Thursday, November 20, 2008

186 - The Hour I First Believed; Wally Lamb

I could not wait for The Hour I First Believed to be released on November 11th. My Amazon copy arrived on Wednesday 11-12-08, and I immediately began to read, and read, and read. This book was 752 pages, and for me (8) days of reading.

I have been a huge Wally Lamb fan after reading: She's Come Undone, and I Know This Much Is True. This new book comes after a 10 year dry spell. One of Lamb's talents has always been the ability to write so beautifully about damaged people. This new novel is no exception.

Caelum Quirk is a forty-seven-year-old high school teacher, married for the third time. His younger wife, Maureen, is a school nurse at the same school-- Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. In April 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke, but Maureen stays behind. She finds herself in the school library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously she survives, but at a cost -- she is unable to recover from the trauma. Caelum and Maureen flee Colorado and return to an illusion of safety at the Quirk family farm in Three Rivers. But the effects of chaos are not so easily forgotten, and further tragedy ensues.

The Columbine portion of this story reminded me of Jodi Picoult's : Nineteen Minutes, however, Lamb, chose to use the actual names of the shooters and the victims in this story. This novel, is not just a story about Columbine, although the aftermaths of the shooting follow Maureen and Caelum throughout the story. This novel is about so much more. In fact, within this book are stories which span five generations. Caelum uncovers secrets of his past, and that of his ancestors after finding old diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family's house. Piece by piece, he reconstructs the lives of those who came before him, and along the way as secrets emerge, he is better able to understand his own troubled past.

It is evident that this book was painstakinly researched, and brilliantly written. I really liked this book, but I felt that the book dragged in parts. It is almost like there was way too much going on in this book, and in my opinion, the book might have benefited from a little more editing.

I did come across this fabulous interview with Wally Lamb about the book, but BEWARE it does contain spoilers, but for those of you who have read the book, it explains so much.

RATING - 4/5 - COMPLETED - 11/20/08


  1. Wally Lamb does like to write big books, doesn't he? I am looking forward to reading this one eventually. It sounds good, despite the faults you mention. Thanks for the great review.

  2. I don't want to discourage anyone; this is certainly worth reading. He really seems to understand women.

  3. I just finished the book and posted my review...and you're right, the book lagged in parts, especially with regard to some of the events of the past...but I agree that it's still a must read.


Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thanks again for visiting.