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The Time In Between

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,874 ratings  ·  98 reviews
In search of love, absolution, or forgiveness, Charles Boatman leaves the Fraser Valley of British Columbia and returns mysteriously to Vietnam, the country where he fought twenty-nine years earlier as a young, reluctant soldier. But his new encounters seem irreconcilable with his memories.

When he disappears, his daughter Ada, and her brother, Jon, travel to Vietnam, to th
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 28th 2006 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published August 16th 2005)
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Scotiabank Giller Prize winners
13th out of 22 books — 55 voters
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Best books on Asia
133rd out of 637 books — 432 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jennifer (aka EM)
Just a few notes here before this book evaporates into the ether on me; which is not an indictment of its quality (more, my own poor literary memory. Hence the need for these notes.) Also, there are not enough reviews, nor readers, for this novel. It really deserves a wider audience.

David Bergen, a Canadian writer, won the Giller for this in 2005 and another of his - The Age of Hope - was a finalist in Canada Reads 2013. I had never read him before.

The Time In Between focuses on a U.S. veteran w
David Berger’sThe Time in Between won the Canadian Giller Prize in 2005, and it’s a captivating book. I wanted something interesting to read after the disappointment of The Big Fellow, so I began Brian Castro’s Drift, which I love, but that’s a complex book and not one for bedtime reading. The Time in Between, however, was ideal. It is a slow meditation on war and its aftermath, and how different cultures deal with it.

The first part of the novel is framed around Charles Boatman, a Vietnam Veter
I'm trying very hard to find something positive to say about The Time in Between , but not much is leaping to mind. It wasn't the worst book ever, it was engrossing and easy to read, but having finished I don't feel that usual sense of gladness that I read it.

The main story of the book, or so I thought, is resolved halfway through. After that it's as though the characters just didn't want to leave. They interact with other people, sometimes in significant ways, and yet don't seem to grow or dev
Quân Khuê
Có những lý do khác nhau để người ta thích một cuốn tiểu thuyết: một câu chuyện, một vấn đề, một kỷ niệm, một cách ứng xử, hay một cấu trúc. Với Ở lưng chừng thời gian, tôi đặc biệt thích văn, một giọng văn lơ mơ mà ám ảnh. Vết hằn cuộc chiến Việt Nam lên đời sống tinh thần của một cựu chiến binh Mỹ là đề tài của tiếu thuyết này. Đọc Ở lưng chừng thời gian không thể không nghĩ đến Nỗi buồn chiến tranh của Bảo Ninh – hai cuốn này tạo thành một cặp tiểu thuyết cân xứng về người lính hai bên chiến ...more
My appreciation for this novel lies more in its technical merits than in the experience of reading it. I could have dismissed it as an unsettling and depressing story with a fractured, meandering structure and disappointing conclusion. However, connecting with a fundamental theme in the story, I was compelled to look at the subject of personal and cultural history and question how, and why I felt this way. The more I reflected and re-examined the novel, the more layers of depth I discovered, sub ...more
- Ah, to look forward to a book, only to be disappointed again! Yet another war-themed book that didn't really have anything original to say. War is sad. We get it! War leaves casualties; sometimes not always physical. War isn't fair, etc, etc...But what else??? What else can you teach a younger generation who have not lived through the agony of war how to be more empathic and connected to those who have sacrificed so much for us?
- I've had this book on my shelf for awhile...Many years ago I sta
An interesting bringing together of all of it, and of course Yen is the ghost of the boy that her father killed in the village where she visited, where they spread his ashes, the boy he thought at first was a soldier, but turned out to be just a boy, a boy that haunted him and his children until now, or maybe forever. A wrong cannot ever really go away.
"She said, 'There are many things I love here. The rooster calling in the courtyard. I love that. Or having tea with that old man today. We didn'
Bergen explores coping with grief in "The Time In Between"; needless to say, it was not a happy book. His prose is plain-- which is something I don't mind, but it's a little surprising that the book won the Giller. Yet, the plain prose makes it easier to read through the characters' introspection and detailed sequences of mundane actions. I'm only rating this as "ok" because the story wasn't very remarkable, but it was readable.
This is the kind of book you either like or don't like. The pace is slow and the subject, the effect of the Viet Nam War on its American soldiers, is one that has birthed thousands of books. How can there be anything new for us? Here we meet Ada and John who travel to Viet Nam looking for their father who has suddenly left home in British Columbia and just disappeared. This is a quest on Ada's part not only to find her father but also to find answers to vague, uneasy questions about his past. As ...more
A former solider in the Vietnam war, Charles emigrated to Canada when his marriage fell apart upon his return; he eventually becomes the sole parent to his three children and raises them to adulthood. Yet the pull of the country he fought in as a young man beckons him in middle age back across the ocean and he finds himself again in Da Nang. With Charles' subsequent dissappearance, his daughter Ada and son John travel to Vietnam in an effort to track him down. The central portion of the novel de ...more
book club 1/09 read early in Nov. 2008
I haven't read much about Vietnam so this gave me information about the 60's there. The author's style is short, curt sentences. I guess that I like words to flow easily and beautifully. Also it was hard to identify with these characters.
Moira Sr. Fogarty
I listened to this as a book on CD - the readers were excellent and I wish I could say I was engrossed by the story, however, I found the father to be an unappealing character with no thought except for his own self gratification and his self involvement. Not a book I would recommend.
This was very boring and irrelevant writing that could have been an interesting look at a former Vietnam veteran returning to an unrecognizable land thirty years later. Bergen falls short, especially in characterization, but also in connecting all of the pieces.
I love the first part of this book and the story could have ended with the first section. Up until I started part two, I would have given this at least four stars. For me the second part of this book ruined the story, I felt it dragged it out unnecessarily.
Terry S
Not what I had expected. I enjoyed the beginning more than the end. Anticipating a better ending caused me to finish the book, but it fell flat in my opinion. Maybe I just missed the point!
I didn't find the characters believable. The main character, in my opinion, would not play Scrabble. Not recommended. I read it because it won the Giller Prize.
If it weren't for book club I never would have finished this. I couldn't relate to anyone.
Tee Bear
I read it but I can't really remember it. Therefore, I consider it forgettable.
Awful. I can't think of anything else to say about this book.
Liz Farrington
This book is atmospheric rather than plot-driven, which as a general rule I don't mind, but it certainly makes this a slower read than the page count suggests. I also found it a little too heavy-handed in its depiction of the Vietnam War (and the value of anti-war art, for that matter), which slowed things down further. The first half of the book revolved totally around Jon and Ada's search for their father, Charles, and switched between Ada's and Charles's perspectives. But there came a point h ...more
Elizabeth Mcnair
I read this book as a part of a challenge for a book set in Asia. This was set in Vietnam and the story of a brother and sister who travel to find their father who went back years after being there as a soldier. I loved the descriptions of the country and the culture and people. I found the ending rather strange and left me hanging somewhat and tried to figure out a character that was throughout the book-which I thought was rather random and wondered why we focused on him at the end. Other than ...more
Thinking of something to say about his book brings to mind the lyrics of the song War. War, what is it good for, absolutely nothing!!

This book examines the aftermath of war on various individuals. First, Charles Boatman, an ex-pat American living in Canada. He fought in Vietnam and has a longing to return there to ultimately try and slay the demons in his head, demons that settled in after a particularly disturbing situation occurred during a raid on a small village. Charles' children have lived
The Time in Between is a sad book. All the characters are longing for something they can't have, and each of them reacts to this in their own ways. It was heartbreaking to watch these people tirelessly search for something they can't possibly find, because what they want is so abstract that it doesn't exist or only exists in the "time in between". Half of them don't even know what they're looking for yet they feel incomplete without it. The book is constructed around this theme, and sadness seem ...more
Nancy Oakes
Another entry on my reading list for March, The Time In Between won the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize, which recognizes "excellence in Canadian fiction." If you're interested, you can read about it here. And imho, this book definitely deserved a prize of some sort.

On the back cover of my copy of The Time in Between there is a blurb from the San Francisco Chronicle saying "A sparse and moving meditation on the burden of war across generations." I couldn't have described it better. As the book beg
Dawn Michelle
Feb 19, 2008 Dawn Michelle rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dawn Michelle by: Saw him win The Giller Prize for it on TV
SIGH. It took me awhile to finish this book. While I liked the way the author writes, I wasn't crazy about the story he was telling. It was very sad (which obviously seems to be a theme with me right now) and I didn't understand why the main character did some of the things she did. AND, I hated the ending. It was abrupt. I hate that. I feel you are left hanging, in a way.
I may read another one of his books, only because I really liked his style of writing. It just may have been the story itsel
Sheri Radford
I do not understand why this novel has garnered so many awards and accolades. The plot is practically non-existent, the characters are uninteresting and don't develop in any way, the writing is terse and stilted, and the theme can be summed up as "war is bad." Ho hum. I thought the foreign setting would at least be appealing, but I feel like I learned nothing whatsoever about Vietnam, other than that the people are poor. All in all, a bleak, boring book full of people who don't act anything like ...more
Shirley Schwartz
This is a Giller Prize winning book from 2005. I am working my way through the list of past winners. This book to me was middle of the road for a Giller Prize winner. The writing is almost poetic-spare and descriptive. The story is set in British Columbia, Canada and in Vietnam. I liked the settings very much. I found that the book did move me and gave an insight into post traumatic stress. Charles Boatman served in the Vietnam war and then comes to settle in Canada afterwards. He secludes himse ...more
Val Kaminska
The Time In Between is, essentially, a quest, a search for something, nobody knows what, and arriving to a conclusion that there was nothing to find in the first place.

Plot-wise, there were no mysteries, buried secrets and life-changing decisions, except, of course, for a death here and there.

The story really is a "time in between" for Ada, Charles' daughter, who must learn to deal with the fact that her father is gone, become ready to leave Vietnam and go home to Canada and just continue to l
Lisa Dyer
I can't say this book was exciting. In fact it was a little dull but it was a curious look into the ongoing affects of war on the soldiers and their families, even years after the event. Charles, an American Vietnam Vet returns to Vietnam after reading a book about the War from the Vietnamese side. He is searching for closure, and for answers to the way he feels (depression) about his actions during the war. When he disappears, two of his children head over to search for him. They too, Ada in pa ...more
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CBC Books: * 2005 - The Time In Between, David Bergen 3 18 Jan 10, 2015 10:14AM  
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Born in Port Edward, British Columbia, author David Bergen worked as a writer and high school English teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba, before gaining a great deal of recognition in Canada when his novel The Time In Between won the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize, one of Canada's most prestigious literary awards. The novel also received a starred review in Kirkus Reviews and was longlisted for the 2007 ...more
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