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In Another Time by Jillian Canton is a romantic story about how love transcends time. The following book club questions will have spoilers so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my review first.
This WWII-era story unfolds through decades and across continents, in alternating viewpoints. After a prologue from the late ’50s, we then jump back to 1931 Germany where we meet bookshop owner Max Beissinger. Upon hearing Hanna Ginsberg play the violin, he’s instantly enchanted. Their love affair unfolds over the next five years while the climate drastically changes in Germany as Hitler comes to power. Hanna is Jewish and Max is not and the country is forcing them to become star-crossed lovers of sorts. However, Max also has a secret, one he believes will save Hanna if Germany becomes too dangerous.
Flash forward to 1946, and Hanna wakes up in a field outside of Berlin. She has no memory of the past 10 years and no idea what happened to Max. Without any information of where he is, she throws herself into her music and pursues her lifelong dream of becoming a concert violinist. However, she remains haunted by her forgotten past, and the fate of Max.
Let’s get into the book club questions
- Let’s first talk about the prologue. It’s set in 1958 and Hanna has a visitor. How did this set up the stage for what was to come?
- The story alternates between the ’30s from Max’s perspective and the mid-40s to Hanna’s. What did you think about the dual narrative? Did you like the jump back and forth between timelines?
- A key aspect of the story is Max’s discovery of the ‘wormhole’ in his father’s bookstore. Did you see hints of time travel prior the revelation of the wormhole?
- Hanna in 1946 has no memory of the past 10 years. What did you at first think happened to her? When we learned about the wormhole, did you think Max had put her in the future?
- We learn that Hanna did suffer trauma as she was sent to the camp to play in the orchestra. Did you suspect that it was Hanna at the camp when she met Adelle?
- There’s plenty of vivid details about life in Berlin post-war. But we also slowly witness the progression to Nazi, Germany. What did you think about those historical details?
- Max seeing the future tries to get Hanna to leave Germany but she won’t because the country is still her home. Let’s discuss this.
- Do you agree with Max’s decision to keep the wormhole a secret from Hanna? How would have the story played out differently if he would have told her the truth?
- Much about the novel surrounds Hanna’s endearing love for her violin. In many ways, her music is the constant in her life. Let’s talk about Hanna’s journey to becoming a successful concert violinist. Are you a musician or have you played an instrument? Can you relate to Hanna in that way?
- What did you think about Hanna’s dynamic with Henry?
- Max learns that no matter how hard he tired, the world moves on and time moves forward. Max ended up sacrificing himself with helping out the two families and also trying to save Hanna. Let’s get a little sci-fi/techy here. Why do you think time travel took so much out of Max and his family? Is it because it’s going against nature or is the act itself just messes with someone’s body?
- Hanna and Max spend one more night together in the ’50s before he passes away. Were you surprised when Matt passed away? What happens next for Hanna?
Additional historical fiction reads
There’s already been so many fantastic historical fiction books come out this year! Here are some more recommendations. (Click the titles or photos to purchase from Amazon.)
The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio is an engaging story about dreams, love, Old Hollywood and a mystery, too.
The year is 1958 and Kate Morgan, tied to her family’s failing San Francisco restaurant, is looking for an escape. She gets her chance by honoring a cryptic plea from her grandfather: find the beautiful stranger. The search takes her to Hotel del Coronado, the beachfront landmark on the Southern California coast where filming is underway on the movie Some Like It Hot.
For a movie lover like Kate, it’s a fantasy come true. So is the offer of a position at the glamorous hotel. And a new romance. But as sure as she is that Coronado is her future, Kate discovers it’s also where the ghosts of the past have come to stay. Sixty years ago a guest died tragically, and she still haunts the hotel’s halls. As the lives of two women—generations apart—intertwine, Kate’s courageous journey could change more than she ever imagined. And with Coronado wending its way through her soul, she must follow her dreams…wherever they may lead.
The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey is a moving story about a trio of friends who head to Europe in 1944. The year is 1944 and Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered. Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.
Feel free to comment below with your thoughts about In Another Time!