Time Between (White)

The Time Between
Karen White, 2013
Penguin Group USA
352 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780451239860

Karen White delivers a novel of two generations of sisters and secrets set in the stunning South Carolina Lowcountry.

Eleanor Murray will always remember her childhood on Edisto Island, where her late father, a local shrimper, shared her passion for music. Now her memories of him are all that tempers the guilt she feels over the accident that put her sister in a wheelchair—and the feelings she harbors for her sister’s husband.

To help support her sister, Eleanor works at a Charleston investment firm during the day, but she escapes into her music, playing piano at a neighborhood bar. Until the night her enigmatic boss walks in and offers her a part-time job caring for his elderly aunt, Helena, back on Edisto. For Eleanor, it’s a chance to revisit the place where she was her happiest—and to share her love of music with grieving Helena, whose sister recently died under mysterious circumstances.

An island lush with sweetgrass and salt marshes, Edisto has been a peaceful refuge for Helena, who escaped with her sister from war-torn Hungary in 1944. The sisters were well-known on the island, where they volunteered in their church and community. But now Eleanor will finally learn the truth about their past: secrets that will help heal her relationship with her own sister—and set Eleanor free. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Education—B.S., Tulane University
Currently—lives in Roswell, Georgia

Karen White is an American author of more than fifteen fiction novels. She was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and during her childhood lived in numerous states and also in Venezula and London, England, where she graduated from The American School in London. White attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Management.

Her first book, In the Shadow of the Moon was a double finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. The Girl on Legare Street hit the New York Times Best Seller list in November 2009, and On Folly Beach in May 2010, which was also a NYT bestseller.

Most of White's novels are based in the low-country of the southeastern United States. When her most recent book, The Time Between, was released in June 2013, it debuted on the NYT Bestseller list at number 25 for Hardcover fiction.

White is married with two children and lives in Roswell, Georgia. (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 7/2/2012.)

Book Reviews
Fourteen years after an accident left her sister Eve paralyzed and herself guilt-ridden, Eleanor Murray struggles to atone—not only for the accident, but also for falling in love with her brother-in-law, Glen. The accident fractured the family, dashing Eve's future as a beauty pageant contestant..... White once again crafts characters who transcend their romantic roles through their frailties and weaknesses. An appealing romance with intergenerational resonance.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. “The relationships between sisters is a little piece of heaven and hell. But we share the same soul.” Do you agree with Helena’s sentiment? How does this idea unfold over the course of the novel for each pair of sisters? Why is this relationship so complicated, special? Are our siblings an extension of us?

2. From Eve’s difficult pregnancy and Glen and Ellie’s affections, to Helena and Bernadette’s wartime tragedies, every character in the story seems to carry a burden of secrets. How do these secrets shape the story? Does airing them set the characters free?

3. Why does Eve wish for a child? Do you think it is wise or fair knowing the risks? What trumps her own safety in her heart?

4. In the novel, we spend a lot of time moving in and out of Gigi’s, Helena’s, and Bernadette’s bedrooms-what do these rooms say about the characters? Do you think these rooms define or illustrate our lives?

5. What did you think was hidden in Bernadette’s bedroom?

6. Why are the Gullah sweetgrass baskets, like the “secret keeper,” so significant? What kind of magic do you think is woven into them at the time of their creation?

7. How do Helena and Ellie mirror each other in terms of the guilt they feel over the past? Is forgiveness possible for either one?

8. Why do you think the author chose the title “The Time Between”? What does it mean in the context of the story?

9. How does Ellie’s caretaking of Helena transform them, even heal, them both? Why does Ellie stick with the job as Helena works to sabotage any relationship? When do things start to change?

10. Did you suspect any of the twists in the book? Which ones? Where did you think the paintings originated from?

11. Were you shocked by the revelations about Ben and Samuel’s fates? Could you ever imagine having to make such a set of life or death choices-especially if as a mother? Does knowing this background help you make sense of Helena’s behaviors? Do you think she did the “right” thing?

12. What does the Gullah woman mean by “All goodbye ain’t gone”? What does it mean to Ellie? Gigi?

13. What does it mean for Ellie to finally play the Chopin piece?
(Questions from author's website.)

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