Book Review: The Silent Hours by Cesca Major

So book number 29 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is The Silent Hours by Cesca Major.

‘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;

Tristin, 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.’ (Thanks to Amazon)

I’ve got to be honest – I found this book very difficult to get into.  I would read a chapter and then walk away for a while before picking the novel up again.  Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character.  We have Adeline, Isabelle, Paul, Tristin and Sebastian.  All of these characters are so different, yet inextricably linked. This story is set in France during World War Two, at the time when the Nazi’s were advancing, eventually taking over France.  The novel highlights the growing tensions around the Jews, their mistreatment by their neighbours and friends, and the effects the war has on those who remain in their homes.

Whilst I struggled initially to get into this novel, once I did I could not put it down.  As you are aware by now, I love a historical novel and particularly one set during World War Two.  I highly recommend starting (and sticking with) this novel.  The premise of the novel, which does not become fully clear until the end, is loosely based on a true event during the war in France.  As I was not aware of this particular event in French history, I was not expecting the twists and turns that this novel very subtly takes to reach its conclusion.  It’s not a novel to read if you’re looking for something light – it deals with some heavy and traumatic historical issues. However I cannot recommend it enough.  Cesca Major’s fictional characters bring to life a truly tragic and barbaric event in French history that we should all be aware of to ensure that such things never happen again.  The poignancy of this novel is so compelling; it draws you in as you become embroiled in these characters, feeling their love and their pain as they continue their own journeys through wartime France.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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