Susan McDonough Sanchez

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform / 106 pages / (May 4, 2013)

ISBN: 1484828240

All right. Here’s a quick overview of Snail’s Pace. Pay attention and you will get the gist of it, and move on to actually reading it. Okay: picture Chow-Yun Fat or Yul Brynner as a really big snail. Got it? If you can do that, then you can understand immediately the plot of this book — call it Anna and the Snail of Siam. You’ll notice that I didn’t even include Rex Harrison, because first you’d have to imagine him as a native of Siam; that would just be stupid.

I think you have the idea now, minus a few twists and tweaks. Snail’s Pace is very much the same story, with the culture and physical contrasts taken to a delightful extreme. Oh, and minus some of the tragedy — a move I heartily applaud.

Susannah Maureen Chambers McKay is seeing the rather rough side of the Victorian era. Raised to be an educated, independent Englishwoman, she is finding out that the world is not ready for her self-sufficient attitude. The search for employment is meeting some ego-bruising dead ends until she is approached by a stranger on the street who reluctantly offers her the position of a lifetime, and what sounds like the adventure she’s dreamed of.

Let me stop now, before I give all of the plot away. Given the title, and the fact that I’ve already asked you to imagine the sensual Chow-Yun Fat as a snail, you can see where this is headed.

You can’t see though, the variety of missteps, misadventures, and misunderstandings that the dauntless Miss McKay is about to experience. Half the fun of the book is in how she reacts and adapts to the strange, new environment. It is possibly more adventure than she had bargained for, but what’s done is done.

Neither can you see the outrageous cast of characters that Sanchez has created for your reading pleasure. Unlike the wrinkled noses and altered hairlines of aliens on some popular shoes, the alien aspect of these creatures is more than skin-deep. But, the Shills and the Creels and all the rest of the menagerie on the ship, also have their aspects that we, in our hubris, call “human.”

Maybe a better word for it is “universal.” All creatures great and small, there are somethings that we just can’t escape. That’s a point that Sanchez manages to suggest in a gentle, amusing way in this comedy of manners that is unlike any you’ve read up to this time.

It’s not perfect. There are some reactions that go a bit over the top, a scene or two that are somewhat self-conscious, but it is such a fast read that you probably won’t be aware of any of this until after you’ve finished the book — if you notice them at all.

That is another thing Snail’s Pace has going for it: this is a one-sitting book. If you still aren’t sure of the value of e-books, here is a perfect model to test-drive. Take it out for a spin and you’ll see you really don’t need paper to enjoy a good story.