Susan Thornton's book, From Time to Time, is reminiscent of The Notebook in that the story is well written and compelling, and anybody who doesn't cry at the end has no soul. Thornton laces together a fine tapestry of flashbacks, empathic events, and present revelations that thread the needle of a well woven story.
The setting is Baltimore, and for those who have been there, the landmarks and geographic descriptions bring familiarity to the story. For those who have never visited, this book will paint the picture of a quaint, charming side of the city that will make them want to come and explore.
Thornton also draws on the Catholic heritage of the city and her own Catholic faith to incorporate a Christian sensibility that neither punishes nor patronizes the reader. It is a story of redemption, in which the religious aspects are integral and welcome.
The story is fast paced and highly readable, and draws the reader in with well rounded characters who may seem a little clichéd, but whose personalities will connect with almost all readers in some way. The action takes place over the short space of a few weeks, so Thornton keeps the narrative moving by avoiding oppressively long exposition in favor of realistic dialogue that not only advances the story, but also develops the characters in the same way that people become friends - one conversation at a time.
Thornton's first effort is a friendly, thoughtful, and entertaining read that is easy to dive into and hard to put down (I stayed up into the wee hours reading, which I rarely do). This is one of those books that make you sad to be finished and looking forward to another well told story from this author.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)