Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Time After Time - Lisa Grunwald

The thing that surprised me most about Lisa Grunwald’s Time After Time was learning a few days later that Manhattanhenge is a real thing (I probably just totally embarrassed myself by admitting that). So, for the other three or four people in the world who have not heard about Manhattanhenge yet, I’m going to quote the Wikipedia definition of that phenomenon here:
           
             “Manhattanhenge, also called the Manhattan Solstice, is an event during which the setting sun or the rising sunis aligned with the east–west streets of the main street grid of Manhattan, New York City. The sunsets and sunrises each align twice a year, on dates evenly spaced around the summer solstice and winter solstice. The sunset alignment occurs around May 28 and around July 13. The sunrise alignment occurs around December 5 and around January 8. The best places for viewing Manhattanhenge are 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th Streets.”

In the case of Time After Time, it’s the sunrise alignment with a particular Grand Central Station window every December that matters because that’s when the beautiful Nora Lansing reappears in the station each year – much to the delight of every man who spots her. When Joe Reynolds, a railroad technical-engineer, meets Nora at the station’s famous gold clock in December of 1937, he has the feeling that there is something very different about her. It’s not just that Nora is dressed in Roaring Twenties style; she also appears to be both a bit bewildered by what she sees around her and a little too confident and happy for the times in which they live. But things really get weird when Joe agrees to walk Nora home, only to have her disappear just a few hundred feet from the station.

Lisa Grunwald
That was the first time they met, but it would not be the last time; just as it would not be the last time Nora abruptly disappeared from Joe’s life. As the years go by, the two manage to carve out bits and pieces of a happy life together, one that is severely tested by what Nora and Joe discover about Nora’s relationship to Grand Central Station and the borough’s winter Manhattanhenge. There is no doubt that Nora is somehow trapped inside the huge train station and that bad things happen to her every time she tries to leave it. But then, as Joe steadily ages and the neighborhood around the station begins to change, they realize that time is not on their side. So what, if anything at all, can they do about it?

Bottom Line: Lisa Grunwald’s Time After Time is a bit of light, fun reading that will have readers rooting for Joe and Nora to find a way to stay together all the way to the very end of the book (although I’m sure that the ending will not satisfy everyone). Really, the best thing about this one is how clear a picture it paints of the inner workings of Grand Central Station itself, how complicated a process that it was even in the thirties and forties - and how many hundreds of people it took - to keep the station running as efficiently as it did. 

6 comments:

  1. If it makes you feel better, I'd never heard of Manhattanhenge before reading this review. Very interesting! And what a cool premise for a book. This one sounds like fun. I'll have to check it out, especially since I visited Grand Central Station for the first time just a few months ago!

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    1. It's a fun premise for sure. And it makes me want to visit Grand Central someday, too. I had not realized how important the station was during WWII and how carefully it was protected from potential threats. Some interesting historical tidbits are there for the taking in this one.

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  2. Well, I thought I was going to be saying that I'd never heard of Manhattanhenge either but then you included the Wiki explanation and I realised I had read about it a year or two ago. Sorry! LOL

    The book sounds a little like the premise of The Time Traveler's Wife, a book I found quite confusing. I suspect this one would not be confusing in the same manner and I like the sound of The Grand Central setting a lot. Reading about its history attracts me, nerd that I am about such things.

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    1. Cath, my ignorance of common trivia often amazes me more than it surprises me. :-)

      This one is not nearly as confusing as The Time Traveler's Wife but it is similar in plot, in that one of the characters comes and goes as the other stays put in real time. The history lesson is not a deep one, but it is unusual enough a topic that I think most readers will rather painlessly learn something about Grand Central's past that they never suspected.

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  3. I really like the sound of this one. I have it on my Goodreads want to read list already. :)

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    1. It's a fun book, but as if often the case, I think the ending is a little bit of a hedge in which the author tries to please everyone instead of ending where she wanted us to believe she was really heading.

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