Thursday, 20 June 2019

The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw
Published in the UK by Accent Books today, the 20th June 2019.

A 2019 New Release Challenge read and one of my 2019 COYER Summer Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth... 

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She's the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She's also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist. But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather's Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

I loved Charlie Laidlaw's previous novel, The Things We Learn When We're Dead, so was delighted to be offered a review copy of his newest offering, The Space Between Time. This story follows the apparently charmed life of Emma Rossini as she grows up in a seemingly picture perfect family which is soon revealed to us readers to be anything but perfect. I admit to being frequently baffled by the astrophysical diversions although I think I understood enough to appreciate how the scientific theories reflected aspects of Emma's life - or vice versa, perhaps! Overall though, I was happy that I didn't need a physics degree here, and soon found myself completely swept up into the story.

Laidlaw's humour is, again, pitched just at the right level to keep The Space Between Time from becoming a depressing drama. The novel does explore heavy themes of mental illness and family relationships, and ideas of personal responsibility, but Laidlaw's eye for the absurd and his dry turn of phrase really appealed to me. Each of the characters are fully-rounded nuanced people and Laidlaw is just as accomplished with his portrayals of female characters as with males. We see everyone slightly differently as Emma grows from child to teenager to adult and her perceptions change with her increased understanding of what had passed. This is cleverly done and felt very real throughout the novel. I now want to visit several of the stunning locations too, especially that North Berwick coastline which sounds bleakly wonderful.

I think The Space Between Time would be a great book club choice inspiring lots of animated discussions of the ideas it raises! I felt that it has important things to say about the way we see ourselves and the assumptions we often make about other people without any sense of their internal lives. It is also simply a great story and an engrossing read which I hope will have a wide appeal.

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by Shenova in
California, USA

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Books by Charlie Laidlaw / Contemporary fiction / Books from Scotland


  1. I think reading about astrophysics stuff in fiction for fun would cause me to enter a reading slump!

    1. Oh no! Laidlaw presents it in a light way so I didn't feel as overwhelmed as I have by nonfiction physics books

  2. I am glad that the balance between the emotion and humor was done well enough to keep you from falling in too deep to the depressing emotions! I think the scientific stuff could go over my head but if you managed okay maybe I would be able to too.

    1. I probably would have got greater depth from the story had I understood the physics, but not doing so didn't dampen my enjoyment of the novel