Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Time Between: A Novel by Karen White

The Time Between: A Novel. Karen White. Penguin Books (USA). June 2013. 352 pp. hbk. ISBN #: 9780451239860.

“There is how we were before, and how we are now, and the time between is spent choosing which doors to open, and which to close.” Yes, this is the essence of two families’ stories, lives in which choices were made that have shadowed years upon years right up to today.  For Eleanor Murray it is her vivacious, adventurous personality that called her to issue a dare to her sister with life-changing, tragic results.  However, a larger choice is truly what has since affected the relationship between the two sisters, the choice to live riddled with guilt and shame rather than freedom and progress. Eve, Eleanor’s sister, marries Glen to whom Eleanor was once attracted and they are only now learning to live for the future. 

At the same time it is Eleanor’s boss, Finn Beaufain, who hires her as a companion to his Aunt Helen and trusts her with his fragile, brave and wise young daughter.  They all soon get to know each other much more deeply, learning of dreams unrealized, of musical talent stymied by grief, of beautiful art holding past secrets with historical and personal significance defying words, of trust betrayed and lost or restored, and of love’s possibilities.

Three sisters have beautiful voices in WWII Hungary.  Due to German occupation, they are forced to flee their beloved homeland.  How will they fare, when one has fallen in love with a German soldier and one a Jewish resistance fighter?  And why does the remaining sister hold such bitterness and self-loathing because of that past and how it led to her present dread.  What is it about Eleanor, Helen’s companion, that reminds her so much of the past?  What is it that recognizes a parallel story, one that she uses to push Eleanor into a future free of burdens?

An accident is just that, isn’t it?  A secret kept to protect a beloved sister is hidden for a noble purpose, isn’t it?  How important is it to forgive another person and one’s self as well? And even more precious is the question of how can a precious home on the beautiful island of Edisto, South Carolina be a tender, powerful healing factor in the lives of multiple people?  Will nature work its divine magic on those who have eyes to see, ears to hear and senses that need touching? Are these souls open just enough to allow the salve of nature’s beauty to mend ailing hearts and spirits?

The Time Between: A Novel is a beautiful, poignant story that one doesn’t want to end.  Karen White’s deft manipulation of a complex plot is clearly matured in this story that is even better than her previous novels.  A story that is so painful is here crafted and presented with exquisite beauty and sensitivity that is a joy to read and experience.  This is a MUST read as it is indeed superb fiction!

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