Time and Chance
By Alan Brennert
Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1990
Hardcover, 281 pages
Did your life turn out differently than you expected it would? Did you give up on your childhood dreams and take the safe, practical “keep the status quo” path in adulthood? Do you regret the decisions you made?
What if you got the chance to live two lives in one? What if you were given the chance to live out all of your dreams? Would you do it?
This is the concept explored in Alan Brennert’s cleverly crafted novel, Time and Chance.
Rick Cochrane always wanted to be a big time actor on Broadway. He acted in small stage productions in his hometown but instead of pursuing his acting dreams, he took the safe route and settled down into domestic life, marrying his college sweetheart and starting a family. Rick’s job as an insurance claims adjuster leaves him numb and hungering for what he gave up thirteen years prior. He spends his days looking back, feeling he has nothing to look forward to.
To understand this story further, one must expand one’s mind and imagine that life is taking place on more than one plain of reasoning.
One evening while away in Boston, Rick goes for a walk in the rain. Stopping near a house he sees the figure of a man and woman outlined in the living room window. When the woman moves away from the window, Rick is startled beyond belief to find himself looking at none other than … himself.
Enter suave, and wise in the ways of the world, Richard Cochrane. Richard also had the same aspirations as Rick when he was young so he followed his dreams to New York City and became a successful Broadway actor. But Richard’s life is not exactly as he envisioned it would be either. His personal life is in tatters. A broken marriage has left him heartbroken and what follows is a string of short lived and very unsuccessful relationships that have left him feeling unsatisfied and empty.
Both men question their life choices and both wonder what their lives would have been like if they’d done the opposite- Rick, having the courage to leave his small town and became an actor and Richard, having stayed in his hometown and married the woman he loved.
They are about to find out.
When the two men meet for the first time, shock soon turns to the realization that now they both have been given the unique opportunity to find out the what if’s of their existences.
Striking a deal the men trade lives, intending it to be for a specified period of time. They both want to know if indeed the grass is always greener on the other side.
But walking into your look alike’s life is not as simple as they had both anticipated. Both learn about the other’s lives and make their share of mistakes as well as some positive and negatives changes. Richard enjoys marital and family life with Rick’s wife and children while Rick pushes the limits with Richard’s more extravagant lifestyle.
When it is time for the two men to return to their original lives, suddenly they are neither one sure of anything anymore. Who really are they? Are they of a combination of the two lives and personalities?
This book is delightful in its complexities and heart wrenching in its many twists and turns. It is a real page-turner for anyone who has ever asked the question, “What if?” in their own life and clamored desperately for an answer.