Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Hour I First Believed

Finally! After ten long, hopeful years, Wally Lamb releases another gem. I adored his first two books so much that I eagerly waited (and waited) for his next novel. It seemed it would never come. But now I can say it was worth the wait.

Thanks once again go to Joanna for delivering another fabulous birthday present with yet another signed first edition. Yay!

At around 723 pages, The Hour I First Believed took me about two months to read. I'm slow, but that certainly doesn't mean it wasn't a great read. Plus, I felt I had to savor it – who knows when Mr. Lamb will write another novel?! It's going to be hard to summarize all that happened without giving too much away, but a little teaser will be all you need to run out and snatch this one from the closest bookstore (I'd say library, but certain books I just know I'd rather keep in my collection).

Caelum Quirk is flawed. In so many ways and on so many levels. As the reader, it was very hard for me to even find him likable. On his third marriage, he seems to be failing once again as he and his wife Maureen, a school nurse, have already needed marriage counseling because of Maureen's affair. Starting over, they relocate to Colorado. When Caelum's Aunt Lolly, who practically raised him, falls ill, he must return to Three Rivers, CT to care for her. While he is there, Lolly dies and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold go on a shooting spree in the school where Caelum and his wife are employed. Unable to get a hold of Maureen, Caelum flies home and misses his aunt's funeral. Maureen survived the shootings by hiding in a cabinet praying for her life and scrawling a message to her husband in the chance that she did not survive.

With Maureen safe, but so mentally damaged, The Quirks flee Littleton and move back to Three Rivers to the family farm where Caelum grew up. While Maureen struggles with her own sanity and subsequent drug addiction, Caelum discovers diaries, letters and newspaper clippings from his family's past. He learns of the five generations of his ancestors, dating back to the Civil War. Some of the truths he uncovers are nearly unbearable, but as he continues to make new discoveries, he evolves into a better man than he ever was.

The cast of characters is too long to get into without giving away too much of the book. But each one lends a unique voice and a deeper understanding to who Caelum Quirk really is. By the end, I learned to respect and really like this man.

Now I wait patiently for the next great work...

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