Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Lost Hours by Karen White

"…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:

Book Addiction
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
Stone SouP
Jenn's Bookshelf
Popin's Lair

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.


Blodeuedd said...

It sounds lovely, haven't read much Southern fiction :)

bermudaonion said...

I love Southern fiction too. I've have The House on Tradd Street and The Lost Hours on my wish list. Great review.

Missy B. said...

Oooh, I want to read this one!

Serena said...

What a great review. I'm glad you liked this one. I've seen others really enjoyed it as well. Darn, I should have hopped on the tour! But its on the wish list!

Cheryl said...

This is an excellent book. Karen is an amazing writer. I can't wait for the sequel to "The House on Tradd Street" to come out.


Literary Feline said...

Thank you for the great review, Anna. This does sound like a good one. I read The House on Tradd Street last year and enjoyed it as well.

Jeannie said...

"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."That is an awesome quote, Anna. This book sounds wonderful.

teabird said...

This sounds so powerful - I'm going to order it for our library now.

Darlene said...

Really nice review Anna. I just loved this book. I loved the characters, the story and how it was written. I'm anxious to get to some of her other novels.

Ti said...

I enjoy Southern Fiction too. It reminds me of times spent with my husband's grandmother who has since passed away. There's just something very charming about the South.

Karen White said...

Thank you, Anna, for such a glowing review---I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. And I wish I could summarize a book as well as you do! I'm on book tour now, and I have several media interviews and I hate it when they ask me to tell them what the book's about. It took me over 400 pages to tell the story--I can't summarize it! Maybe I'll bring along your review for a cheat sheet. (smile)

Sandy Nawrot said...

I laugh at Karen's comment about people asking what a book is about. People ask me about the book I'm currently reading all the time, and I can just never do it justice verbally. I do just fine in a written review, but otherwise I'm not very compelling! I read a review of this recently from another blogger, and I was mesmerized by the premise. I do really need to read this book!

Ladytink_534 said...

I adored The House on Tradd Street and I've been meaning to pick up something else by this author ever since. It may just be this one!

Anna said...

Blodeuedd: I don't read too much of it, but when I do, I always enjoy it.

Bermudaonion: I hope you get a chance to read them. They're great books.

Missy: Go for it! It's worth it.

Serena: You should have been part of the tour. But no worries, you can borrow my copy. :)

Cheryl: I agree with everything you said! I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Literary Feline: You have to read this one then!

Jeannie: Thanks! It's a great book, and I bet you'd love it.

teabird: That's great!

Dar: Thanks! I'm still catching up in my review reading; I saw yours and will read it soon.

Ti: I agree that it's charming. I stayed in Savannah on my way to Florida a couple of years ago, but I think I was on the outskirts because I didn't see what I'd hope to see.

Karen: Thanks so much! Feel free to use my review any way you'd like! ;) Thanks for writing such a great book and for stopping by my site.

Sandy: I sometimes have trouble putting my thoughts on the books I read into words. But I find that if I absolutely love the book, the words just pour out of me when I sit down to write. With some books, it's hard to say what it's about without giving too much away. That's a challenge.

Ladytink: You definitely should read this one. Let me know if you do!

Staci said...

I love Southern Fiction and your review just makes me want to read it that much more!!!

Unknown said...

Your review makes this book sound so great. I simply want to read this book.

Margay Leah Justice said...

This sounds like just my type of book - I love reading about relationships, especially familial ones, probably because it gives me insight into my own!

S. Krishna said...

I really enjoyed this book. Nice review!

Anna said...

Staci: Thanks! If you love Southern fiction, you should definitely give this one a go.

Barb: Thanks! I hope you get a chance to read it soon.

Margay: I bet you'd enjoy this one! Let me know if you read it.

S. Krishna: Thanks!