The Watchmaker’s Doctor – An Erase and Rewind Novella
The Watchmaker’s Doctor(An Erase and Rewind Novella) was published on April 1st, 2018. While I was given a copy of the e-book, all thoughts are my own. If you would like to learn more about G.M.T. Schuilling, click here. And while I prefer my book reviews to be spoiler-free, I have mentioned some minor character details in this review.
The Watchmaker’s Doctor is the first novella in Erase and Rewind, a collection for new adults that delves into the biggest regrets of the dying, and follows their stories of what might have been.
Anaya, a disillusioned, thirty-five-year-old doctor, has been looking after Gregory, a retired watchmaker and resident of an aged care facility. On her last visit, he gifts her his final creation, an exquisitely-crafted watch, knowing she will die tragically that very day. It will turn back time.
With one condition: she must choose the time and place to reset the clock, and redo just one thing in her life. Regrets, it seems, are easy to realise when you’re dying. Hers was dropping out of school at seventeen.
But what if, after one small change, her life would become much worse than it was? Or unthinkable disasters result from a single step off her path? When the alternative is die now, her choice makes itself. And so, Anaya’s story begins with her last thought. Would I have done this if I had any option but the grave?
10% of G. M. T. Schuilling’s proceeds from The Watchmaker’s Doctor will go to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. The Foundation is committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding scientific research grants to improve treatment. Their vision is to ultimately develop cures and methods of prevention to enable people with mental health issues to live full, happy, and productive lives.
When faced with death, it’s often said that life flashes before your eyes. What if instead, you were offered a chance to go back in time and change the course of your life, knowing that the timing of your death could not be altered? Why in the face of our own immortality is an examination of our lives and the choices we’ve made suddenly so dire? If you had to make the choice, would you go back and change your youth or continue on to old age? Why does the fear of dying unhappily (whether we know we are at the time or not), make us second guess our decisions and point us in what should have been the right direction? At just under 100 pages, this novella by author G.M.T. Schuilling neatly packs in all of these questions much more simply than expected.
Anaya is our physician protagonist, and after a brief meeting with her patient Gregory, faces her moment of death in the very first chapter. However her death does not come, with the help of Gregory, his watch, and his ability to turn back time. He explains all of this to Anaya and tells her that she can go back to a point in her past and alter the course of her life. She chooses to go back to the day, at seventeen, when she had decided to drop out of high school.
Anaya wakes up in her parent’s home, and through the course of the novella, changes the course of her parents’ marriage, grapples with starting a romantic relationship with the knowledge and barriers of the abusive relationship she had been in, decides to attend college, and meets back up with Greg to discuss the time travel complexities that are now placed on her shoulders. There is such shock value in the last few pages of this novella, and to wait for the next installment to come out is going to feel like an eternity.
The settings G.M.T. Schuilling describes in The Watchmaker’s Doctor are picture perfect – they are far from flowery but quite picturesque. The characters are worth getting invested in, and there are many elements apart from time travelling that take the spotlight in the story. Mental health is the most obvious one, and more specifically, Bipolar II Disorder. Both Anaya and her father suffer from it, although during this second chance, Anaya makes positive choices to help them both suffer less.
Another topic is certainly related to mental health, but is perhaps a more subjective one – and that is the struggle of identifying that we deserve to be happy. Even with this second chance, Anaya’s insecurity, and understandable caution towards not wanting to make things worse, makes her question the actions she takes – actions she felt completely sure of when she partook in them. Luckily, her friends and family are quite supportive and dedicated to her (as she is to them).
While there are quite a few high points in this novella, there is tragedy. Like I previously mentioned, Anaya gets quite the shock when tragedy strikes, and Greg reveals more details that he was purposely keeping from her. The story seems to shift quite drastically at the end, although the foreboding feeling is mixed with excitement to read what happens next.