The Hour I First Believed

The Hour I First Believed

Paperback

By (author) Wally Lamb

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  • Publisher: Harper
  • Format: Paperback | 640 pages
  • Dimensions: 124mm x 194mm x 38mm | 422g
  • Publication date: 2 April 2009
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0007290802
  • ISBN 13: 9780007290802
  • Sales rank: 30,130

Product description

From the author of the international number one bestseller I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE comes a magnificent novel of a life turned upside-down by tragedy - and the search for a way to carry on in the aftermath. Caelum Quirk is a middle-aged schoolteacher. Students at Columbine High School generally respect him and turn to his wife Maureen, the school nurse, when in trouble. When he has to return to his home town for the funeral of his beloved aunt, Maureen promises to join him the next day - but she goes to work that morning, and that's when the shootings happen. She hides in a cupboard, unable to see what's happening, but listening to the students being taunted, then killed. Life can never be the same again. In the face of Maureen's trauma, Caelum searches for meaning, delving into his own family history and discovering that nothing was as he's always been told. As the couple inch towards recovery and suffer setbacks, the stories of Caelum's redoubtable ancestors illuminate how he came to be the man he is, and how he and Maureen might live in the future with freedom and dignity. With no easy answers, Caelum gradually comes to an understanding of who he really is and what he can believe in.

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Author information

Wally Lamb's first novel, 'She's Come Undone', won rave reviews when it was published in 1992. It was a finalist in the 'Los Angeles Times' First Novel Award, a Top Ten book for 'People' magazine and a Notable Book for the 'New York Times'. Both 'She's Come Undone' and 'I Know This Much Is True' have been chosen for Oprah's Book Club. Wally Lamb now teaches writing at the University of Connecticut. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and their three sons.

Review quote

Praise for THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED 'It's part picaresque, part Russian novel, part mystery...ambitious...Caelum is an unusual, provocative character, neither a hero nor an antihero but a regular guy experiencing both the tragic and the absurd. His tone is by turns funny, irritating, depressive and sentimental-which is to say, recognizably human' New York Times 'A fine and humane novel which tries to make sense of America's turbulent times' Daily Mail 'Captivating...he entrances' Financial Times 'Those who love a good plot will not be disappointed...He avoids any maudlin sentiment and constantly surprises. He delivers on his message of redemption...it is genuinely moving.' Independent 'Thoughtful, informative' Time Out Praise for I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE 'A modern Greek tragedy...[Lamb's] success is to present this with terrific readability, tenderness, optimism and, most surprisingly, wit... The hallmark of the book is fine writing and a commendable depth of characterisation' The Times 'Wally Lamb's achievement is to force you to feel Dominick's pain... the events in Dominick's everyday nightmare are presented with a sneaky simplicity which generates emotional tension' Daily Telegraph 'A triumph of simple beauty' Time 'I Know This Much Is True never grapples with anything less than life's biggest questions... a modern-day Dostoyevsky' New York Times 'Every now and then a book comes along that sets new standards for writers and readers alike. Wally Lamb's latest novel is stunning - and even that might be an understatement' Associated Press

Editorial reviews

A glacially paced novel of modern manners and mayhem, its chief elements being middle-aged angst, mass murder and pizza.Like Jack Torrance of Stephen King's The Shining, Caelum Quirk is a man of ambition who moved to Colorado to find his fortune and wound up teaching creative writing to the unwilling. At the beginning of the book, we learn that Caelum's wife, Maureen, has been engaging in certain extracurricular activities. While Caelum does not take an ax to the offending parties, he is consigned to the hell of anger-management courses all the same. For her part, Maureen discovers horror when violence erupts at the school where she works - namely, Columbine High, in the tidy Denver suburb of Littleton. Caelum, a teacher, is absent, attending to a sick aunt across the country. While doing so, and over the course of much time and much talk among many characters, Maureen reckons with having become unhinged while Caelum discovers ominous clippings in the family archive. Lamb (I Know This Much Is True, 1998, etc.) writes at considerable leisure about all this; indeed, the gunfire starts 150 pages into the narrative. Meanwhile and after, there is much pondering. Lamb knows how to put together a good, meaning-charged sentence ("I've stalked the monster during long, meditative runs on country roads, at the bottoms of wine and scotch bottles, and over the Internet, that labyrinth inside the labyrinth"), but there are plenty of clunkers, too. Moreover, the takeaway point isn't quite clear: Lamb seems to be suggesting that inside every one of us, or at least every family, there's a Dylan Klebold screaming to get out and plenty of skeletons for too few closets.A clearer focus and a forgone subplot or two would have helped. Of interest, however, as an entry in the body of literature that has emerged from real tragedy. (Kirkus Reviews)