Every New Year’s Eve since 1946, Nate Meyer has ventured alone to Times Square to listen for the ghostly church bells he and his long-lost wartime lover vowed to hear together. This year, however, his grandson Blaine is pushing Nate through the Manhattan streets, revealing his secrets to his silent, stroke-stricken grandfather.
When Blaine introduces his boyfriend to his beloved grandfather, he has no idea that Nate holds a similar secret. As they endure the chilly death of the old year, Nate is drawn back in memory to a much earlier time . . . and to Walter.
Long before, in a peace carefully crafted in the heart of wartime tumult, Nate and Walter forged a loving home in the midst of violence and chaos. But nothing in war is permanent, and now all Nate has is memories of a man his family never knew existed. And a hope that he’ll finally hear the church bells that will unite everybody—including the lovers who hid the best and most sacred parts of their hearts.
I expected this book to be sad. I knew deep down that there would be no HEA for Nate and Walter. What I didn’t expect was to feel as much as I did or to be affected as much as I was. Because of those first two statements, I almost ignored The Bells of Times Square. Because of the last statement, I’m so glad that I picked it up. There are things that I will never look at the same way again.
The Bells of Time Square was a book of love and loss, but it was so much more than that. I don’t think I would have walked away from this book with the same impression if it had been set in a different time frame. This book covered a lot of ground, but it was done seamlessly. It opened in the present. Nate was trapped in a body that was crippled by a stroke. He knew everything that was going on around him, but he couldn’t communicate. That in itself was devastating enough, but what he had endured and hidden up until then was even worse. Seeing his loving grandson Blaine with his boyfriend is the trigger that brings memories flooding back, both good and bad.
WWII was a horrific time in history. The fact that Nate not only served as a soldier during that war, but was also Jewish was what pulled me in… the relationship between Walter and Nate is what wouldn’t let me go. Walter not only saved Nate’s life, he awakened a part of him that he tried desperately to ignore. Walter had been through his own torment before Nate showed up. Basically, these two men saved each other. What the experienced was beautiful, horrific, heroic and heart breaking.
I think what touched me most in The Bells of Time Square wasn’t just the romance between these two men. It was more what happened after. Even though Nate kept things close to his heart and didn’t reveal his past, those close to him during that time knew, understood and offered their silent support. Through the horrors and loss of war, something good could be taken away from it. That’s important and what I will remember most from this story.
Just one more thing… if you read The Bells of Time Square, take time to read the notes at the end written by Amy Lane. Her insight to this time in history is worth learning. I walked away from this story wishing I could talk to some of my relatives about their experiences and understanding why they kept a lot of what happened to themselves.