FeaturedHistorical Fiction

The Bridge to Rembrandt


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Time travel, Old Masters, discovering treasure and the finding of Saskia.

Robert is sitting at a café in Amsterdam thinking about his work and his women. He’s an events organiser, but that’s seasonal, so he’s started a side business with Mark dealing in reproductions of famous paintings. He also has two women, wife Belinda, who’s none too happy about the side business, and Saskia. He picks up an old coin. He’s a diabetic and needs to inject himself regularly with insulin. His paintings business has begun dealing in copies of living artists, and one of them is suing. Saskia, too, wants a change. His son buys an antique chest online, and the owner lives in the house next to Saskia’s.

Suddenly, crossing the bridge over the Brouwersgracht, he’s transported 3 years back in time—how? why?—to the day he first met Saskia. He begins reliving his life, but the second time around, he manages everything better. He has a propensity for making ‘predictions’. He’s boringly out on a very ordinary first date with the Saskia only he knows he will fall in love with, while we’re thinking—hang on, man, you just travelled back in time!

Suddenly, crossing the bridge, he’s again transported back in time—how? why?—to 1945, where there is an entirely different ‘Saskia’. The two become embroiled in the Dam Square Massacre, which Robert predicts just in time. But he’s low on insulin.

Crossing the bridge, again he goes back to 1886, and finds himself in the middle of the Eel Riot. Again, he meets a ‘Saskia’. His lack of insulin will become life-threatening within weeks. He is ‘beginning to enjoy the learning curve with a new Saskia each time’. Sometimes the way the different Saskias explain things to him seems a bit unnatural. WE know she’s talking to a time traveller, but SHE wouldn’t have known it.

Crossing the bridge, again he goes back to 1664, and he’s in the middle of the Plague. This time, ‘Saskia’ recognises him. It’s the 2019 Saskia; she’s time travelled, too, only in this time period, she has a husband and is mistress of a large house. Her next-door neighbour was apprentice to Rembrandt. He has been making the chest which Robert’s son bought in 2019, and 2019 Saskia has the other of the pair. He discovers something remarkable about the chest.   

Crossing the bridge, he’s back again, and everything is different for him with his two women.

What would you do if you time travelled? I would first find a confidant—otherwise, it would just be too lonely--and the first thing you want to do is to figure out how it worked and have someone to help you do so. Then I’d make my way to the bookies and bet on some things I knew were going to happen. Then I’d try to answer some archaeological/historical mysteries. Was this really this way or that way back then? Or I’d try to influence history, try to prevent something awful from happening. Robert just keeps seeking out Saskia. He does take photos, though, which is another thing I’d do.

This works better than some time travel novels. The hero does face some adversity, and he changes due to his experience. Satisfactorily, he also gets his hands on a historic treasure. It’s well written and well edited, and though we never fully understand how the time travel mechanism works, it works.

Reviewed by

Susie Helme is an American ex-pat living in London, after sojourns in Tokyo, Paris and Geneva, with a passion for ancient history and politics, and magic, mythology and religion. After a career in mobile communications journalism, she has retired to write historical novels and proofread/edit novels.

About the author

Nelson Foley is British, with a background in scientific publishing, and a passion for culture, art and travel. He has lived in and near Amsterdam for more years than he can count. The intimacy of having lived in the city, crossed the bridges, and meandered the canals underpins his story telling. view profile

Published on June 25, 2021

Published by San San BV

90000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

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