Review: The Silent Hours by Cesca Major

The Blurb

A story of love and loss inspired by heartrending true events in the Unoccupied Zone of wartime France.

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;

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.

The Review

Having followed Cesca Major on Twitter the buzz she built around her novel The Silent Hours compelled me to read it. Talking to other reviewers furthered this desire as they told me just how good the book was – unputdownable, can be read in one sitting, will keep you up all night – these were just a few of the comments. The amount of five star ratings on Goodreads assured me that this was a good book. It was at this moment that I made the conscious decision not to rush read The Silent Hours. I decided to pace myself and for someone who can generally finish a 400 page book in a day it was shocking just how long I took to read The Silent Hours. One whole week. I am awfully glad I made the decision to do this.

The Silent Hours is about a small village that is seemingly unaffected by World War Two. Not completely unaffected; the boys from the village have gone to fight against the Nazis and food has been rationed, however, the town hasn’t yet been occupied and in a sense life goes on as usual there. It is a story of survival told from five different perspectives; each one as compelling as the others and seamlessly intertwined.

What makes The Silent Hours so special is that Cesca Major has taken a true and harrowing story and woven a tale that batters your heart. The verisimilitude in the detail makes you feel like you are there. I felt like I was a character in the novel – through the magical moments it was lovely but through the harrowing parts I felt the panic and the drama as if it was me living it.

Let me just say, The Silent Hours is beautiful. It is a beautiful heart-wrenching multi-perspective story and it is told in the most gorgeous way. It isn’t the most fast paced story but I think it needed to have a much more languid development. Some stories of war can get bogged down with action and make it difficult to connect with the characters but at the forefront of The Silent Hours are the characters and the lives they live.

The Silent Hours is a triumph of a novel and one that was a heartbreaking delight to read.

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major is available now.

Follow Cesca Major (@CescaWrites) on Twitter.

Thank you to Corvus Books for sending me a review copy of The Silent Hours.

The Silent Hours

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