The Hour I First Believed

The Hour I First Believed

A Novel

Book - 2008 | 1st ed.
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Wally Lamb's two previous novels, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, struck a chord with readers. They responded to the intensely introspective nature of the books, and to their lively narrative styles and biting humor. One critic called Wally Lamb a "modern-day Dostoyevsky," whose characters struggle not only with their respective pasts, but with a "mocking, sadistic God" in whom they don't believe but to whom they turn, nevertheless, in times of trouble (New York Times).

In his new novel, The Hour I First Believed, Lamb travels well beyond his earlier work and embodies in his fiction myth, psychology, family history stretching back many generations, and the questions of faith that lie at the heart of everyday life. The result is an extraordinary tour de force, at once a meditation on the human condition and an unflinching yet compassionate evocation of character.

When forty-seven-year-old high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke. But Maureen 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 put right, and further tragedy ensues.

While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of old diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family's house. The colorful and intriguing story they recount spans five generations of Quirk family ancestors, from the Civil War era to Caelum's own troubled childhood. Piece by piece, Caelum reconstructs the lives of the women and men whose legacy he bears. Unimaginable secrets emerge; long-buried fear, anger, guilt, and grief rise to the surface.

As Caelum grapples with unexpected and confounding revelations from the past, he also struggles to fashion a future out of the ashes of tragedy. His personal quest for meaning and faith becomes a mythic journey that is at the same time quintessentially contemporary--and American.

The Hour I First Believed is a profound and heart-rending work of fiction. Wally Lamb proves himself a virtuoso storyteller, assembling a variety of voices and an ensemble of characters rich enough to evoke all of humanity.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c2008.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780060393496
Branch Call Number: LAMB
Characteristics: 740 p.

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markd
Apr 22, 2017

I couldn't put this book down. Quite a journey. Struck me as so real, so human. An excellent read in my opinion. Has me reflecting on my own life so far and the bits that I struggle with. Gives me hope.

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GrammyDey
Nov 18, 2015

I just finished reading this book. It is long, but worth the time! The Intertwining of real life occurrences makes it more interesting as well as the time spent delving into history. I highly recommend it.

I will certainly read more of his novels.

s
sbryant124
Mar 16, 2015

The writing was lovely, I just couldn't get into the story.

d
dlh1
Apr 14, 2014

I enjoy Wally Lamb books because they are so real. I always learn so much from them, as he shows "the big picture", not just a tiny slice of life. Everything that happens in our lives has ripples that could affect thousands. This book gave me a much better understanding of PTSD and the American prison system. I would love to have been a student in one of his classrooms, but reading his books is probably the next best thing.

e
emkenny78
Feb 06, 2014

Another great Wally Lamb book. You can tell how much time he puts into his books, doesn't just spit them out one after another like many authors.

m
marionjames
Dec 28, 2011

An excellent read altho apparently off into historical essays at times; it's worth preservering thru it all to get the full measure of the story. Some found it difficult to stay with the misery - I think that speaks to the nature of the beast and therefore to the author's skill. Depression does seem never ending when in its gripand the point is to bring the reader into that experience, however painful.. A tragedy followed thru many perspectives to a solid conclusion.

k
kariocyte
Oct 08, 2011

When I first began reading this book I had perused through a few of the other reader reviews that were on here. I was disappointed to find that there was quite a few negative reviews of the story. I continued reading as I had bought the book and had committed myself to reading it, and hey, I had loved his other books.
I was expecting the story to drag but it didn't. I loved this book. I loved the way that he looked at many different people and showed how trauma in life changed and moulded his characters in so many ways. I love the way that he reached back into the history of the protagonist, giving him 'roots', a new way to view his own life.
The whole butterfly/mantis opposing ways of viewing the world were so cool and I didn't really pull that together until after I finished. When I did see this link I appreciated the book more fully.
Mr. Lamb's characters are so real and fallible but at the same time they move through these situations, they find the good side.
I completely recommend reading this long, disturbing, wonderful, time and emotionally consuming book!

e
elinpat
Sep 08, 2011

C lick on the title over iin shelves for plot. I found it easy to read but would not give it an excellent.
About a man's struggle to find out about himself after his world is torn apart by the Columine massacre,

b
baylife
Aug 29, 2011

Well written with well rounded characters with an unusual history and in an interesting setting, but the sheer misery of the wife of the main protaganist became very tedious and the urge was to shout "for goodness sake pull yourself together" long before I struggled through second half of the 720+ pages. I'm sure as a study of post traumatic stress syndrome it has some merit and there were many fascinating and intriguing parts, especially in Caelum's mysterious history, but it was far too long and depressing to make a good read.

j
jbeckber
Dec 01, 2010

This book surpassed my expectations. I liked how it all came full circle.

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