in what is a relatively short novel. For that reason, I didn’t quite enjoy this book as much as the previous, Indiana Belle.
That said though, overall, I found the Class of ’59 was an enjoyable time travel romance, which was a light escapist read for my overworked brain. I still look forward to reading more of Heldt’s novels Okay read.
Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you read this? Any recommendations of other books set in the 1950s?
What’s in a Name 2017 – 4/6 (a title with a number in numbers)