Adult Fic Pick! The Time Between by Karen White Review

Posted October 17, 2013 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 2 Comments

The Time Between by Karen White
Published by NAL Hardcover/Penguin
Publish Date: June 4, 2013

352 Pages
Source: Library
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

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…  (from Goodreads) 

The Time Between by Karen White 

My Thoughts:  I knew when I saw this book on the library shelf that I had to read it. There’s just something so quiet and beautiful about the look of it, and it captivated me by the cover alone. I speculated for so long about this girl and what she was doing, what she was thinking. When I read the description, it called out to me even more. See, I had also read that there was betrayal and forgiveness in these pages and I don’t know about you all, but I just love to read books the pull at my heart with stories like that. I went up to the desk with my card, and out of the library I carried this beautiful book. 

I let it sit for a couple of days before I was brave enough to start it. And when I finally started it, I read it slowly. This is one of those books that begs to be read slowly. Savored. Taken in as if each word means something supremely important. Because there is a certain point in the story when you realize that every word is important. 


Eleanor Murray lives at home with her mother, her sister Eve, and Eve’s husband Glen. The house isn’t that large, and there are a ton of feelings inside of the small space. See, Eve is in a wheelchair – she was paralyzed from the waist down after she and Eleanor were racing up trees as teens and Eve fell. Eleanor has never gotten over the guilt, partly because it was her idea to climb the trees in the first place, and partly because she has always been in love with Glen. Eve knows this. Glen knows this, and may even have some feelings of his own – not necessarily the same feelings as Eleanor, but there are certainly some kind of feelings there. The house suffocates Eleanor and she can’t get over any of these feelings because they’re always there, lurking, in Eve’s wheelchair, or in Glen’s eyes or in what he doesn’t say. 

Eleanor works full-time and is approached by her boss one day with a proposition: he’d like to hire her as a companion to his Aunt Helena out on Edisto Island, near Charleston. He believes that Eleanor would be good for the difficult Helena, as she is tough to manage and has just lost her sister and best friend. Both Eve and her mother want her to take this job – the extra money would be helpful since Eve has now found herself pregnant. These things are also going on:
  • Eve doesn’t want to have to tell Eleanor that she and Glen do not need her help. She is aware that Eleanor helps out of a sense of obligation, of guilt – and that her help will only increase now. Eve kind of likes Eleanor’s guilt, in a way, because it gives her power over Eleanor. 
  • Eleanor begins to mourn what she has never had – a relationship, a family of her own. She has spent her entire life making amends for ruining Eve’s life. 
  • The new job forces Eleanor to force Eve to become more independent and to rely on her own husband for more of her needs, which in turn makes Eleanor begin to live her own life and see things through her own eyes instead of through Eve’s eyes and her mother’s eyes. 
It is hard to read Eleanor’s attachment to her sister Eve – the guilt, the turmoil – and her gut-wrenching feelings for Glen; once Eleanor takes the job on Edisto Island, she begins to develop into this amazing woman little by little and it is incredible. Eleanor begins to make her own decisions and laugh and be spontaneous and just be her own person. 


Working for Aunt Helena, aka Ms. Beaufain, does wonders for Eleanor. She learns to stand up for herself because Ms. Beaufain gives her a hard time from the moment she steps through the door. See, Ms. Beaufain is an older Hungarian woman with a very interesting history – she has many stories to tell, but she doesn’t share them easily. She also knows and recognizes heartache, pain, and guilt because she wears it herself. So her relationship with Eleanor is one that is like a roller coaster – full of ups and downs – or at least Eleanor believes it to be. Helena actually is very fond of Eleanor, but it is her way to be persnickety to everyone but her nephew Finn Beaufain and his daughter, Gigi. 

And there is Finn Beaufain – Eleanor’s boss. Eleanor didn’t realize when she took the job that he would be around quite as much as he is. She is used to him in his professional attire, speaking in his professional voice, being professional all of the time. But when he isn’t at work – when he is on Edisto – he is just Finn, and she grows to love his company. She begins to see the man beyond the successful company, behind the work ethic. He’s a man that loves fiercely but lives timidly and very guarded, and he looks at her sometimes for a second longer than necessary. This isn’t lost on Eleanor but she has always had deep feelings for Glen – painful feelings because she can never have him – but Finn is always there and always kind. Finn teaches Eleanor so much about life – and love – both knowingly and unknowingly. I love this character. He is written so well. 

And there is Finn’s daughter, Gigi. Finn is divorced from his ex-wife Harper, and he takes care of Gigi. She is such a special child – so bright and happy – and she’s been through so much in her young life, having beaten cancer at a very young age, before the book began. This is part of the reason that Finn lives only partially and fearfully almost all of the time, but it is the reason that Gigi is fearless, relentless, and always dressed in pink. She also teaches Eleanor a thing or two or twenty about living, and Eleanor grows to love her like she’s her own child. Because Gigi spends so much time at her Aunt Helena’s house, Eleanor begins to take on the role as unofficial caretaker of the child too, even though it isn’t her actual job. 

When someone loves your child, 
it is even easier to love them. 
You see that person through different eyes, automatically.


I haven’t even touched on half of the wonderful surprises that The Time Between by Karen White holds. The story of Eleanor is only half of the story. Helena has a story of her own, and it is rich and historical, a story of World War II and love and life lost and escape and fear and everything we’ve heard of and associated with that time period. Helena’s story is revealed a tiny bit at the time because Helena would have it no other way, and she only reveals it because Eleanor pulls it out of her. It is a remarkable story, and I honestly had no idea how much historical fiction and history was inside of this book when I picked it up simply because of that beautiful cover. 

But…I would be lying to you if I said that the historical portion of the story is my reason for reading. Or even my favorite part. It is lovely and makes the book complete, yes. But the story of Eleanor coming into herself and giving up love while also finding love is what drove this book for me. Eleanor had to learn to shed old feelings of shame, of guilt, of what she thought was love, of what she thought was life…so she could learn to live life, so she could love fully and completely, so she could forgive and be forgiven. 

The story itself is so wonderful and grand, I could just leave it at that – and I probably should. I have several people that I have and should recommend this one to…but if you want to get into elements: there are wonderful intersecting and parallel plot lines, weaving story lines that belong to Eleanor and Helena – you find yourself riveted and reading and you know, you just know, that at some point everything will converge and come together but you have no idea how that will happen and in what state everyone will exist when that happens. I myself was clutching my chest – hand in a fist – as I read and re-read and hoped for the best, for the things I wanted. There is rich, delicious, full, robust characterization – characters that you can picture, even down to their clothing. This may be perhaps one of my favorite examples of adult fiction characterization just popping to life because I felt like I could visualize each and every character so perfectly. And there is romance. Ah, the romance – past and present, alive in memory and alive in person. Oh my, such joy and pain in the romance and that, friends, THAT is my favorite part of this book. 

And Gigi, of course. She is absolutely amazing. Brilliant child, brilliant character. A perfect ray of sunshine and happiness in every one of her scenes – all of them – even when the subject matter of the book was a little heavier at times. 

This book was way more than I gave it credit for in picking it up, way more than a pretty cover. I loved it so much and I will read it again one day. Until then, I have a serious case of beautiful story hangover. At the risk of sounding completely dorky, though, this is one of those books in which I think of the characters as real people and wonder what they’re doing out there. 

I recommend The Time Between by Karen White to fans of wonderful adult fiction – contemporary and historical, romance, and alternating points-of-view. This one is oh-so-good. 


The Time Between will appeal to fans of:

Adult Fiction/Historical Fiction
Setting: Charleston/Edisto Island, South Carolina
Romance: More than one. No triangles. 
Alternating POV’s
Stories of Guilt, Betrayal, and Forgiveness

The Time Between by Karen White
is currently available for purchase.


Does this sound like something you’d be interested in? 

I loved it so much. 



About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


2 responses to “Adult Fic Pick! The Time Between by Karen White Review

  1. Wow. This book really spoke to you, didn't it? I LOVE when books do that. They call out from the shelves, quietly but insistently and impact you in ways you never expected. YAY, BOOKS!!!

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