So, in our search for light but not lightweight summer fiction, let’s note six historical novels that could be recommended to mothers-in-law. Ian Mortimer’s The Outcasts of Time (Pegasus Books, 2018) has its protagonist, John, dying in 1348 from the bubonic plague. Then he mysteriously receives a great gift: He can live in health for six more days, with each day jumping by 99 years.
The movement from 1447 to 1546 to 1645 and so on immerses John in swirling social currents and technological advance, but he is frustrated in his attempt (within a medieval Catholic worldview) to earn salvation by doing a truly good deed. He eventually realizes that in marrying and fathering he “did one small but truly great thing.”
Gregory Benford’s The Berlin Project (Simon & Schuster, 2017) also plays with time: The premise is that the United States developed a nuclear bomb a year earlier than history records, and used it on Nazi Germany. The action slows at times with brief, understandable descriptions of the physics of bombs, but the interplay of humans makes it a page-turner.