This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Random House
Released on June 11, 2019
A romance, magic, and a story centered around Grand Central Station in the 1930’s and 1940’s all combined together to tell a bittersweet story. Add in almost love at first sight and a tragedy and I was hooked.
I’m a sucker for books that feature a magical element so as soon as I read the blurb for this book, I knew I wanted to read it. It’s going to be hard to review this without spoilers, but I will try my best.
Joe works at Grand Central Station in New York City. He’s a leverman, otherwise known as one of the many men it took back then to keep all the trains on the correct tracks. It’s not an easy job, but it’s 1937 and it’s good work for that time period as America is still dealing with the depression. One December day he sees a beautiful young woman alone in the station at daybreak. She’s not wearing a coat and seems a bit lost. Joe is a good guy and he approaches her to try and help. The station is not a great place for unaccompanied young women. Nora has a huge secret. When she meets Joe, she has a hard time talking to the personable, helpful man. She really can’t answer most of his questions. Her life is pretty mysterious to even her. He has to leave her to go to work and doesn’t see her again for another year. Both had never forgotten each other and their previous meeting. There’s definitely an attraction going on.
I enjoyed Joe and Nora as characters. The author is very true to the time period right down to the words used back then, like calling someone swell if you liked them. The style of dress was also perfect for the period. Nora has been raised in the upper crust of society in the city, while Joe was from Queens. She’s twenty two and a college graduate just home from months spent in Paris, while he is thirty two and has never been farther than some of the NYC suburbs. None of that even mattered to them. The main side character would have to be Grand Central Station itself. I really had no idea how huge the station is and had even less of an idea about all the history surrounding the structure. Of course, I have seen movies that have scenes that take place there, but that is just scratching the surface. To make it even more interesting, we as readers learn about the workings of the station from an historical point of view. I’m sure a lot is different now.
I’ve got to hand it to the author. The sheer amount of research that she had to have done to take this story from the thirty’s to the forty’s, to the station back then, World War II when it happens and all the changes that the station incurs because of that, played a big part as well. The premise was well thought out and for the most part well executed, but not without problems. What started as a book I thought I was going to adore, became a pretty slow read for me and I kept putting it down. Don’t get me wrong, it was well written, but had a bit too much of the backstory of the station and the war so it lagged for me. It was interesting, but maybe a bit too much for what I had hoped to be a romantic story.
I’ve kept the story details mysterious and I hope if you decide to read this that you don’t read any spoilers. To me, my favorite part was finding out about the magic and the mystery. I also enjoyed the romance to a point. Enough said about that.
Recommended to women’s fiction and adult romance readers that enjoy magical elements in their stories. I don’t think I will be forgetting this one anytime soon.