This book has me choked up. It shattered my heart in the best way possible. I can honestly say Time After Time is on my top ten list of all-time.
I really think I would botch the plot if I tried to summarize it, so here’s the blurb:
On a clear December morning in 1937, at the famous gold clock in Grand Central Terminal, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man from Queens, meets a vibrant young woman who seems mysteriously out of place. Nora Lansing is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing, pearl earrings, and talk of the Roaring Twenties don’t seem to match the bleak mood of Depression-era New York. Captivated by Nora from her first electric touch, Joe despairs when he tries to walk her home and she disappears. Finding her again—and again—will become the focus of his love and his life.
Nora, a fiercely independent aspiring artist, is shocked to find she’s somehow been trapped, her presence in the terminal governed by rules she cannot fathom. It isn’t until she meets Joe that she begins to understand the effect that time is having on her, and the possible connections to the workings of Grand Central and the solar phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below.
As thousands of visitors pass under the famous celestial blue ceiling each day, Joe and Nora create a life unlike any they could have imagined. With infinite love in a finite space, they take full advantage of the “Terminal City” within a city, dining at the Oyster Bar, visiting the Whispering Gallery, and making a home at the Biltmore Hotel. But when the construction of another landmark threatens their future, Nora and Joe are forced to test the limits of freedom and love.
Delving into Grand Central Terminal’s rich past, Lisa Grunwald crafts a masterful historical novel about a love affair that defies age, class, place, and even time.
I stayed up until 4am reading this book last night, and I still have a lump in my throat. This book is the epitome of “If you love something, let it go.”
Joe and Nora do that. They love each other beyond reason, beyond what should even be physically or spiritually possible. This book shows that love doesn’t always mean a Happily Ever After in the sense that we know it. Love doesn’t always mean marriage, or a home, or even years together. Sometimes love means incredibly intimate moments, little pockets of time, that take our breath away and leave us forever changed.
Nora and Joe feel so real to me. With clean and snappy prose, Lisa Grunwald created incredible depth without once using a heavy-hand. The world she built was masterfully presented and Grand Central became just as much of a character as Joe and Nora.
This book also made me look at myself and how I love. Would I have Nora’s strength to let Joe go? Would I have Joe’s patience to wait for her? Would I be able to watch her leave, allow her to have that freedom? Would I really watch Joe’s train depart?
As different as Joe and Nora were, their journey was so similar. They were both stuck in the ether, Joe just had to experience his more acutely while Nora had nothing to experience at all. Love freed them both, and it breaks my heart that they couldn’t share that freedom physically together, but I like to think they held each other close, always.
Get your wallet, grab some tissues, and devour this book.