All The Time In The World: A Novel. Caroline Angell. Holt, Henry and Company, Inc.. July 2016. 336 pp. ISBN#: 9781627794015.
Charlotte is a musician who is currently unemployed and wondering what she’s to do with her degrees and talents in music. She has a sometimes on and sometimes off boyfriend who is also a composer but for now she’s taken a job as a babysitter of the two McLean boys, Matty and George, in the upper East Side of Manhattan. She has no intention of making this a permanent job but she, like the reader, is quickly enamored of these two funny and caring little boys. Their parents, Scotty and Gretchen, are also unusual people who treat Charlotte as more than an employee, indeed a family member. The two boys are typical boys who keep this tale from seeming too good to be true.
The normal day-to-day events come to a devastating halt when Gretchen dies and the remainder of the story becomes very complex as each character attempts to deal with this searing loss. Charlotte knows she is only an employee but also knows she is such an integral part of this broken family that she cannot just walk away from them, adding another traumatic loss to the experiences of these lost little boys and their father. Some other characters, like Scotty’s brother, add to the humorous, edgy and sexy textures woven into this memorable story.
Caroline Angell has written a beautiful novel about loss and love that shows exceptional skill in exploring the multi-layered reactions to a family’s coping skills. No, it’s not depressing because the scenes are presented with remarkable sensitivity that also includes irony, laughter, and other “normal” scenes because life does go on in spite of the most grievous pain accompany loss. It’s also made even more fascinating as it weaves back and forth between the present, past and future. The reader never knows what to expect and this skillful presentation of time adds to the connected elements that weave together to form one unique story.
Very nicely done, Caroline Angell – highly recommended contemporary fiction!