Timeline by Michael Crichton
I first visited Costa Rica in March of 1993 and I did so by bicycle. I can still picture my ride at the end of Arenal Lake after a long, beautiful day with the lake’s namesake volcano in the distance. I was close to my goal for the day when ahead I saw the head and torso of a small dinosaur peer out of the tall, dry grass along the side of the road! Velociraptor immediately jumped into my mind, straight out of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. The velociraptor is the lethal, little dinosaur Crichton used as the protagonist of his 1990 blockbuster novel. Immediately, I recognized that it was just an iguana. But as I did the math and calculated the height of the pampas grass in relation to the head and chest of the creature, I realized I’d seen a four-foot long iguana! That was about as close as I ever wanted to be to Crichton’s fictional critter.
I’ve been a Crichton fan ever since, and when I read Timeline, his latest novel, I was again transported back in time – this time to the 14th century Dordogne river valley in southwestern France.
If you don’t know it by now, ask my wife Paola what her favorite tour is and, without hesitation, she will tell you our Dordogne bicycle tour. As a Medieval and Renaissance literature specialist, she loves the rich history of this region. Well, if you like history (and food, and great bicycle rides), you, too, will love this tour, but you’ll also enjoy Timeline.
Crichton begins his narrative in late 20th-century Arizona but, as only he can do, he quickly transports both you and the protagonists to 14th-century France. Indeed, you are transported to one of the castles we actually visit on our bicycle tour. Crichton takes you, breathlessly, through the hills and forests of the 14th-century Dordogne valley as he shows you the culture of intrigue and violence that marked the late Middle Ages.
Whether you are going with us to the Dordogne or have already been, you’ll enjoy learning about life here 650 years ago through the vivid imagination of this great traveler and writer!
And for your airplane reading: bring along a paperback copy of Crichton’s Travels. Published in 1989, before he made it big with his more imaginative novels, this is a collection of early essays by the budding writer. A combination of his personal odyssey of the mind and his actual early travels, it is great travel reading. It is split into two parts, the first being essays about his early years as a medical student and the second part about his later travels. My favorite essay is "Kilimanjaro," a vivid account of his ill-prepared attempt to climb the great mountain.
For more information on our tours in France and the Dordgone River Valley, click on the links below: