Friday, October 30, 2009

The Lost Hours by Karen White

The Lost Hours by Karen White is quite the change of pace from my recent seasonal YA and middle-grade reading. But actually a very nice change of pace. I needed something different and my October book club fit the bill.

I've seen several of White's books reviewed on various blogs and they always seem to appeal to me when I read about them. I was excited to have the opportunity to finally read one.

White introduces the reader to Piper Mills, an accomplished competitive equestrian who is still recovering from a tragic fall six years earlier. She lost her parents in a car accident when she was six years old and was raised by her grandparents. Early in the book, her grandparents both pass away leaving her with her grandmother's angel charm necklace and a key to something unknown. She finds several things in her grandparents' house that lead her to wonder who her grandmother really was and what her story was. Piper follows a trail of clues to her grandmother's childhood friend Lillian, now an elderly woman with grandchildren and great-grandchildren of her own. Disguised as a geneologist looking into "someone's" family, she tries to delve into the past and figure out what could have torn these two woman apart and how all of that relates to the grandmother she knew and grew up with.

This book is told from three perspectives: Piper's, Lillian's, and Lillian's granddaughter Helen. It also goes back and forth between present day and what happened in the late 1930's between the two women. The past is told by using old scrapbook entries as the storytelling mechanism so it is never difficult to follow where you are or who is speaking at the time.

This book is very much about family relationships and "broken" people. I think just about ever character in this book has had something tragic happen to them in one way or another and they are still trying to heal and get to a better place mentally. Though, the book itself is not all together depressing. The thing I found most interesting is the backdrop of the late 1930's in Savannah, Georgia and the issues of race and segregation that were apparent. While I definitely wouldn't categorize this book as historical fiction, there are definitely elements here that would fit.

The pace of this book is quite slow, you have to have the expectation of that going in or you may lose patience. The prose is very lyrical and descriptive. So much so, that it's annoying is some spots (at least to me), but again, a nice change of pace from my current spooky reading. Flowers and gardening are a theme throughout the book as is the idea that women are the storytellers in life and we should and must pass down their stories to their daughters.

I'm not sure I've done a good job of making this book sound appealing. If you like lyrical stories about women and familial relationships, this is definitely the book for you! My book club seemed to like it overall, though it was quite slow for most people.

Other reviews:
J. Kaye's Book Blog, Bloggin' 'bout Books, Girls Just Reading, The Tome Traveller

Source disclosure: I purchased this book.

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