I remember the first time I saw New York’s Grand Central Terminal. I was in college. My Immigrant Fiction class had embarked on an excursion to New York City to walk in the footsteps of the approximately 12 million people who immigrated there between 1892 and 1954.
Like the immigrants before us, our first stop was Ellis Island, the official entry point. As we crossed the harbor to Ellis Island, I stood at the ferry’s rail, gazing at the Statue of Liberty who welcomed these people to their new home: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
After we visited both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, we headed over to 42nd Street and Park Avenue to tour Grand Central Terminal, built in 1913. Perhaps some immigrants heading to different locales to live might have caught a train at Grand Central Station? It is possible. Grand Central Terminal was and still is the most famous railway terminal in the world.
However, Grand Central is much more than a railroad station. High above the exterior doors is the ethereal sculpture featuring Hercules, representing physical strength; Mercury, the god of travel and commerce; and Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and protector of cities. Under them is an ornate clock made of Tiffany glass. Then, there is the main concourse. I remember gazing across the expanse to the information booth with its famous four-faced clock; each face crafted of opal. And above was a ceiling of constellations, painted backward as if I were seeing the stars from God’s vantage point. What a wondrous sight!
It is in this world-renowned setting that the novel, Time After Time, written by Lisa Grunwald, takes place. Spanning from the mid-1920s through the mid-1940s and beyond, Time After Time tells the love story of Nora Lansing and Joe Reynolds. The first time they meet one another is on a bright, early December morning in 1937. Joe is a Queens’ Irishman who is the youngest leverman ever to work at Grand Central Station. Nora is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper getup and Roaring Twenties jargon seem out-of-place and outdated and yet they work for her. From the moment these two meet, they are drawn to one another, despite their backgrounds and circumstances. And nothing, not time nor space or even death will keep Nora and Joe from one another.
Time After Time is a must-read for history buffs and romantics alike. Exceptionally well-written and well-researched, this novel delves deeply into the history of the Grand Central Terminal. So much has happened over the last century on those 48 acres in midtown Manhattan. Then, there is Nora and Joe, two likable, yet fabulously flawed individuals willing to fight against all odds to be together and sacrifice everything for the other. Steeped in magic and mysticism, Time After Time is much more than your run-of-the-mill love story. It is an adventure.