Thursday, May 5, 2022

Review: Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald

Do you believe in fated love? What if the person you are fated to love dies before you meet them? Can a love that is meant to be combined with a special scientific phenomenon overcome the veil between the living and the dead? Lisa Grunwald's novel Time After Time, offers potential answers to these questions.

Joe Reynolds, a leverman for the railroad, is heading to work when he first spies a young woman who looks lost and out of place in Grand Central Station. Nora Lansing is coatless, luggageless, and dressed as a flapper despite it being 1937 and the midst of the Great Depression. A year later, Joe comes across Nora again still dressed inappropriately for the weather and the time. This time he offers to walk her home but along the way she disappears. He cannot get her out of his head. She will reappear again the following year. She is, in fact, a ghost and she reappears on the anniversary of her 1925 death in a subway accident when the phenomenon callled Manhattanhenge occurs. The fact of her death more than a decade before will not keep Joe and Nora from falling for each other. Together they learn the limits of Nora's existence, discovering that she disappears if she goes too far from Grand Central Station. Knowing this, somehow they build a life together within the constraints governing her existence, living and working in the Biltmore Hotel, shopping in the station stores, exploring the various places in the suprisingly vast city below the city. But the life they are living isn't a full one and eventually they'll have to make a decision about their future.

The premise of the novel was incredibly intriguing and Grunwald has done an amazing job bringing the 1930s and 40s in New York City to life. The descriptions of Grand Central Station and the city as it moves from the Depression to WWII and beyond are superb. The heady, starry eyed romance fades as the difficulties of Joe's life and obligations outside of the station and Nora's desire for more independence infringe on the fantastical semi-life he and Nora have built together. In this way the novel is more realistic than a romance, even if one of the main characters is a ghost. The novel's pacing is somewhat uneven, stretching out in the middle to feel overly long but the wrap up of the ending is brief and perfectly calibrated. This is meant to be an epic love story and although it doesn't quite live up to that, it will hit all but the most jaded the reader right in the feels.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for a copy of this book to review.

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