What they say:
An epic, sweeping tale set in wartime France, The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:
Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;
Sebastien, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;
Tristan, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.
Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss.
What we say – reviewed by Charlotte Foreman:
What. A. Book.
Historical is not my genre of choice and, if truth be told, it took me a while to really get into The Silent Hours. But I liked the characters and the book kept calling to me every time I put it down so I wanted to persevere. Maybe it was down to Cesca Major’s obvious writing talent or the powerful subject matter? I’m not sure, but somehow I knew that once things clicked into place this would be a story I’d find hard to let go.
With the different POVs – a boy, a young man in the first flushes of love, an emotionally damaged woman and a series of letters – I initially found it difficult to figure out where the story was going. The characters are all highly readable though and I became more in-tune and invested in them as the book went on, learning their thoughts and experiences of the war.
As the story twists and turns around settings that are at times idyllic and brutal at others, connections are made without the reader realising what is happening. The ease at which the writing flows astounded me, especially when comprehension dawned and came crashing in like a tidal wave. There are many parts to the story, all coming together at various points in order to entwine the characters in some subtle way or another and in a manner only a truly gifted writer can achieve.
As the book neared it’s close, every person in my house was shushed, the TV volume reduced to almost mute and I read the conclusion with a mixed of horror and morbid fascination. I cried, sat stunned and have been unable to write this review for almost a month, even though I have thought about the story on an almost daily basis.
This is a book that will burrow deep into your mind and emotions; the savage, senseless nature of the story is beautifully executed in such a gentle way, the power behind it all creeps up and hits your full force. I still haven’t fully recovered yet and I know this book will stay with me for a long time to come.