REVIEW: The best of Karen White shines in ‘The Time Between’

Jun. 08, 2013 @ 05:32 PM

WHEN: 2 p.m. today [Sunday]
WHERE: McIntyre’s Fine Books
Fearrington Village, 220 Market St., Pittsboro

“The Time Between” by Karen White (NAL hardcover, $25.95)

Karen White is known for her novels set in the South, but the plots are anything but predictable. In her new novel, “The Time Between,” set in the South Carolina Lowcountry, we have an idea of where the story might be going, but take the turns as the characters do.
Eleanor is the central character, a North Charleston woman in her 30s who deferred her life plans after she felt responsible for the accident that paralyzed her sister, Eve. Eleanor has a 9-to-5 administrative job to make ends meet and lives with her mother, Eve and Eve’s husband. Her boss, who appears to be a stiff-suited man, offers her a part-time job back on her childhood home of Edisto Island, before life took a sharp turn for the worse. Eleanor cares for her boss Finn’s aunt, Helena, and soon Finn’s daughter, Gigi. It becomes more than just an extra job, but the start of a journey back to herself.
This is White’s first hardcover novel, and if hardcover vs. softcover serves as a barometer of depth, “The Time Between” does seem to delve deeper into White’s literary talents. Don’t bend the binding on this one (or any book, but especially this one).
If need be, it is possible to read this novel in short sittings, hitting pause on the characters’ lives while you go about your own, then jump right back in to the pluff mud of Edisto.
As a reviewer who literally read “The Time Between” at the beach, with salt water splashing on the cover, it indeed qualifies as a “beach read.” It’s not light, though. White delves into a co-dependent, guilt-ridden, martyring sisterhood relationship in one story path. The other path, connected by Eleanor, is of Helena, one of two sisters who left Hungary during World War II as the Nazis began to occupy Budapest. The secrets and mystery of “The Time Between” are revealed in Helena’s story, so I won’t spoil the surprise. But know that there’s some history here, and drama, and tragic death. There is also love, loyalty and second chances.
If you’re already a fan of White, “The Time Between” includes all her best elements – a dash of supernatural, some mystery, some personal discovery, fraught but loving relationships, and forging new lives. If this is the first you’ve heard of White, use “The Time Between” to get started.