A quiet corner of unoccupied France is the setting for this beautifully written, and utterly heart-breaking wartime story which focuses on the lives of very different people. All of them have been affected by an appalling tragedy, the details of which, at the start of the novel we know very little. However, as the story gradually unfolds, and as their stories combine and coalesce, we learn of lives ruined by devastating loss. We start to connect emotionally with them, we grow to love them, feel with them, and experience life as they see it. Sometimes they are bursting with happiness, whilst at other times the sadness and the rawness of their grief is palpable. We see them going about their daily lives in a time when peace of mind was a forgotten commodity. When in reality, they were just waiting and praying for it all to be over.
The story evolves beautifully, with an almost cinematic quality which is quite outstanding. I felt like I was actually in the novel, experiencing both the highs and the lows and of course, completely wrung out emotionally, by the ending of the story.
There is so much I could say which would hint at the eventual outcome, but that would be to do both the author and the story a complete disservice, as this is one of those books which should be read without any preconceptions of where it will end.
All I can say, is that The Silent Hours is a stunningly good debut novel and truly deserves all the accolades which, I know, are going to come its way.
My thanks to Alison at Atlantic Books /Corvus for my review copy of this book.