A man encounters a mysterious woman who enables him to relive his previous incarnations, each in a separate dream.
When historian Art Zemaitis meets Laima, an ancient yet oddly familiar Lithuanian woman, he expresses his craving to know about the past. Laima invites him to look deeply into his own history–just drink her herbal concoction, one cup for each past life, and he’ll experience his former selves, though not in chronological order. This premise sets up the subsequent chapters, in which readers sample life as an ancient priestess, a Vietnam vet, an Indian boy, a Revolutionary War patriot and a blockade runner, among other identities, scenarios that suggest the author’s interest in and enthusiasm for history. Oddly, the more far-fetched lives also tend to be the most imaginative and interesting, while the life closest to the one Cross might have lived, that of a Vietnam vet, is the least engaging. Despite the variety of historical settings, the lead-ins are predictable. At the beginning of each chapter, Art, exposed to a memory by place or object, feels lightheaded. He then passes out for 30 to 36 hours, after experiencing his prior life and sometimes death, and usually wakes to find faithful but skeptical girlfriend Julie at his side. Unfortunately, Cross has dreamed up so many incarnations that there’s little time for character development for any of the them, and Art’s own life, which he checks in and out of, remains as forgettable as a hotel room.
Uneven prose that is not up to its potentially interesting premise.