Tim W. Brown Books

Second Acts (2010)

Second Acts is a comic historical novel set in 1830s America, a time of great social upheaval and reform fervor, not unlike the 1960s. The novel tells the story of a young man, Dan Connor, who has followed his wife Rachel and her lover Bruce Bilson, a University of Chicago physics professor and the inventor of time travel, into the past. Early in his journey he acquires a mystical sidekick, a transgender Potawatomi named Listening Rabbit (aka Bunny), and he befriends historical figures such as Albert Gallatin and Samuel J. Tilden.

Rachel and Bilson maddeningly stay one step ahead of Connor. But as life moves forward, Connor's fortunes rise while Bilson's fall, and Rachel attains fame as a lyceum speaker, the Oprah of antebellum America. Second Acts refutes F. Scott Fitzgerald's notion that "There are no second acts in American lives."


"Really clicking, Second Acts is a picaresque, sci-fi/western, such as Verne or Welles might have penned it. In subverting history Brown's tale celebrates it, with a scholar's eye for authentic details and at a pacing so swift the pages give off a nice breeze." -Peter Selgin


"Half-magical, half-farcical, Second Acts is full of vitality and humor, a modern update of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Second Acts is a sparkling gem of a book, one that inspires both contemplation and more than a few belly laughs." -Greg Downs


"Second Acts draws equally upon history and imagining, and the result is a brilliant book that Mark Twain might've written had he shared a brain with Jack Finney for awhile." -Sharon Mesmer