The Space Between Time – Charlie Laidlaw

Summary:

This is a story about childhood-into-adulthood, innocence lost, and a struggle to connect to tie together the threads of very different lives.

Main Characters:

Emma Rossini: The narrator, who details her life through the first-person.

Paul Ross: Emma’s famous film-star actor father.

Alberto Rossini: Emma’s brilliant, late-recognised physicist genius grandfather

Caitlin Ross: Emma’s mother.

Minor Characters:

Oz: A slow-burning love interest of Emma’s

Patsy: Emma’s best friend, and rock.

Plot:

Emma has a complicated family. Her grandfather is a genius, who invented the Rossini Theorem, and is her hero. He was not recognised and lauded until late in his career, but he always made time for Emma and her family.

His son was a struggling film actor, who once he got his big break went in to become a hugely in-demand leading man (both on and seemingly off-screen!). He became very wealthy as a result, and Emma has benefitted from this lifestyle.

Emma’s mother is drop-dead gorgeous, yet somewhat brittle underneath the veneer, and tormented by demons.

We open this fictional memoir with a young girl being taken to the cinema by her mother. We find out that her mother seems a little neurotic, and uncomfortable in social situations.

So begins a journey of a girl, who outwardly has everything, but is deeply lonely and affected by the relationship of her parents. She idolises her mother, and a deep-rooted resentment of her father begins to grow, and dominates her adolescent and young adult life.

Her positive familial relationships are with her grandparents, and the trips she takes to their house in Italy. The grandfather is always gently challenging and guiding her, the grandmother an emotional rock for her.

Children grow up. As Emma grows into young womanhood, she brings her issues with her, and develops more. However, she does learn to cope in her own way, but her fragile defences are swept aside when tragedy strikes, and she develops some mental health difficulties. The hairline cracks in her relationships become fault-lines, and she falls into the gaps.

The final third of the book, for me, was the most interesting. A lot of threads came together, and there were surprisingly perspective-reversals, leading to new insights and deeper appreciation of why people took the actions they took.

What I Liked:

  • The emotion in the story. It felt genuine, and you become drawn to the “poor little rich girl”.
  • There was a fair bit of humour in it, especially with the devil-may-care Patsy character.
  • The empathy the author brought to his characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The pace was slow in the first two thirds of the book. The author needed to build the world, and flesh out the characters, but it just moved a little slow.

Overall:

This is a good story. It deals with mental health, a topic that affects us all in different ways, in a sensitive and empathetic manner. Maybe just me, but I liked the parallel of Emma going through all the growing-up changes and challenges with those faced by her parents, as their relationship and lives move from obscurity to world-fame. It entertains and, for the mathematically-minded, educates as well, and I would definitely recommend it.

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to the author for sending me a.mobi of his book, in return for an honest and objective review.

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