All the Time in the World
Author: Caroline Angell
Truly mesmerizing, All the Time in the World pivots around a gifted musician named Charlotte who has a classical education in music composition and takes a job as a nanny until she figures out what to do with her career. She is still reeling from a betrayal by one of her graduate teachers, a gifted composer who has stolen her work and presented it as her own. In order to figure out what she wants to do with her music and her feelings of betrayal, Charlotte decides to “run away” for a while, and takes a job as a nanny for the McLean family.
The first page reveals that Gretchen McLean has died in a horrible accident. The novel oscillates in time from present to past, present to present and swings like a pendulum with prose that presents events in a stream of consciousness manner. Charlotte, who lives in Manhattan, has taken all the problems of her life and centered herself on the McLean’s two little boys George and Matt. Charlotte has turned Gretchen and the boys into her life, and when a talented colleague of hers from grad school asks her to attend his concert she hesitates – and wonders why she cannot look at her envy.
As we learn of the family before the accident and after, we realize that Charlotte has become the caretaker for Gretchen and the entire McLean family in order to remove herself from the stresses of pursuing her career and facing the teacher who stole her work. She becomes enmeshed with not just Gretchen but the little boys and the father, Scotty. After the accident, she tries to caretaker everyone and it blows up in her face.
As Angell attends to the McLean family and the tragedy, she presents Charlotte in all her emotional duress and we fall into the lives of this family exactly as Charlotte did: our compassion sways us from logic and sense, and we lose ourselves in their grief and needs.
By presenting time as a swirl of ups and downs, Angell thrusts the reader into a surreal and undoable existence, as Gretchen slowly descends into the abyss of losing her own life in taking care of her adopted family. Her boundaries disappear as does Charlotte’s own personal needs and life. So well done, and so well written, I could not stop reading until the end.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A”
We received a product to facilitate our review. All opinions are our own
- You can pick up this book on Amazon.com here: All the Time in the World: A Novel or at a bookseller near you.