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|Length: 492 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Praise for The Glittering Hour:
* A "Must-Read" for PopSugar! *
* A December Recommend from Book Riot! *
"... a riveting historical epic about the choices that haunt us." - Refinery29
"An absorbing tale of love, loss, and the ties that bind... A sweeping historical saga that captures the desires and dilemmas of the heart." ― Booklist
"The Glittering Hour is an exceptional novel about choosing how to live amid powerful grief and true love. For readers looking for a tremendously entertaining, emotionally charged story, look no further. The Glittering Hour is just the ticket." ― BookPage
"This sweeping history is sure to be a tearjerker." ― Publishers Weekly
"This is a deceptively bittersweet tale, a story of loss and discovery covered in flashes of
riches and freedom that obscure its melancholy core. ...a heartbreaking but ultimately positive tone that will hit many emotions. And while it is a love story in Selina’s past that we follow and mourn, it’s the relationship between Alice and her parents that takes center stage at the end." ― Historical Novel Society
"Vivid and heartbreaking." - Prima (UK)
"Prepare to be swept away on an all-encompassing journey of love, loss and discovery." - Woman & Home (UK)
"I absolutely adored this sweeping novel" - Good Housekeeping (UK)
"... a stunning novel of love, loss and living life to the full. Beautifully written with attention detail in plot and character, this book went straight to my heart, and took me through an array of emotions. I found this evocative of the period, mesmerising in its story and an absolutely fabulous read that I didn’t want to end. A captivating and compelling read that I highly recommend." - Bookliterati.com (UK)
“An enchanting, evocative read.” – The Sun (UK)
“Emotionally fraught, evocative and redemptive, The Glittering Hour has been well worth the wait. What a superb novel - Iona Grey really is back with aplomb.” – Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid’s Room
Praise for Letters to the Lost:
“A wonderful story.” ―Rosamunde Pilcher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Shell Seekers
“Grey's engaging, poignant, and romantic debut treats readers to an absorbing story within a story.” ―Library Journal, *Starred Review*
“A captivating tale of love and love lost.” ―Booklist
“Letters to the Lost pulsates with life, offering a vibrant love story that transcends time and the heartbreak of war. Settle in somewhere comfortable; you are in for an enthralling read.” ―Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker
“[A] powerful debut, one of those rare books that grabs you from the first page and doesn't let go. It's a heart-wrenching, smile-through-the-tears story of love lost and refound - you won't be able to put it down!” ―Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of The English Wife and The Ashford Affair--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B07P7BYDX6
- Publisher : Thomas Dunne Books (December 10, 2019)
- Publication date : December 10, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 1529 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 492 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1471140709
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #87,942 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This is the author's second novel and before even finishing this, I got my hands on a copy of that one, because I really love this book a lot!! There's tension, drama and pacing that kept me up late into the night (quietly sobbing into my pillow - so have the tissues ready!). I loved this from start to finish. The characters are all fully realized and authentic. There are definitely some scenes that are reminiscent of Downton Abbey (though this feels even more deeply researched in some places). I really loved this!!!
When I realized that Selina and Lawrence were in a too good to be true relationship, especially being from different stations in life, I felt there would be a child involved. I didn't want to put the book down!
Would like to have read a bit more about Lawrence and Alice after Selina's death. Also to have read about Rupert's thoughts, emotions when Lawrence came back into the picture. All in all, no complaints.
Top reviews from other countries
Iona Grey has broken my heart all over again.
I know my words will never, in a million years, do this book the justice it deserves. You need to read it for yourself to understand. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I absolutely adored Iona Grey's previous novel, Letters To The Lost. I talk about it, a lot! I have been patiently waiting (for four years) for her next book and I can tell you that The Glittering Hour has most certainly been worth the wait, although I truly hope I won't have to wait another four years for another book by this amazing author.
I practically squealed with excitement when the publisher sent me an invite to view The Glittering Hour on Netgalley, but unfortunately due to previous commitments I was unable to dive in immediately, although resisting it was hard work I can tell you! Anyway, it didn't download to my Paperwhite, for some reason, and by the time I had realised it had already been archived, but never mind because I bought it anyway and I have the paperback on pre-order. I will be adding the audible narration also.
In 1925 Selina Lennox is well known as one of the 'Bright Young Things'. Her life consists of enjoying parties with her friends, drinking and sometimes slightly risky activities which often result in their pictures appearing in the newspapers and fashionable magazines. She knows she will be expected to settle down one day and she is determined to enjoy her youth in the meantime. Then the untimely death of a cat brings her face to face with Lawrence Weston and her life changes forever.
Lawrence is a struggling artist with a passion for photography and is the most endearing of characters. I pictured him as extremely good looking. Tall, dark and handsome, in a bit of a rough and ready kind of a way. I totally understood how Selina fell for him so easily, but I do believe, looks aside, that everyone has a soul mate and these two are most definitely each other's. They reminded me so much of my husband and I except I cannot begin to imagine how I would ever give that up, especially to satisfy the expectations of family and society as a whole. Having said that, I could, sort of, understand Selina's fears. Not so much her fear of what others might think, but her fear of loving so deeply and of being so emotionally overwhelmed. My heart broke for her, but especially for Lawrence. This story is just so full of raw emotion and I know it will be another one which will stay with me for a very long time to come.
When we meet Alice, Selina's daughter, almost a decade later she is residing with her Grandparents as her parents are away on a business trip. Alice is 9 years old and the love between her and her mother is palpable. They keep in touch via letter, but obviously miss each other dearly and my heart went out to them both. Even more so as the story progresses and we learn that not all is as it seems. When I thought this story could not be any more heart-breaking it shattered my heart all over again as the chapters revealed the truth behind Selina's absence. I sobbed so much I could barely read the words. It's just so sad, but also hopeful in the end. I'd love to hear about how life pans out for these lovely characters after the closing chapter of this book. I have to hope that they find happiness and peace.
I loved Iona Grey's debut novel, Letters to the Lost, a hard act to follow up, but which Grey does here with aplomb. As with her previous novel, this is an unabashedly romantic and tender story, which in lesser hands could easily have come across as mawkish, but which Grey tells with effortless charm and genuine heart.
At its heart this is a love story, and a beautifully told one at that, however, there were plenty of other aspects of this book that I really liked. The relationship between Selina and Alice for instance is extremely touching, and though this is mostly captured through letters, one gets a real sense of the bond between mother and daughter. Furthermore, I enjoyed the chapters that followed Alice as she became better acquainted with Blackwood and its staff, particularly the gardener and maid Polly. Grey depicts Blackwood Park so well that it is almost like another character in the story, changing through the seasons. I also appreciated the different character points of view we were afforded, and thought it helped to give more insight into some of the characters, especially some of the more distant and perhaps less likeable ones, Alice's grandmother and aunt for example, and later Rupert.
The 1920s is a particularly fascinating period of time, an era of change and complex mixture of emotions, with the nation still mourning the losses of WW1. I thought Grey did a particularly good job of her portrayal of The Bright Young Things, both through Selina and her friend Flick. Whilst outwardly they appear every inch the glamorous and daring society girls, we are afforded glimpses into the vulnerability and fragility underneath. As Selina herself appreciates in the novel, her approach to life is perhaps along the lines of 'dance over the cracks, so you don't fall in.' In the aftermath of such overwhelming death and grief, the youth of the age yearn for life and exuberance, for the 'glittering' cocktail hour. I think this also helps to better understand some of Selina's decisions later in the novel, which though seem rather sudden and drastic, actually do make sense in the context of the events that unfold, and her previous experience of grief in losing her brother. Faced with grief again, I could appreciate why she perhaps handled it so badly, and why it led her to the decision it did.
Some aspects of the story are quite easy to guess from early on, I don't think Grey even tries to hide certain things from the reader; whilst others start to become apparent a little later. The second half of the book takes perhaps a little bit of an unexpected twist, though there are signs laid out that all may not be quite as it seems. I would say, be warned, parts of this novel really do tug at the heart strings.
Yet another aspect of this book to enjoy is Grey's way with words and ability to conjure a scene vividly to life, such that this really is a book one can completely immerse oneself in. With characters that stay with you long after the last page is turned, Grey has once again depicted a heart-rending love story.
I have written and deleted the start of this review mores times than I care to remember. Please, someone, HELP ME! I am completely and utterly speechless, it has been days since I finished The Glittering Hour for the SECOND time in two days, seriously. I was so distraught at being forced to say goodbye that I couldn’t face even looking at another book, let alone reading another one. So I did the only thing that made any sense, I picked it up again and went back to the story again.
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How am I supposed to put into words how this story quite literally stole my heart, smashed it into a billion pieces and rebuilt it all in one day? How I cried so many tears of sadness and happiness that my eyes were swollen for three days straight? When Iona writes a book she uses witchcraft, I am sure of it, she captures your heart and it is simply impossible to just put her books down, for even a second! The Glittering Hour is of course no different, once you start, from that very first page, you are irrevocably hers until she has finished with you.
The Glittering hour is breathtakingly beautiful, but even that description doesn’t give it the justice it truly deserves.
Selina Lennox and her friends, Flick and Theo, are part of a group of young people from very well to do families, called The Bright Young Things. Named by the press, who follow them around photographing them and putting them on the front pages, with stories of their glitz and glamour, leaving many looking down their noses at their raucous behaviour . They are the 1920s party animals, where glitzy drinks and parties are aplenty.
Fast forward to the 1930s and Selina is married with a child, Alice, who is nine years old. Alice finds herself back in her mothers childhood home, Beechcroft, a cold and unwelcoming building, with her grandparents and Polly, her mothers maid from when she herself was a child. The reason for this is Selina and her husband, Rupert who seems incredibly cold and distant as a husband and father, are in the far East on business and Selina didn’t want Alice to be bored and lonely whilst she did her duties as wife on their trip. But to stop Alice becoming bored or at all lonely, with the help of dear Polly, Selina sends Alice letters as often as she can which sends her on a treasure hunt throughout the stately home and grounds. Every clue tells a new part of Selina’s story and how Alice came to be, with keepsakes from Selina’s past for Alice to cherish.
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After each letter she receives we go back to the 1920s and live Selina’s life with her. One night with all The Bright Young things in tow, Selina, Flick, Theo and Harry take part in a huge treasure hunt of their own. Everyone taking part must find clues around the city which will lead them to the next clue, it is all very competitive. So much so that when Harry hits a cat whilst racing through the streets, and Selina cannot bare to leave it on the side of the road… Harry races off leaving her alone, because the police are close by and he doesn’t want to be caught. Selina is alone is the dark with an injured kitten, she has absolutely no clue as to what she should do, when suddenly a door opens and a man asks her if she is okay. The police lights are getting closer and Selina is panicking, the man steps back and indicates she should enter. She does so quickly, regretting her actions almost immediately, she is a young intoxicated girl, walking straight into in a strangers house. anything could happen! But luckily for Selina she has met Lawrence, a scruffy, unkempt artist, who is kind and completely wonderful. He knows exactly who she is from the papers but still offers to help her dispose of the cat’s body. But Selina doesn’t want to leave him to do it, and instead asks for a shovel. Lawrence decides there is no way he will let her do this alone and takes her to a quiet garden where they name and bury the cat together. Lawrence finds Selina beautiful and wishes he had his camera with him so he could take a picture of her, but knows he wouldn’t have been brave enough to ask for permission. After burying the cat and saying a few words they share a moment and the air between them is electric, but they are both from completely different worlds and know that it could never go any further. But there is a moment where something almost happens, only for them to be interrupted by car lights and shouts of her name from her friends.
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As they continue to live their lives in their very different circles, they each desperately hope to find each other again, always looking out for one another wherever they go. Until one night, not by chance, they should meet again and this time they take the risk and run off with one another from the party. You see, when it comes to real, completely unstoppable love, nothing will stand in its way.
The more we read on, the more we learn of Selina and Lawrence’s love story. All told of course through the letters and keepsakes that Alice finds along the way on her treasure hunt. Throughout the story we also meet Rupert, who is Selina’s brothers best friend. Her brother died during the war and Rupert has always stayed in touch, it is very clear he does not approve of The Bright Young Things and their free-spirited way of life. He is very straight-laced and drips with disapproval at most things Selina does.
I want so much, to talk more about the story, tell you so many more details, but at this point it is impossible to continue without giving away the hugest of spoilers. In fact I am amazed I managed to say as much as I did, because even getting close to the story runs the risk of ruining it all. The entire story, the duel time frame especially plays a huge part, that all builds up to tell you the most incredible heartbreaking yet joyus story.
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It is impossible to not fall in love with Selina as a main character, she is free-spirited and full of life, she lives life to the absolute fullest and refuses to be boring. Something her brother Howard, before he died, instilled in her. Selina we learn, growing up was a wonderful menace, climbing trees, scaring off the hired nannies and causing chaos wherever she went. It is this that makes her instantly likable, she hasn’t changed much as adult, she is still a rebel and a kindhearted beautiful one at that. Much to the disappointment of her mother and sister who are actively encouraging her to become more proper and marry well.
Lawrence is utter perfection, he is the complete opposite of who Selina is expected to marry a man of her standing. He knows he shouldn’t allow himself to fall in love with Selina, but sometimes things in life are inevitable and completely unstoppable. Both of which apply to Selina and Lawrence’s love.He has absolutely no money, in fact he owes rent money. He doesn’t make much money as an artist and cannot offer her the lifestyle she is accustomed too, and yet he was so much more suited to her than anyone else. He was kind, thoughtful and treated Selina like she was the only woman in the world. I adored him and was rooting for him from the beginning.
Also I cannot write this without mentioning Polly, I adored Polly and how she helped Selina throughout the story. She was helping hide each clue for Selina, so that she could send Alice on her hunt. It is only as you delve deeper into the story, that you see how close Selina and Polly’s relationship is. Polly did things that she shouldn’t have done as an employee of Selina’s mother, but what you would absolutely expect from a friend. Their relationship was a wonderful part of the story that made you realise just how kind they were and you see how much their friendship meant to one another.
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Selina and Lawrence’s relationship is intense and addictive, and it is impossible to not become completely addicted to it yourself. How can anyone resist a love story that is completely forbidden? A rich upper class girl falling in love with a poor, scruffy artist. Add on top of that, a young girl who is away from her beloved mother and cold distant father, but chasing a treasure hunt in order to learn all about her mother’s story and how she, herself, came into this world and you have yourself one hell of an addictive story on your hands.
I have waited for what seems a lifetime for The Glittering Hour, after loving Letters to the Lost so much I was worried it maybe wouldn’t live up to expectations, that maybe Iona would never be able to top such perfection. But how wrong I was, The Glittering Hour was EVERYTHING and MORE. More than I could have ever hoped and prayed for. It has well and truly surpassed all my expectations and smashed them well and truly out the park. It stole my breath and my heart, forever, I will never get them back, I don’t even want them back it is Selina’s now, until the end of time.
When it comes to historical fiction I have had a favourite author, who no one in the world could even get close to, after this I have to give that crown to my new Queen, Iona Grey. If you know me or follow my blog or any of my social media, you will know exactly who I am talking about, she wrote my most favourite book of all time, Lady of Hay. Well that has been demoted to second place for the first time, EVER. The Glittering Hour has stolen that spot and run too far away to ever be caught up. I love it, I love it beyond words if that is at all possible.
This review will never be able to give it the justice it so rightly deserves. There are simply is not enough words or even the right words to express to you how stunning this book is.
The Glittering Hour is breathtakingly beautiful, stunning and an epic love story that will stay with you forever. Iona is an extremely talented story-teller, who can truly make you feel as though you are living within the pages. Compelling and utterly impossible to put down.
Out May 30th and I urge you all to get a copy, with a vast amount of tissues if you have any sense.