Blue Hour By Sarah Schmidt – A Review

Publisher: Tinder Press

Publication Date: 7th July 2022

I’m almost too apprehensive to write a review for Blue Hour by Sarah Schmidt purely because it’s one of those books that having read it you desperately just want people to read it. Full stop. End of review.

I read Sarah’s debut novel See What I Have Done a few years ago and loved it. I had high hopes going into Blue Hour and let me tell you that all my expectations of this book were met and then some!

Set in Australia, Blue Hour tells the stories of two women, mother and daughter Kitty and Eleanor. Both women are suffering due to the effects of war on their husbands. We have Kitty, a nurse in the 1940’s who meets George and starts a relationship with him. George is then a casualty of WW2 and on his return Kitty helps nurse him. Whilst he’s not exactly the love of her life after returning from war, they make a connection and Kitty falls pregnant. But whilst dealing with pregnancy and a young child, Kitty has to contend with George’s terrible night terrors, changes in personality and odd behaviour which often sends him off to the hospital for long periods of time.

The book opens with Kitty’s daughter, Eleanor in the present day (which happens to be the 1970’s) escaping in the night from her abusive husband Leon, who has returned from the war in Vietnam. She takes their baby, Amy and flees in the car, heading towards the Blue Mountain, a place of solace from her childhood.

The narratives flit between present day Eleanor, Kitty in the 1940’s onwards interspersed with brief chapters from when Eleanor was a child and the perceptions she has of her parents and their strained relationship.

This book deals with so many issues, the ramifications of war and how they can reverberate down through generations. The taught and fraught anxiety of motherhood and what makes a good mother, loss and love and grieving for the things you didn’t realise you would miss. It also deals with trauma and how this can be passed on through the generations, particularly from mother to daughter.

There is a creeping horror in the everyday details. A sense of being unnerved and unsettled by certain moods and behaviours. There are times you want to look away and take a brief respite from the tension but you absolutely can’t.

You are in effect witnessing the very personal and very intimate ways in which these two women come unravelled over the decades.

I cried in places and I don’t cry easily! There is one event that was like a sucker punch to the heart. It made me question what I had already read up to that point and made me return to certain chapters to see if what I thought had happened had actually happened!

The way Sarah Schmidt writes is so beautifully crafted, and it really is just that, a craft. She uses words and sentence construction in such a powerful way. She repeats certain words and phrases to really hit them home and her short, partially formed staccato sentences give way to beautifully detailed prose when the tension and emotion ratchets up.

This book is multilayered in terms of themes and of construction and the building of characters. Characters, especially Kitty who provoke lots of unanswered questions.

Blue Hour just completely blew me away and I will be thinking about it (and desperate to talk about it with other readers!) for a long while.

Thank you so much to Emily Patience and Tinder Press for my review copy.

See you all soon.

Amanda x

2 thoughts on “Blue Hour By Sarah Schmidt – A Review

  1. My TBR list has just gotten longer. Here’s another novel you might like: An Actual Life, by Abigail Thomas. It’s a family drama narrated by a young mother and wife who is in a loveless marriage. I don’t write about books regularly, but I plan to say a few things about An Actual Life in one of my articles pretty soon.

    Like

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