There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Drama/ Dark Comedy
About the book
‘The Time Between Space is a complex but compelling narrative exploring a multitude of significant themes, including childhood trauma, mental health, false memory, the
destructive nature of fame, and the relevance of astrophysics in everyday life.’ Michelle Ryles (Book Blogger)
The story follows the protagonist (Emma) during her childhood and adult years in Edinburgh and East Lothian, and the overpowering event of her mother’s accidental death. However, the secret that only Emma knows is that her mother’s death was no accident. It precipitates a suicide attempt, and estrangement from her father.
Emma stumbles through university and finds work as a journalist in Edinburgh, although she is once more becoming mentally unstable and, following the death of her father, she attempts suicide again.
It’s while she’s in a mental institution that her psychiatrist suggests she writes a memoir of her life, to help her make sense of everything that’s happened to her, and The Time Between Space is the story she writes.
Charlie Laidlaw explores these difficult issues with empathy and care and his words feel believable, candid and moving. The Time Between Space is thought-provoking, emotional and engaging. An overall worthy addition to his East Lothian Quarter. He also notes that this book, as well as his others, balances humour with poignancy, creating a welcome sense of equilibrium within the novel.
This is a tragic-comic story, aimed at both male and female readers. While it will appeal to anyone who lives locally given its setting, The Time Between Space is a novel that may appeal to anyone, anywhere in the world. Loss, grief, heartache and trauma are almost all universal experiences.
Charlie Laidlaw’s novel feels relatable and does not restrict itself to the places mentioned within the pages. Above all, it offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost, and that even at the worst of times, a second chance can often just be around the corner.
Emma Maria Rossini appears to have everything; the daughter of a famous actor and a beautiful and affectionate mother, she grows up in a huge mansion in one of Edinburgh’s most wealthy suburbs, surrounded by all the trappings of a luxurious lifestyle.
When a sudden tragedy strikes, Emma’s seemingly perfect life begins to fall apart. She experiences a rapid decline in her mental health and begins to see unforgiving faces in the clouds. Before she knows it, the sky itself is chasing her. Emma is also the granddaughter of an eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist. As she begins to find solace in her grandfather’s Theorem on the universe, Emma slowly realises that her childhood might not have been as perfect as she first remembered.
The book follows her struggle with her mental health, and her attempt to make sense of her unreliable memories, her existence, and her place in her grandfather’s concept of the universe.
So what do I think?
If you’ve been around a while, you may recall that I reviewed this book when it was previously published under another title. You may also be aware that since that first review I went on to read two more books by Charlie Laidlaw, which rather gives the game away as to how I felt about this book!
Short punchy sentences deliver tempo and draw you in to The Time Between Space as it charts the maturing of the central character, Emma. The narrative voice alters slightly through the novel too, which really brings a sense of Emma growing up in a world that on occasion feels thrust upon her. It is relatable and totally believable. As I absorbed the story and turned the pages I had to remind myself that it was not an elaborate biography but a work of fiction.
The other thing that really stands out for me in this novel is the description. It is beautiful with just the right amount of detail to bring it alive and make you feel as though you are standing to one side of Emma experiencing her world with her. No stone is left unturned but far from being a laborious scene setting exercise Laidlaw creates a sparkle through his words, lifting the story off the page.
I didn’t know what to expect from the story line and although it isn’t fast paced the luxury of the descriptions used create marvellous characterisation and leave you wanting more.
If you have not yet had the pleasure of reading Laidlaw’s work then I would highly recommend starting with this book. You won’t be disappointed.
About the author
Charlie Laidlaw is a PR consultant, teaches creative writing, and lives in East Lothian. He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and was previously a national newspaper journalist and defence intelligence analyst. His other novels are The Things We Learn When We’re Dead, Being Alert!, Everyday Magic and Love Potions and Other Calamities.
All but one of Charlie Laidlaw’s novels have a strong local connection, collectively forming an East Lothian Quartet.
About the publisher
Founded in 1997, Ringwood Publishing is a small, independent publishing house based in Glasgow.
They are dedicated to publishing quality works of Scottish fiction and non-fiction.
Ringwood publishes books on a diverse range of topics such as environmentalism; the Irish troubles; euthanasia; referendums; the role of women in medicine, and much more.
N.B. I was gifted a copy of the book back in 2019 in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts are my own. For more information about how I work with others, please take a look at my disclosure page.