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All the Time in the World    by Caroline Angell order for
All the Time in the World
by Caroline Angell
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2016 (2016)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Composing music was Charlotte's life, and obtaining a Master's degree with her teacher Jess praising her work and seeming to value her talent over that of any of the rest of the group was the high point. Until three years ago her 'life had been as linear as a road map, the progression so natural that sometimes it took {her} a while to notice the milestones. {She} could draw a straight line from Yamaha preschool to the beloved record player {her} parents kept in our upstairs hallway.'

She became a truly gifted composer, so much so that her beloved teacher Jess stole her best work and claimed it as her own. After finishing her Master's program and finding out this truth, Charlotte was so hurt that she left music and became a highly paid babysitter in New York City, much to the bemusement of her musical friends and everyone she knew except the two people aware of the truth, her sisters.

After working for an Internet babysitting service for a year, she was hired by Gretchen and Scotty McLean to care for their two little boys, Matthew and George. She loved this family. Their wealth did not seem to affect their personalities and Gretchen, especially, became a close friend who confided her fears and frustrations about Georgie's seeming inability to speak at the age of two. The boys got along well most of the time and sometimes Charlotte wondered whether four-year-old Matty was aiding his little brother too much when he patiently attempted to find out what Georgie wanted as the younger boy would point and shake his head.

After a sudden tragedy and loss destroyed the happiness of the family, Charlotte finds herself drawn into their grief as she deals with her own. Each of these characters is so well presented that the reader feels exactly what they are going through, as Charlotte observes and struggles. Other family members are included in the story, and we also meet Charlotte's support group: her sisters and her friends from graduate school, especially Everett, whose musical career seems to be blossoming while Charlotte treads water trying to forget the teacher's betrayal and figure out what she should be doing with her life.

All the Time in the World is Caroline Angell's first novel, and she has put so much soul into it that, even as I'd stop reading and go about my daily chores I would be worrying about the characters and wondering how in the world they were going to survive and move on with their lives. It is Charlotte's story though, and her ability to be strong for the members of the family while going through her own suffering and confusion is impressive. On a lesser but also significant note, I enjoyed all the musical inventions and found it funny and endearing that Charlotte's primary instrument is the ukulele, which is not one usually associated with brilliant composing.

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