Book Review: The Silent Hours by Cesca Major

The Silent Hours

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major
Release Date: 4th June 2014
Publisher: Corvus
Buy: PaperbackKindle
Rating:
5 star

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An epic, sweeping tale of love and loss inspired by heartrending true events in the Unoccupied Zone of 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;

Sebastian, 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.

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The Silent Hours tells the story of three lead characters; Adeline, Sebastian and Tristan. Whilst they are three very different people their lives are all intertwined by one thing – the horror of war.
Adeline finds herself living in a convent in south west France during the early 1950s after traumatic events from her past have affected her in ways in which she could never have imagined. Adeline has become mute and cannot find it within herself to form words, so we hear her parts of the story through her thoughts and the memories that she experiences from the past which go on to piece together exactly what happened to her…
Sebastian is a Jewish banker who lives in France and his part of the story recounts him falling in love with a lady that keeps catching his eye who wears an olive coat…a young woman named Isabelle. Whilst Sebastian is persecuted for being Jewish, Isabelle faces horrors of her own as we learn of her brother, Paul’s, struggle as he is out fighting the war. The siblings regularly write letters to one another, explaining their innermost thoughts, feelings and concerns.
Then we have Tristan. A nine year old boy who is forced to flee his home in Paris along with his brothers, sister and parents. His whole life is uprooted as he tries to settle in to the small French village that he must now call home.

I am sat here really struggling to put down in words how I feel about The Silent Hours, because it really was something special and I so badly want to do it justice.
It was one of those novels that I’d been hearing lots of good things about, there seemed to be a huge buzz surrounding it and as with any novel that comes highly recommended, I really hoped that it lived up to my expectations. However, it completely blew my expectations out of the water because I can safely say that The Silent Hours is probably one of the best books I have read. Ever.

There seem to be many novels set during wartime doing the rounds at the moment, but this one really stands out because everything about it is quite simply RIGHT. The settings, the characters, the format that the novel is written in (having viewpoints from various characters, interspersed with letters sent from one character to another worked so well) and the way in which these characters are linked is brilliant. As you progress through the novel their connections start to become clearer, apart from Tristan – who I thought was just an added character there to give us an understanding of what the war was like from a nine year olds perspective. However, as with other areas of the story things didn’t turn out how I expected and it’s extremely satisfying when everything comes together.
I loved reading from Tristan’s viewpoint and how Cesca managed to capture the thoughts, feelings and concerns of a nine year old boy during this turbulent time is astounding. She gave Tristan a strong and believable voice and it was fascinating to read his side of the story.
I also really enjoyed the romantic aspect of the story. The blossoming relationship between Sebastian and Isabelle will build up your heart and then break it down again into a million pieces. I loved the way that these two characters found one another and how they would arrange their meetings (for example they would never formally arrange to meet; Isabelle would say that she’d be at the library on a certain date at a certain time and as if by coincidence Sebastian would also be there…) The little quirks that they shared really built them up as a strong fictional couple in my eyes and I desperately wanted everything to be ok for them both.
I was desperate to find out what had happened to Adeline to leave her in the state that she is in when we first meet her. My heart was breaking for her and at the same time I couldn’t stop reading in an attempt to fit together pieces of the puzzle. Cesca brings everything to a conclusion in such a satisfying and believable way which will still leave you shocked and almost certainly in tears.

The fact that this is Cesca’s debut novel blows my mind. It’s so accomplished, well written and perfectly formed. The way in which it’s written allows you to just take in the story as it happens and gives you time to process what is going on.
Cesca must have put a huge amount of research into The Silent Hours, as it’s actually a fictionalized account of an event which really happened. It is one of those stories that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page and you’ll be thinking about it for a long time to come.
I am confident that this is going to be the start of a hugely successful writing career for Cesca. She has achieved so much with The Silent Hours and must be applauded for the way in which she has woven fact, fiction, heartbreak, horror and romance. Her writing is simply stunning and I can’t wait to read more…
Beautiful, haunting, stunning and engrossing – I could throw all the adjectives in the dictionary at this one and I don’t think I could do it justice. The best piece of advice I could give would be to just read it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean…

A huge thank you to publishers Corvus for sending me a copy of The Silent Hours to read and review.

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Cesca MajorMy debut novel THE SILENT HOURS is out in June 2015 with Corvus Books. It is a ‘Book Club’ read set in France during WWII and based on a true event.

I love chatting to other book lovers and writers. I vlog writing tips to help other writers over at Writers and Artists. See the first series here: https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/w…

I sporadically review and write features for the women’s fiction website Novelicious and The Epoch Times. I’m represented by Clare Wallace at the Darley Anderson Agency (http://www.darleyanderson.com).

Cesca Major | Website | Twitter | Goodreads |

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