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“Sharp, convincing.”The New York Times Book Review
An unforgettable debut about a young woman's choice between the future she's always imagined and the people she's come to love.
Charlotte, a gifted and superbly trained young musician, has been blindsided by a shocking betrayal in her promising career when she takes a babysitting job with the McLeans, a glamorous Upper East Side Manhattan family. At first, the nanny gig is just a way of tiding herself over until she has licked her wounds and figured out her next move as a composer in New York. But, as it turns out, Charlotte is naturally good with children and becomes as deeply fond of the two little boys as they are of her. When an unthinkable tragedy leaves the McLeans bereft, Charlotte is not the only one who realizes that she's the key to holding little George and Matty's world together. Suddenly, in addition to life's usual puzzles, such as sorting out which suitor is her best match, she finds herself with an impossible choice between her life-long dreams and the torn-apart family she's come to love. By turns hilarious, sexy, and wise, Caroline Angell's remarkable and generous debut is the story of a young woman's discovery of the things that matter most.
|Publisher:||Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Caroline Angell grew up in Endwell, NY, the daughter of an electrical engineer and a public school music teacher. She has a B. A. in musical theater from American University and currently lives and works in Manhattan. As a playwright and director, she has had her work performed at regional theaters in New York City and in the Washington, D.C., area. All the Time in the World is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
All the Time in the World
By Caroline Angell
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2016 Caroline Angell
All rights reserved.
The day she died was not beautiful. There have been a few world disasters in my lifetime, generation-defining events, and the ones I remember most clearly were marked with the hideous irony of a perfect blue sky. But the day Gretchen McLean died was miserable and drizzly, with periods of that nasty, keening wind that blows your raincoat hood straight back from your head and whips the garbage on Lexington Avenue into your face. It was appropriate, almost righteous. Towers fall, and the sun should not warm your skin; buses explode, and the breeze should not trace gentle ripples across the reservoir. But on the day that Gretchen died, even the weather seemed to understand its role. Because on the day that the mother of two little boys dies without warning, the wind should absolutely howl.
February, the day before
"I left the juice box on the counter. You might want to take a paper towel too. He squeezes them when he puts the straw in," Gretchen tells me. "Right, George?" She pokes little George in the belly.
"All over me when I put the traw in," he confirms. I'm pretty good at deciphering George-speak now, but it took me six or seven months to catch on. Gretchen understood it from the moment it started, which I'd prefer to chalk up to her intuitive mommy-skills, rather than to my slow-babysitter syndrome.
I walked in the door exactly seven minutes late today, which is an unusual occurrence. Of course, today is the day that Gretchen is in a hurry to leave, and now her meticulousness, which I normally laugh at, is giving me a complex. I'd love to give her an acceptable excuse for my lateness, but the wrong comment could lead to revelations I'm not willing to share. I don't want to risk it, even though we've known each other for two years and, in some ways, are as close as family. The less you know about someone, the easier it is to make up the details, which is exactly what you want to do when it comes to the person who will help raise your children.
Gretchen hands George his shoes and then tears off a paper towel, folds it up, and puts it under the juice box on the counter. "Or would you rather I put it in the stroller, Charlotte?"
"The counter is fine."
"Hey, I meant to text you," she says, "and then I think I forgot — do you have plans tonight?"
"Do you need me to stay late?"
"We thought we might go out," says Gretchen. "But no big deal if you can't stay. We'll do it another night." I wonder if she means that, or if she made the reservation a while ago and took it for granted that I would be able to stay. I rarely say no to her, and I know I'm not the only one.
"I think it will be fine." I calculate the extra hours in my head and console myself with the thought. "You should go out. I'll stay."
"Thank you! That's great. Oh, before I forget, one of the stroller wheels keeps turning sideways. Makes it drag a little, just fyi ..." She is back to business, and I pull out my phone to text Everett, who is probably still in my bed.
"Have to work late. Go back to New Haven if you want to. Will feel bad if you stay an extra day. Don't be mad." I send the text and then regret that last insecure sentence.
Everett, my good friend from grad school, had shown up unannounced at my door at 9:30 last night with two things on his mind, both of which kept me tossing and turning longer than preferable. I'm not used to having another person in my space all night, so at 6:37 a.m. I was wide awake and spinning, despite having slept for only a couple of hours. Mornings with Gretchen and the boys are more difficult if I make less-than-stellar choices the night before, but on the whole, I like my employment situation and would like it to stay as it is. I have no family in New York, and barely any of my friends from school have relocated here. Gretchen's family has become somewhat of a refuge for me in this city, where everyone is in such a hurry not to look each other in the eye. Babysitting in Manhattan is a decent living, and since keeping a roof over my head is a priority for me, working for Gretchen has been ideal. But that isn't a thing you can say to someone like Everett — someone who proclaims he would rather eat chickpeas out of a tin can in a basement in Bay Ridge than sacrifice one minute where he could be Making Art. Luckily, his trust fund and his acceptance to Yale's doctoral program have kept him from such a fate thus far.
"Me riding in the troller, Tahr-lette?" George asks, bringing me back to the present.
"Yes, bug, you're riding in the stroller."
"And we go get Matt?"
"Yes, we're picking up Matt," I say. Impatience won't do; the day is just starting, and it's a marathon, not a sprint. George is at that toddler stage of communication where I have to repeat everything he says back to him, so he can be sure his objectives are understood and will be met. "Can you fasten those shoes, pal? Do you need a little help?"
"Me do it," he says, with great authority.
"Good job, Georgie," Gretchen says, leaning down to kiss him. "Mommy has to go and run a few errands, and I'll see you in a little bit.
"Grocery tore, Mommy?"
"Yes, and the drug store, and the library. And maybe Banana Republic," she says to me with mock apology. "I'm a sucker for the forty-percent-off signs."
"Me too," I say.
"You and Matt are going to play on the playground with Charlotte," Gretchen says to George.
"Me go down that widdle side, Mommy?"
"Which little slide?"
"That widdle twisty side?"
"Sure, you can show Charlotte that little twisty slide."
"That sounds like fun, Georgie," I say.
Gretchen slings her bag over her shoulder, not Marc Jacobs, not Chanel, even though I know she can afford it. "Okay, you guys," she says. "Have fun. See you later."
I start to gather up our things for an outing, but the stroller-packing process is sluggish for many reasons, none of which I can attribute to Georgie.
"We're gonna need to stop for something caffeinated," I say. "I'm as slow as a baby in a lead diaper today." George laughs so hard he falls over sideways. He loves to be in on jokes about babies.
"The Philharmonic is playing my first solo piece in the next concert series," Everett had said last night when I, already in my pajamas, had opened my door to him. "At Carnegie Hall." He said it casually, like it was no big deal, even though we both knew it was. At the same time, he was holding up a bottle of really nice bourbon as if we were celebrating, and the juxtaposition confused me. How did he want me to react?
After we'd finished our master's program, Everett had taken a year off to see what kind of work he might be interested in pursuing, and then applied to Yale the following year to become a doctor of musical arts. He'd had minor projects come and go, but nothing on this scale, which is how I'd justified not being in attendance for any of them in the past few years. This was a big one. I should have been going crazy, and he should have been going crazy. Instead, we acted like we were sitting around the poker table, waiting for the other one to give up a tell.
"You should come with me to hear it," he said, while I was busy not saying anything, like an asshole. "I'll take you to the after-party. And we can sit in the audience together and be elitist. Or mock other people for being elitist. Your choice."
"Only if you promise not to crush all the tiny bones in my hand if the first violin goes sharp," I said.
"So, you'll come?"
"Ah ... when is it?"
"Are you frantically rewriting?"
"More constantly than frantically."
I squeezed my fingers together to relieve the tension in them as I stared at Everett, still just outside the door to my apartment, and I tried to think of something to say. Indecision overwhelmed me, but it wasn't an unfamiliar feeling, particularly in my recent history. Three years ago, my life had been as linear as a road map, the progression so natural that sometimes it took me a while to notice the milestones. I could draw a straight line from Yamaha preschool to the beloved record player my parents kept in our upstairs hallway, where I would sit and fixate for hours as a kid; from the evolution of my high school passions, Joni Mitchell to Vivaldi to Sondheim to the Clash; from conservatory in the Midwest, to graduate school in New York, to scholarships and recitals and being chosen over and over and over.
It's surprising and, at times, miraculous that original music can still be made when you think about how little we have to work with, melodically. There are only twelve notes on our Western musical scale. The difference between the me standing there last night, not offering any kind of enthusiastic welcome to Everett, and the me that existed three years ago has everything to do with that scale. Until three years ago, I had spent an absurd portion of my time putting those notes together, stacking them against each other, stretching them out, and manipulating them into the shape of things I heard in my head. In an oblivion born of constant, lifelong validation, I had thought that those things would be mine forever, the melodies I constructed, and that it would always be my choice when and how and with whom to share them.
But that was not the case, and in hindsight, maybe it was naive of me to think that I would have all the time in the world to make those choices. You never know how important the things in your own mind are, that specific pattern of neuron firing that only your brain does, until someone takes them away from you.
The realization came upon me so quickly that there was barely time for acceptance; there was nothing to do but stay put. It hadn't made sense to move to a different city, because everything would still be the same. There would still be a part of me that had been borne away without my consent, and there would still be the risk that it would happen again. I might as well be in New York City, where there were plenty of meanwhile jobs, places that I could enjoy predictability and a bit of financial security until I figured out what to do next.
Meanwhile had lasted until now. And there was Everett, on my doorstep. I stepped back to let him in, feeling the unbalance of being thrown back three years in time. He was with me, but we weren't in the same place. The Philharmonic. Carnegie Hall. Two miles and a whole solar system away from my apartment by the East River.
"It sounds great," I said. "It's hard for me to take time off from work though, unless it's an emergency."
"What, you can't afford it?" He retrieved a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of his jeans and stuck one behind his ear. Add that to the sweater he wore draped over his shoulders, and you had a portrait of old-money Delaware. Everett, as drawn by a caricature artist.
"That's part of it. It's also hard on the family that I work for when I'm not around."
"I thought the mother only worked part-time."
"She does, but the boys have opposite schedules. A lot of their stuff overlaps," I said. "Anyway, I'll do my best. I really will." I walked into the bathroom and shut the door, turning on the water and letting it run while I stood in front of the sink, alone, in the only place inside my small apartment that he couldn't invade. He doesn't know anything about life with kids, I reminded myself. No one does, unless they actually have kids to deal with.
"Think these are getting too widdle," says George, in the present. I'm not sure what he means. I've packed the juice box and paper towel in the bottom of the stroller, along with my wallet, keys, and phone. I add two extra pairs of mittens and then do a check. Hand sanitizer: check. "Too widdle on my feet." Tissues: check. Bag of superheroes: check. "Too sah-mall, too sah-mall," says George, and at the last minute I decide that Matt will probably want a snack, so I put in a granola bar and some veggie straws. I finish loading just as I hear a quiet thump-thump from the other room, and when I come back to the living room to check on George's progress, I find him rolling a tiny Corvette along the floor and over two mountains fashioned from his shoes, which are no longer on his feet.
"Well, okay," I say, reaching for his hand. "Let's go find some different ones." He follows me, happy not to have to repeat himself until the end of time.
Everett's reply to my text comes in as I'm heading out the door with Georgie, but it's a little too explicit for me to answer while I'm wheeling a stroller down the sidewalk.
February, two years before
"Come on in," Gretchen says, smiling, as she holds the door open. She is blonde, and she looks like a catalogue model. "Matthew isn't feeling very well today, so he's been on the couch for a while. George doesn't walk yet, but he's a really fast crawler, so watch your step!"
Gretchen and her husband, Scotty, found me on an Internet babysitting service. I'm not sure what it was I wrote that caught their attention, but if I had to guess, I'd say it was probably the lines about my musical background. I'd decided to leave out the part about my master's in composition in order to make myself sound less educated and therefore within a reasonable price range, or so I told myself. I suppose it's also possible that I wanted to make babysitting sound less like a job that I was hoping to fill in the gap with while I figured out how to use that master's in composition to take the next steps in my career. Whatever the reason, the sentence had boiled down to something like "Coming from a family with strong creative values, I frequently use music and singing to engage the children." I'm glad that Gretchen and Scotty decided to overlook the questionable grammatical structure — creative values? Like maybe my family takes liberties with traditional values? Or perhaps my family made up their own values, creatively? — and instead chose to pay attention to how I might teach their children the "Itsy Bitsy Spider."
"It's awesome to meet you guys," I say. "Do you mind if I wash my hands really quick? I've been on the bus."
As I wash my hands with the orange-creamsicle-scented foaming soap, I repeat their names to myself. George, Matthew. I'm relieved not to have to summon an earnest inquiry as to which of her family members she named little Fieldston after.
"Your apartment is lovely," I say, once I've found my way back to the foyer, and it's the understatement of the millennium. Her apartment is unbelievable. I can't see to the end of it on any one side.
"Thank you," she says, leading me to the kitchen table. The kids are visible through the archway to the living room. "It's an old building, so it has its quirks, but we really love it here."
When she's ascertained the requisite information (I live about a mile away; my schedule is somewhat flexible; there's no evidence that I'm a serial killer), the conversation turns to music, confirming my suspicions that she likes the idea of that influence around her kids.
"You'll have to forgive my ignorance. I know nothing about it, obviously, but you said you're a composer, right? Or that you went to school for composition?"
"Yes," I say, without elaborating. I don't want anything we discuss to give her an idea of how temporary this job might be for me.
"And what's the difference between a composer and a songwriter? Or is there a difference?"
"Not really," I say. "You might call yourself a songwriter if what you really wanted to do is write pop music or songs that people would hear on the radio. But a songwriter is just a specific kind of composer, that's all."
"But that isn't what you want to do?" she asks. "Be on the radio? Write songs for Justin Bieber?"
"Alas, I'm pretty sure the Biebs writes his own stuff," I say.
"Bummer," she says, and we both laugh.
"I used to love writing with other people, or for them. Back when I was in school, I mean," I add, hoping she won't notice or question the "used to."
"All I remember from my music classes as a kid are mnemonic devices for the notes, and trying to figure out what key something is in using tiny number signs," says Gretchen.
"Right, and lowercase b's," I say. "There was a fair amount of theory, for sure. I took a bunch of seminars, and my favorite was on collaborative composition. I really loved writing with a group on a specific project because there was something about it that let me communicate in a different way than when I was just hanging out, being regular Charlotte. I'm not cut out for performing, but I did my internship with an orchestrator for musical theater, and I had a great time with that."
Excerpted from All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell. Copyright © 2016 Caroline Angell. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One: Gretchen,
Part Two: Matthew,
Part Three: Scotty,
Part Four: Charlotte,
Part Five: George,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There is nothing so exciting as discovering a debut novel. Caroline Angell's first book, All The Time In The World, brings to life the world of the Upper East Side of New York City, as seen through the eyes of Charlotte, a young woman who is working as a nanny to the two young Maclean boys. Charlotte is also a music composer who is trying to come to terms with why she is not working in the music business. She finds herself distancing herself from her college friends, and her friends and family worry that she is becoming too attached to the Maclean family and forgoing her own dreams. She adores Matty and George, the two young boys she cares for. She and Gretchen, the mom, get along well, and she doesn't see Scotty, the dad who works long hours in the finance industry, very often. When a tragic event occurs that threatens to tear the Maclean family apart, Charlotte is thrust into a different role; she becomes the glue that holds them together. It is up to her to get the boys to school, to deal with their teachers, run the household, and help them understand a world that no longer makes any sense to them. Charlotte is very close to her sisters and they are becoming more worried for her, afraid that if she doesn't get out and begin her own life now that she never will. But Charlotte loves Matty and George and feels an obligation to them. I loved the character of Charlotte, and even though I am years older than her, I related to her a great deal. Her sense of responsibility to the Macleans was something I understood in my heart. Her relationship with her sisters felt so true-to-life, I'm sure that Angell must have sisters of her own. Her connection with Matty and George was so sweet, and yet frustrating as well. I have two sons of my own and I smiled with recognition, thrust right back to the days when they were little guys as I read of Charlotte trying to corral them in their everyday lives. Charlotte also has a complicated relationship with Scotty, the boys' dad, and Patrick, Scotty's slightly irresponsible playboy brother. Angell writes some powerful, emotional scenes, such as one set at a hospital that just tore my heart out. All The Time In The World is the kind of book that worms its way into your heart, and you will feel so many different emotions reading it. Charlotte is a woman you will not easily forget. I highly recommend All The Time In The World. Caroline Angell's website is here.
From the beginning of the novel i was interested in how the characters evolved and their story - you may mot like them all the time, but i was interested in how their story would end.
Scott and Gretchen had two small sons: George and Matt. Charlotte had a couple degrees in musics but had been cheated out of a job by her teacher Jess and has taken on babysitting until she figures out what to do next.The babysitting will pat her bills. It toke Charlotte six to seven months to understand Georgie talk.Charlotte has known Gretchen two years now. Gretchen is killed by a cab when Matt is five and Georgie is two.Scott is not at home alot with his job so this is extra difficult for the two young boys Charlotte moves in to take care of the boys as she is the only person beside Gretchen who knew the boys routine. Then Charlotte ends up doing basically everything for the boys as their father is more distant as the boys remind him of Gretchen. Charlotte ends up handling the kids behavior problems both at home and at school, sessions with a psychologist and even planning birthday problems. Then Scott leaves Charlotte with the boys for an extended business trip out of the country and it’s really just to much. Charlotte isn’t even sure who she is anymore. I don’t really like when stories go back and forth in this case before death and after death then also several years before but it was pulled off pretty well here and I did get through it. What i didn’t like at all was how Scott just dumped everything on Charlotte instead of bonding with his sons who hurt and felt rage just like their dad did. Then to say he was going out of the country for an extended time. I just felt he was being a total jerk , weather he liked it or not or it hurt the boys were his responsibility not Charlotte's. I felt he was using Charlotte even though he was paying her. Charlotte was young and had her own life to get on with. Scott helped make the boys he needed to step up after all they were part of Gretchen also. Anyway it was worth reading this ,it was a very good story but as you could tell Scott irritated me. You do feel like you are right there with Charlotte. It recommend . I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
This is a riveting book. I did not want to put it down for a second. The authors voice is so true and pure. It is hard to explain how perfectly she captured the characters and lifestyle of Upper East Side New Yorkers. I highly recommend this novel and cannot give it enough praise.
This remarkable debut is not only a riveting story filled with heartbreak and humor but it also gives readers much to ponder in their own lives. Caroline Angell’s voice is so honest, so truthful that one almost feels she has penned a memoir. All The Time In The World is an extraordinary book - what a debut! We meet Charlotte, a young woman living in New York City who once dreamed of being a composer but has given that up after a teacher stole her composition. So to pay the rent she becomes a babysitter for a wealthy, loving Upper East Side family - the McLean’s. Scotty, Gretchen, and their two young sons, Matt and George. Charlotte finds her job distracting and rewarding while she tries to decide how to move forward after the betrayal that sent her off course. Before long she finds herself totally absorbed in the daily lives of the McLean’s - planning birthday parties, pick-ups and drop-offs, play dates, bathing, feeding, naps, and joyfully hearing little George’s first words when some had feared he would never speak. Charlotte’s personal life goes by the wayside as when a grad school friend comes to her with good news, she chooses to work late rather than be with him. Tragedy strikes when Gretchen is struck by a car on a gray, rainy day and dies. The scene in the hospital waiting room when relatives have gathered and the family hears the news is stunningly, heartbreakingly drawn. Suddenly Charlotte finds herself the boys’ primary care giver and the glue trying to keep this grieving family together, living a life she had never imagined - she moves into the McLean home to care for the boys and if at all possible assuage Scotty’s grief. She tries to do all of this under the watchful, sometimes judging eyes of friends and family. Scotty’s younger brother, Patrick, is a story in itself as we are privy to his responses to the tragedy and to Charlotte herself. Angell has chosen to tell her story by moving backyard and forward in time beginning with the day before Gretchen’s death, then moving to two years before when Charlotte applies for the job, and so on. This reader found that somewhat distracting but it did not detract from the power of this complex story that is both heart-breaking and life affirming. I eagerly await the next from Caroline Angell.
All The Time In The World: A Novel. Caroline Angell. Holt, Henry and Company, Inc.. July 2016. 336 pp. ISBN#: 9781627794015. Charlotte is a musician who is currently unemployed and wondering what she’s to do with her degrees and talents in music. She has a sometimes on and sometimes off boyfriend who is also a composer but for now she’s taken a job as a babysitter of the two McLean boys, Matty and George, in the upper East Side of Manhattan. She has no intention of making this a permanent job but she, like the reader, is quickly enamored of these two funny and caring little boys. Their parents, Scotty and Gretchen, are also unusual people who treat Charlotte as more than an employee, indeed a family member. The two boys are typical boys who keep this tale from seeming too good to be true. The normal day-to-day events come to a devastating halt when Gretchen dies and the remainder of the story becomes very complex as each character attempts to deal with this searing loss. Charlotte knows she is only an employee but also knows she is such an integral part of this broken family that she cannot just walk away from them, adding another traumatic loss to the experiences of these lost little boys and their father. Some other characters, like Scotty’s brother, add to the humorous, edgy and sexy textures woven into this memorable story. Caroline Angell has written a beautiful novel about loss and love that shows exceptional skill in exploring the multi-layered reactions to a family’s coping skills. No, it’s not depressing because the scenes are presented with remarkable sensitivity that also includes irony, laughter, and other “normal” scenes because life does go on in spite of the most grievous pain accompany loss. It’s also made even more fascinating as it weaves back and forth between the present, past and future. The reader never knows what to expect and this skillful presentation of time adds to the connected elements that weave together to form one unique story. Very nicely done, Caroline Angell – highly recommended contemporary fiction!
This was another great book that I did not want to put down. I felt so sorry for most of the characters involved in this book. Sorry for the husband that lost his wife. Sorry for the babysitter that lost her regular life. Sorry for the poor kids that this happened to. I could not imagine having to go through with that. It was such a good story and beautifully written with strong characters. Well, the dad was totally out of his league, but it was a whole new world to him, so you really can't blame him. The little boys were so cute as well. I can't believe a child doesn't talk until age 2 or 3 and then just starts speaking in complete sentences. That was crazy! And Pup, that was really sad. Yeah, you will probably need tissues for this one as well. Thanks Henry Holt and Net Galley for a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.