"…I had remembered the words my grandmother had told me long ago that I thought I’d forgotten. Every woman should have a daughter to tell her stories to. Otherwise, the lessons learned are as useless as spare buttons from a discarded shirt. And all that is left is a fading name and the shape of a nose or the color of hair. The men who write the history books will tell you the stories of battles and conquests. But the women will tell you the stories of people’s hearts." (from The Lost Hours, page 24)
After reading and enjoying Karen White’s The House on Tradd Street last year (my review is here in case you missed it), I was delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Lost Hours. I really enjoy Southern fiction with strong female characters, and White does not disappoint.
The Lost Hours tells the story of Piper Mills, a champion equestrian whose Olympic dreams were shattered with a near-fatal fall from her horse during an event. She’d suffered a lot of heartache in her life already, beginning with the death of her parents when she was six. She grew up with her grandparents, and the book opens right after her grandfather’s funeral. Piper’s grandmother, with whom she's never had a close relationship, is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s. The family attorney presents Piper with some unopened letters her grandmother sent to her estranged childhood friend, along with a key to a secret attic room. To learn more about her grandmother’s past, she turns to her grandmother’s childhood friend, Lillian, who is reluctant to discuss the events that caused their falling out. She meets Lillian’s grieving grandson, Tucker, his daughters, and his blind sister, Helen, who sees more than people think she does and quickly became my favorite character in the book.
In The Lost Hours, White presents some complex, well-rounded characters, and she doesn’t shy away from their faults. They each have obstacles they must overcome, events that changed their lives for better or worse, and they must work through these challenges and peel away the layers of the past so they can heal and move forward. White’s writing is wonderful, and she flawlessly shifts between Piper’s first person narrative and the third person narrative that gives you a glimpse of the other characters' thoughts and emotions. I think this structure works best for this story, allowing you to see things Piper’s way while giving you the opportunity to see where her perception is lacking. The story of the relationship between Piper’s grandmother and Lillian and the secrets they carried with them over decades lends a bit of suspense to the story, and White’s descriptions of horses and gardening really pull you into the scene. This is a must-read for lovers of Southern fiction, as well as those who enjoy well-written stories about family secrets and the bonds between women.
The Lost Hours also was reviewed by:
The Friendly Book Nook
Bookfoolery and Babble
Review From Here
The Tome Traveller's Weblog
Cafe of Dreams
S. Krishna's Books
Confessions of a Bibliophile
Peeking Between the Pages
If you've also reviewed it, let me know in the comments, and I'll add your link!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Lost Hours from the publisher for review purposes.