Happy Monday! I am continuing my tour of great summer reads today with Karen White's The Time Between. A book that debuted on The New York Times Bestseller List. This is a must read summer book as it is beautifully written, emotional and unforgettable. This is the tale of two sets of sisters who test the limits of the bonds of sisterhood. It is about love, loss, forgiveness, letting go of the past, and learning to love. I thoroughly enjoyed this poignant book, and highly recommend it to those looking for a book that is memorable and wonderful. Before I get to my review, let me tell you a bit about the author Karen White. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end for your chance to win this book.
After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone with the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book, In the Shadow of the Moon (published in August 2000). This book was nominated for the prestigious RITA award in 2001 in two separate categories. Her books have since been nominated for numerous national contests including two more RITAs, the Georgia Author of the Year Award and she has twice won the National Readers’ Choice Award for her novels, Learning to Breathe and On Folly Beach. White currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—southern women’s fiction—and has recently expanded her horizons into writing a bestselling mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2011, her thirteenth novel, The Beach Trees, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at number fifteen and her fourteenth novel, The Strangers on Montagu Street, debuted at number fourteen on the New York Times bestseller list.White hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in London, England. She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, two children, and a spoiled Havanese dog named Quincy (who also appears in several of her books). For more information, visit Karen on her website and Facebook.
Here is my review:
The Time Between by Karen White
A stunning new novel of betrayal and forgiveness from the New York Times bestselling author. Thirty-four-year-old Eleanor Murray is consumed with guilt for causing the accident that paralyzed her sister—and for falling in love with her sister’s husband. But when her boss offers her a part-time job caring for his elderly aunt, Helena, Eleanor accepts, hoping this good deed will help atone for her mistakes. On the barrier island of Edisto, Eleanor bonds with Helena over their mutual love of music. Drawing the older woman out of her depression, Eleanor learns of her life in Hungary, with her sister, before and during World War II. She hears tales of passion and heartache, defiance and dangerous deception. And when the truth of Helena and her sister’s actions comes to light, Eleanor may finally allow herself to move past guilt and to embrace the song that lies deep in her heart…
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by NAL Hardcover
Source: Publisher for an unbiased review
Four and a half stars: A poignant tale of sisters, love, loss and forgiveness.
Eleanor lost her passion for life fourteen years ago when she dared her sister to climb a tree, resulting in a fall and paralysis. Now, Eleanor feels it is her lot in life to help care for her disabled sister. Twice in her life disaster struck, the other being when her father died. Thus, Eleanor has forgotten about living and passion and feeling her music. That all changes the night she runs into her boss at the local bar. Her boss after hearing Eleanor play piano, offers her an additional job that involves playing piano and helping to care for his aging aunt on the island where Eleanor grew up. What follows is a difficult friendship that encompasses learning to forgive and live again. Can Eleanor let go of her past and open her heart to love?
What I Liked:
- First and foremost, I loved the writing in this one. Ms. White knows how to write a story steeped in emotion. There is a great depth of feeling in this one as it walks us through the often difficult relationship of sisters and the deep bonds that are formed as well as love, loss, forgiveness and learning to let go of the past. Ms. White truly has a gift for writing and there are so many quotable passages in this one that caught my eye. This book is poignant and moving and it will be one that you won't soon forget. It is packed full of beautiful messages that are healing to the soul.
- I loved the characters in this one, from the emotionally crippled Eleanor to the curmudgeonly Helena. Add in a bubbly, precocious ten year old, Gigi, and a handsome, caring divorced father and you have the makings of an amazing cast. Eleanor and Helena are multi layered and damaged, and I loved peeling back their layers in order to get a better understanding of them. Helena was my favorite. The ninety year old is sharp tongued, difficult to please, sarcastic and unafraid to speak the truth. I loved the wicked banter between Helena and Eleanor. What I liked most, though, is the two women start out as odds and even perhaps enemies, but by the end they come to an understanding and they help each other to heal.
- This novel is all about character growth. Both Eleanor and Helena are holding onto a great deal of baggage and they have lost sight of happiness. It takes being thrown together in a relationship of head butting and conflict before they truly open their eyes. Eleanor especially undergoes a tremendous transformation as she lets go of her guilt and heals.
- I enjoyed the mystery wrapped into this one. From the get go, it is evident that Helena is hurting because she is harboring some dark secrets. Bit by bit, Eleanor chips away at her crusty exterior in order to find the truth, and once the truth spills forth, it is heartbreaking and sad as well as interesting. My ached for the two Hungarian refugees, especially after I learned how each tried in to protect the other's happiness.
And The Not So Much:
- I was a tad bit disappointed in the romance. There is a great deal of buildup and I was expecting an explosion of sparks and all that, instead it just lights quietly like a match touching a candle wick. It takes the entire book to get there as well. However, I was satisfied with the final outcome it is sweet and happy and just what I was expecting.
- I wished that Ms. White had expanded Helena's story of the past a bit more. Helena's history involves her escaping Hungary at the end of the World War II during a night of bombing by the Americans. Her journey is harsh, and she is forced to make some heart wrenching choices that will haunt her forever. There is a great deal of buildup before you finally get to Helena's recollection of the past, and when she finally tells her tale, I thought it was over too quickly. I would have loved for it to be more drawn out. I wanted to more on what it was like to escape Hungary during that terrifying night, and how the sisters managed to gather the courage to forge a new life after their heartbreak. Don't get me wrong, it is a good storyline, but I wanted a bit more. I love the World War II era, and I would have preferred more time spent on that time period.
- There are three view points in the story: Eleanor, Helena and Eve, Eleanor's sister. I struggled a bit with Eve's voice. Eve's part is much smaller compared to the other two women. I just never felt like her character was as well developed and I had a hard time connecting with her. Perhaps it was just me.
- Eleanor doesn't seem to have ever really had a romantic relationship of her own. She has spent her years pining after her sister's boyfriend and eventual husband. It is evident that Glen has feelings for Eleanor as well, but it is never very clear as to what the extent. It doesn't appear that there was any infidelity, but I wanted to know a bit more.
- This book has a slow and steady pace. I know the plodding storyline might discourage some readers, but I recommend you stick with it and give it a chance. Yes, it takes awhile to catch fire, but once it does it is wondrous. Just be patient and enjoy the writing.
The Time Between is a lovely book that takes you on an emotional journey that focuses on the need to let go of the past, forgive and learning to live and love again. For some people, it may take a lifetime. The point is to get rid of the baggage and live for the moment. Grab tight on your chance at happiness and don't let go. I would highly recommend you check out this beautifully written book. I am glad that I took a chance on this book, it is one that I won't forget.
"Despite our past, which lay like an unweeded garden between us, she was still my sister."
"I just had no idea how to tell him that he was wrong, that a broken heart stayed broken even in the company of another."
"The relationship between sisters is a little piece of heaven and hell. But we share the same soul."
"You need to find somebody whose dreams match your own. Somebody's who's not afraid to touch the sun."
"I suppose that the masks we choose to wear can become permanent if we are not careful."
"I've found that you can't measure happiness the way you measure yards in a race. You just learn to recognize it when it arrives so you can enjoy it while it lasts."
"We've all made mistakes, Eleanor. It's moving beyond them that makes us the people that we are."
"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."
"That adversity in life does not rob your heart of beauty. It simply teaches it a new song to sing."
"We live, we love. These are the choices we are given, to open doors or to close them. It is all we have, and it is enough."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.
I am so glad that I had the chance to read this one. It is definitely one of my choice picks for summer reads. Thanks to the wonderful folks over at Penguin who are sponsoring this giveaway, I am able to offer a chance to win The Time Between. To enter please read the Contest Policies and then fill out the Rafflecopter this is open to U.S. residents only. Good Luck!
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