Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the wonderful novel by Iona Grey, The Glittering Hour.
1925. The war is over and a new generation is coming of age, keen to put the trauma of the previous one behind them. Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing whose life is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure; to parties and drinking and staying just the right side of scandal. Lawrence Weston is a struggling artist, desperate to escape the poverty of his upbringing and make something of himself.
When their worlds collide one summer night, neither can resist the thrill of the forbidden, the lure of a love affair that they know cannot possibly last.
But there is a dark side to pleasure and a price to be paid for breaking the rules. By the end of that summer everything has changed.
A decade later, nine year old Alice is staying at Blackwood Hall with her distant grandparents, piecing together clues from her mother’s letters to discover the secrets of the past, the truth about the present, and hope for the future.
Expertly crafted with a dual time setting The Glittering Hour firstly begins in early 1926, in the days soon after the Great War when the horrors of the past sit in the shadows and life is for living again. Then we move on ten years later and it is 1936, nine-year-old Alice is sent to stay with her cold and distant grandparents at Blackwood Park, the large country estate where her mother grew up.
Alice is missing her mother, Selina, desperately in the unwelcoming house. Her only comfort can found in the letters that her mother sends her. Through these letters a treasure hunt begins in which Selina tells Alice exactly where she comes from and so unfolds a story of love, passion and heartbreak.
This novel is a multi-faceted joy. It takes us back to a time in history where the world changed forever. The years after the First World War when loss was still raw and the ghosts of those who never came home are all around. A new age was dawning with the hedonistic lifestyle of the Bright Young Things rebelling against the suppression of the past.
I adored the treasure hunt theme flowing through. The anticipation of secrets being unearthed between mother and daughter. Selina and Alice have a wonderful relationship and Iona has written them perfectly. So much love, it is hard not to feel the pain of their separation.
Back in 1926, Lawrence, the struggling artist, is a wonderful expression of the time, his desire to create art through photography indicative of the changes occurring in the early 20th Century. He begins to capture moments and feelings. The now traditional method of processing printed images as they would magically appear, holding moments frozen in time. He and Selina are worlds apart in so many way and yet find comfort from the pain of the past together. How can their love survive in this world that is changing in so many ways but still held tight to the past?
Yet still nearly a decade later Alice is still feeling the ties and expectations of her time but finds allies in the old house with Polly and the gardener, the lovely Mr Patterson. But what secrets will she unearth as she follows her mother’s treasure hunt? What skeletons will be brought out into the open?
The Glittering Hour is a beautifully written, deeply moving piece of historical fiction. This is an absolutely stunning novel in so many ways. It is a story about love, holding tight to what’s dear and of living with the freedom to be true to ourselves.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and to the lovely people at Simon and Schuster for my review copy. This was a truly wonderful read. Pure escapism. 🙂
About the author
Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters.
You can follow her on Twitter at @iona_grey.