The main character in this novel is Daniel Grey. He's a young high school senior, a warrior from 541 A.D., the younger brother of a nasty man that falls in love with his sister-in-law, and a World War I soldier recovering from wounds at a country home in England. Yes, Daniel is all of these people. He has the unfortunate ability to remember all of his past lives every time he comes back to earth.
The one constant in Daniel's life is his search for Sophia, the woman he fell in love with in his first life as a warrior. Their relationship doesn't get off to a very good start because he sets her hut on fire and she dies. After that life, Daniel meets her again as Sophia, his sister-in-law in another life. His brother is back as a cruel drunkard who treats Sophia terribly. Daniel rescues her and keeps her safe, at the cost of his own life.
Daniel wanders through 1000 years of lifetimes, always searching for Sophia. Sometimes he finds her; other times she doesn't show up for hundreds of years. She doesn't remember her past lives, so Daniel is always having to start over. They never have a happy ending. Until 2004, in a high school in Virginia. They meet again--this time, the same age, with no barriers. Daniel approaches Lucy, and scares her away. He's in dispair, thinking he's ruined his chances once again.
Years go by, and Lucy is haunted by Daniel's memory. She had a crush on him in high school, and can't get him out of her mind. As she works through her college years, she explores the strange dreams she has, and becomes convinced Daniel is meant to be with her. If only she could find him! And why did he call her Sophia? Lucy works on unraveling the mystery of her connection to Daniel.
Do they ever get together? Is it possible to have a happy ending, after so many centuries of sadness and near misses? Who is out there, determined to stop them being together?
I loved this book. Daniel is such a thoughtful, well developed character. The book travels back and forth between contemporary Virginia and Daniel's past lives. He contemplates what he's learned, and why he is one of the few souls that remember everything both good and bad he's ever done in every life. Lucy/Sophia is a young woman who plans on a safe, uncomplicated life, but realizes the here and now are based on what happened before.
The book is not maudlin--it draws you in until you're eagerly anticipating their reunion and hopeful that finally! Daniel and Lucy will come together and find a way to complete their journey.
Read a different kind of love story. If you are a fan of The Time Traveler's Wife , you will enjoy this novel. A bit of history, a lot of love, a lot of nail biting. Good stuff.