What if the Beatles had stayed together? What would it have looked like, what would have remained the same? What would have changed? Once There Way a Way, as any good alternate history, give plausible answers to these questions.
I found this book through the Sidewise Awards, which it won for 2018. It’s written as a retrospective on the Beatles’ careers since a The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson interview that is the turning point between the novel’s history and our own. Although I’m not the true Beatles fan in my household–that honor belongs to my spouse–I know enough of the history of the band, the men, and the times to see the similarities, the differences, and to be able to judge the plausibility between the two.
Zabel takes events that happened in our history and changes them into ones that could have happened. He changes songs, creates albums, films, interviews, and historical events, and gives his world the rich details that make it come alive.
Finally, it’s lovely to think about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones getting into a friendly competition as to who can tour the longest. I enjoyed the book and wish we could listen to these wonderful albums.
Zabel, Bryce. Once There Was a Way: What If the Beatles Stayed Together? New York, NY: Diversion Books, 2017 (December 5). 308 pages. 4 stars.