One of our recommended books is Time in a Bottle by Marjorie Klein


Could the Fountain of Youth be real?

Lorelei, a 60-year-old virgin, owns a Miami lingerie shop, eats organic food, and minds her own business. She never considers alternatives to this life until the day her well runs dry, when Juan the well-digger plunges its depths and taps into the flow of hidden water from an underground spring. She attributes her awakening sensuality and increasingly youthful appearance to her healthy lifestyle. Her business partner, Sharleen, suspects that the water has more to do with Lorelei’s changes than the ingestion of kale and quinoa and embarks on a campaign to sell it from the shop.

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Could the Fountain of Youth be real?

Lorelei, a 60-year-old virgin, owns a Miami lingerie shop, eats organic food, and minds her own business. She never considers alternatives to this life until the day her well runs dry, when Juan the well-digger plunges its depths and taps into the flow of hidden water from an underground spring. She attributes her awakening sensuality and increasingly youthful appearance to her healthy lifestyle. Her business partner, Sharleen, suspects that the water has more to do with Lorelei’s changes than the ingestion of kale and quinoa and embarks on a campaign to sell it from the shop.

Someone else is interested in this water: Winona, a 500-year-old Native American woman who has been following the spring through the ages in her eternal search for youth and has lost its trail. She finds it in Lorelei’s back yard and is desperate to claim it once again for herself. Her obsession leads to Juan’s linked ancestry to Ponce de Leon, to Winona’s connection with that history, and to the ultimate convergence of all their stories. Obsession with youth, fear of death, and the vagaries of time are ideas explored by quirky characters with depth and insight beneath their offbeat humor.

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  • Black Rose Writing
  • Paperback
  • February 2023
  • 274 Pages
  • 9781685131425

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About Marjorie Klein

Marjorie Klein is the author of Time in a BottleMarjorie Klein’s first novel, Test Pattern (Wm. Morrow Publishers, 2000; HarperCollins/Perennial 2001) was a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection. Boom! A Miami Beach Story was published in 2021. Her essays and narrative nonfiction have appeared in various publications, including 20 years of writing for Tropic, the Miami Herald‘s former Sunday magazine. Recipient of a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship and an MFA from Florida International University, she served as a preliminary judge for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts for 13 years and is a member of the Flatiron Writers group in Asheville. She has taught in writing programs at the university level in Florida and North Carolina, and presently lives in the Asheville, NC area.

Author Website


Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers’ Favorite

Time in a Bottle: Could the Fountain of Youth Be Real? by Marjorie Klein is a speculative fiction novel about a sixty-year-old virgin named Lorelei who discovers that she is sitting on a mythical spring that people have been writing about for thousands of years. Pretty impressive, considering the old girl only wanted a new well dug up so she could take a decent bath. But something is very, very different about the water that an attractive plumber named Jose excavates. Its clarity and taste are unmatched. So too are its properties that begin to reinvigorate Lorelei’s life and completely change her outlook on the lingerie store she co-owns. Still, in the same way that it has been said there is no such thing as a free lunch, Lorelei’s water and those who surround her and partake of it will begin to discover that drinking from the fountain of youth comes with some serious caveats.

Of course, I immediately picked up Time in a Bottle moments after reading the blurb. A sixty-year-old virgin? A Frederick’s of Hollywood style lingerie shop? A fountain of youth? When you wrap all these things up in a Miami setting which, by the way, is known in real life as The Magic City, at the very least a reader can rest assured the plot will be interesting. I think what made this novel by Marjorie Klein engrossing beyond the shiny description is that this is also a story about the deadly dangers that come with the desire for youth and what we tend to see as conventional beauty. Young tight bodies with skin that is smooth and dewy. The alternating points of view dance between women, one with a desire to simply feel and look better, and another obsessed to a degree and for a length of time that rivals Dame Gothel. The writing is excellent and even ancillary characters are fully developed. I swear after only a couple of scenes I was convinced that Lorelei’s open-mouthed and closed-minded neighbor was the world’s grandmother. This is truly a remarkable read.

Time in a Bottle is a story so delightful, so exquisitely told, and so exhilarating that you’ll want to stand up and cheer when you’ve finished. Marjorie Klein is always fun to read, and here she is at the top of her game. She’s breathed life into her characters, into Lorelei, Sharleen, and Juan, into the irascible Corabelle and the preternatural Winona, and these irresistible folks breathe life into us. Lorelei thinks she’s found the fountain of youth but may have found something more important-herself.” -John Dufresne, author of I Don’t Like Where This Is Going

“Once again the fans of Marjorie Klein can celebrate as she brings a magical elixir of whimsy and gravitas to a tale that is spelling-binding in more ways than one. The city of Miami is a willing accomplice, providing a pitch-perfect backdrop to what is a wise meditation on youth and aging, disguised as a romp. A non-trigger warning: readers will revel in knowing nods of recognition and happy tears of laughter.” -Madeleine Blais is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of Queen of the Court: The Many Lives of Tennis Legend Alice Marble

“In this novel, Marjorie Klein bottles water from the Fountain of Youth with wacky humor, pop culture, sexy lingerie and an alluring sense of place (southeastern Florida). The magical water may be elusive, but the promise of a second chance at life and love will sustain readers long after they finish the book.” -Heather Newton, author of The Puppeteer’s Daughters and Under the Mercy Trees

“What do Florida, lingerie saleswomen and The Fountain of Youth have in common? Time In A Bottle, a book with enough lace and larceny to keep the hilarity flowing.Watch out readers, this one’s hard to put down!” -Maryedith Burrell, Emmy-award winning writer and producer

Time in a Bottle is audacious and touching and comic and wonderfully written. It’s an adventure, one that relies on a fountain of youth, Ponce de Leon, and present-day characters who are frayed by time, then re-invigorated. You’ll be taken inside a world that is both magnetic and charming, a world you’d never be able to experience except here, in these pages.” -Judy Goldman, author of Child: A Memoir

Discussion Questions

1. One of the themes in the novel is the strength of female friendship. Lorelei and Sharleen’s friendship goes back to high school. How has it evolved since then, and how does their relationship change over the course of the book? Each eventually acquires the quirks and qualities of each other; when that happens, how do they react to that exchange?

2. Another theme is our obsession with youth — if not the actual retention of youth, then the appearance of it. How does the book address this theme? Some of the minor characters are examples of how we desperately cling to youth, whether through surgery, lotions and potions, self-deception, or the hope of magic water. How does this affect our everyday lives, or does it? How much do advertising and social media feed on this desire to look young and play on the fear of aging? How is it expressed in the book?

3. Water is a character in the book, having its own mini-chapters. It seems to be intent on escaping from man throughout. Did these little chapters affect your own perspective of water as an element, and did you come to see it almost as a sentient being? Or did it remain just…water to you?

4. Juan is a developing character who is a pivotal force in Lorelei’s evolution from prim to passionate. How does his story parallel Lorelei’s in some ways, even though they come from totally different worlds? His back story forms the basis for the revelation that he is descended from Ponce de Leon. While this is historically possible, does this add dimension to Juan’s character even though it’s fictionalized? Does the bending of historical facts add to or detract from your reading of historical fantasy?

5. While the changes that occur in Lorelei and Sharleen are attributed to the water, what else could account for those changes? Do you think that they would have eventually changed if not for the water?

6. Winona embodies what might be the result of living for centuries, and what that endless search for immortality could entail. Does she seem to feel it’s worth it? Does she live her very long life enjoying life, or is her entire focus on just staying young and never facing death? How do you think she changes at the end, assuming she does change, and if so, is her change for the better?

7. The Winona sub-plot is really a quest story, where she is endlessly searching for the spring, and the spring is always eluding her (and mankind). Does this have a deeper meaning, symbolically, and what do you think that is?

8. When the sinkhole swallows up Lorelei’s home and all her possessions, as well as what little remnants of her youth that she had, how does that play into the underlying theme of living in the present? What other scenes or commentary might be connected to that same theme? And do you agree with that, or is the alternate theme that our past experiences create our present and determine our future more compatible with your philosophy? Or do both viewpoints work in their own way to create a life?

9. While the book on the surface may seem to be a light historical fantasy, told in several voices, was there any resonance to what the voices were saying? If so, what did you take away from what they had to say? If not, given the opportunity to dissuade one or more of the voices, what would your argument be?

10. If you could live forever, would you really want to? If so, why? If not, why not?


Lorelei kicks up dust as she walks, frosting her new white Reeboks with a rusty haze. She walks briskly, head high, arms pumping, breathing deeply. Her lungs burn from the parched air, sun-sizzled despite the early hour. Melaleuca Lakes slumbers in post-dawn ennui, a pastiche of pink, blue and yellow houses. Subdued in this light, the delicate pastels will become garish as the sun climbs higher, exposing their true colors in its unrelenting glare.

Corabelle, her elderly neighbor, is up as well, perched on her porch rocker, surveying all as the self-designated neighborhood watchdog. “Hot enough for ya?” Corabelle hollers.

Lorelei nods her head once, accelerating past Corabelle. She does not smile. Smile, and people want to stop and talk, and she has no patience for that. A glance at her watch shows there’s just enough time to make another lap around the block, a quick shower, then off to work.

She is chief fitter and part owner of Ladybug Lingerie. This is not a flighty profession, despite the proximity to fluff. Admittedly, times have changed since she first entered the field. Whereas once brassieres were designed as objects of containment, they have evolved into frivolous bits of enticement, the purpose of which she sometimes questions. Nevertheless, fit is as crucial in trashy styles as it is in the truly supportive, and Lorelei is a professional.


Inspiration + Imagination = Fiction

by Marjorie Klein


How do you explain inspiration? Maybe it arises from everyday observation and experience that may lie dormant until something triggers it, like biting into a honey-drenched biscuit and being flooded with memories of a grandparent (shades of Proust). Or catching a whiff of springtime in the air that reminds you of a long-ago love. Then you take those fleeting memories, infuse them with your (probably overactive) imagination, let them steep in your unconscious, and voila! An idea for a book. Or a character. Or a setting where something (you may have no idea yet) happens. Or a scene that belongs somewhere, but you don’t have a clue where that might be.

Some of my inspiration comes from years of writing non-fiction for publications, often covering amazing real stories that embedded themselves into my subconscious and later emerged as armature for my fiction. Entire scenes in my books can be traced to their origins in articles that I wrote years earlier for the Miami Herald‘s Sunday magazine. My last two books are set in Miami, and I can attribute the inspirational spark for both books to my living in and writing about that city and its people. Turning those experiences into fiction gave reality another dimension for me.

Often, in researching something for a novel, I find that research takes me into territory that changes the direction and plot of my story. Researching early Native Americans in Florida for my book, Time in a Bottle, inspired the creation of a major character in the book. Imagination took over, and she evolved from the history I was reading about those tribes into a strong and mysterious character. Where did she come from? How did she spring to life in my imagination? I don’t know. But here she is, as alive, at least in my mind, as anyone I’ve ever encountered in real life.

Research also led to my development of water as a character of sorts, having its own mini-chapters throughout the book, creating a theme that carried throughout—not too surprisingly, since the book is a contemporary Fountain of Youth story. But water? A character? What inspired that?

Sometimes it’s just the alchemy of disparate objects or experiences meeting and inspiring an idea having nothing to do with its original sources. A scene in Boom! originated from my spontaneously deciding to go to the clearance sale of the contents of the Fountainebleau Hotel before it was gutted to be renovated. What was I going to do with that? I had no idea. But something told me to be there because it was just too weird to pass up. I knew I’d use it somewhere. And I did.

I don’t know if I’d call it inspiration, but when I’m on a writing roll in my fiction, I often feel that I’m just transcribing the movie in my head. It’s all there: the characters, the setting, the dialogue. I can see it all happening, hear what they’re saying, watch my characters do what they do. I hesitate to confess this because it seems a little…hallucinatory. But how else to explain it?

Maybe inspiration isn’t definable. Maybe it’s more in the realm of woo-woo. Sometimes, just when I’m on the cusp of falling asleep, images float on the edge of my consciousness: People I’ve never met, places I’ve never been, scenery totally unfamiliar to my waking self. I watch all this with benign interest, as if I’m on a train that’s traveling through foreign but fascinating territory, lulling me to sleep. I never gave this experience much thought until, in my research on LSD for a book on recreational drugs that I co-authored many years ago, I came across a term, eidetic imagery.

Not to be confused with eidetic memory, also known as photographic memory, eidetic imagery—an interior kaleidoscope of colors, patterns, people and scenes—may materialize under the influence of psychedelics, or when daydreaming or falling asleep. Scientific explanations abound, but perhaps this landscape from another world is really my source of inspiration. So, when asked, where do I get my ideas? I can answer: From the place where dreams begin.