"Five days, fours hours and 22 minutes" is the babbling of a stranger who suddenly appears everywhere in the messy life of Tessa. Twenty four hours is how long it took me to read this book. It is really that engrossing.
Tessa is creative, bohemian, empathetic and in trouble. Brian is floundering, unkempt, confusing and persistent.
You need not believe in parellel universes. You need not understand physics. You need not appreciate fine art. You need not ever been part of the audience at a classical music recital. If you relate to any of these, you may find yourself connecting to a specific moment, a mention, a scene. Perhaps a passing mention of Blue Oyster Cult is where your connecting moment comes. Whenever it happens, is up to individual experience. From the very beginning, this novel is filled with the promise of interesting entanglements, delightful moments and new favorite literary bits.
Tessa, in today's world, is struggling to keep her co-op after her husband has left her. She works for an elder-care program based out of a church. She has a strong affinity for the church which is suffering its' own struggles. Money would solve both of their problems. Tessa connects to her seniors but in particular we learn about her relationship with Mrs. Leibowitz. Tessa has another task of adversity. She is an artist who has been in a blocked period. She has been unable to paint.
She collides with Brian on the sidewalk. He does not make sense. He seems to be suffering delusions. And his mutterings of "five days, four hours and twenty two minutes" is doing nothing to convince her of his sincerity. But since meeting him she keeps seeing potential paintings as she goes through the day. Incredibly no matter where she goes, he is there. More outlandish than his perpetual appearances, is his claims to be part of a parellel universe where he and she are more than just casually acquainted.
Tessa is skeptical of everything Brian has to say. She is more concerned with paying her back co-op fees, helping the church and reclaiming her art. But beneath her cynicism. or perhaps parellel to it, is interest. How does he know about her birthmark? How is it that he feels to be more familiar than a threat? How is it that he has unlocked her passion for creating art?
There are wonderful moments where words open up Tessa to believing. When she is spending time with Mrs. Leibowitz, the elderly woman says "Doing what you want is the prerogative of the dying. Should be the prerogative of the living, too, but it doesn't always work out that way." Then Brian "You always think you have forever, then you find it over before you realize."
This is the story that answers "what if?" Every day we make choices. This is the magic mirror look at what would have happened if certain choices were made.
There are interesting secondary characters that fill the story and make it meatier. A flamboyant gallery owner, a professor's dedicated assistant, a best friend off on a yoga retreat, a hooker with a defined adam's apple, today's Dr. Brian Tennyson, a black market art dealer, a dedicated clergyman, Apple Geniuses and more cluster around Brian and Tessa. In the span of five days, four hours and twenty two minutes there is adventure, guilt, passion, soul searching, kindness, death, rebirth and so much more. It is your prerogative as the reader whether you believe in the possibility of paralel universes. You will learn a bit about physics in the process of reading this book; "reality is non-local, and once two particles have interacted, they're forever intimately connected in some way". You need not be familiar with New York City to appreciate the locations referred to throughout. However, if you are, then the marble plaza at Lincoln Center is a fabulous setting for Tessa and Brian to explore the what if conversation. I find part of the scene there to be silly but the background of the spirits of symphonies, operas and ballets is perfect.
I refuse to be any more detailed than this in my review. I care not to throw in spoilers. Read and experience it all for yourself.