She thinks of blue mountain, her favourite place.
‘We’re going somewhere where we can be safe. We never have to come back here.’
– blue hour
[ About the Book ]
As the rest of the world lies sleeping, Eleanor straps her infant daughter, Amy, into the back of her car. This is the moment she knew must come, when they will walk out on her husband Leon and a marriage in ruins since his return from Vietnam. Together, she and Amy will journey to blue mountain, a place of enchantment and refuge that lit up Eleanor’s childhood.
As the car eats up the miles, so Eleanor’s mind dives back into her fractured relationship with her mother, Kitty. Kitty who asked for so much from life, from love, from family. Kitty who had battled so hard to prise her husband George out of the grip of war. Kitty, whose disapproving voice rings so loud in Eleanor’s head.
[ My Review ]
blue hour by Sarah Schmidt will be published July 7th with Tinder Press and is described as ‘tense, visceral, glittering…a masterful return to fiction from the author of the acclaimed See What I Have Done.’
blue hour is a powerfully complex, dark and, at times, harrowing and difficult read. Crossing timelines and generations it questions the complicated nature of the mother-daughter relationship. Kitty is a nurse working in the 1940s in a repatriation hospital for injured soldiers. Kitty’s mother was extremely strict and now working in Wintonvale Kitty has the space to be herself. She relishes the opportunity to let her hair down a little, without the overbearing influence of her mother ever present. While there, she meets George Turner at a dance one evening and they have a short and intense courtship. George was heading off to fight and they talked of marriage on his return, both knowing that it was a pipedream. But George did return. A changed man, both emotionally and physically, Kitty stood by his side committing to marriage and all that it involved.
In the 1970s, Eleanor grew up always with a feeling of being unloved by her mother Kitty. Kitty was angry, bitter and never satisfied with anything in life. Her father, George, was a quiet man, one who frequently needed silence and time away from the chaos of living. It was a strained marriage that impacted Eleanor for all of her life. She never wanted to be like her mother. She wanted a freedom away from the pervading darkness of those childhood years.
In later years Eleanor met Leon. He was different to other men, more open about exploring his feelings and life in general. He seemed to understand Eleanor, so she took a risk and let him in. But with Vietnam looming, Eleanor feared for her relationship. Could her marriage survive the impact of war? Would Leon return scarred like her father George? Motherhood was an unexpected experience for Eleanor and she made a pact with herself that she would not be like her mother before her. But life has a curious way of unfolding and Eleanor is soon faced with some terrifying moments and choices.
blue hour is a shocking read, a bewildering and disconcerting experience as we traverse the years with Kitty and Eleanor. The brutality of war is a frightening backdrop for this emotive tale of familial discontent. Motherhood is central to blue hour and how its toxicity can seep through the generations even when the best of intentions exist. There are some beautiful moments between George and Eleanor as they have a shared passion for nature. But these times of tranquillity are rare in lives that have been too damaged by a life lived.
blue hour is a memorable, harrowing and gut-wrenching piece of writing. It is a challenging literary read, one that will remain with you for many days after. An intense and shattering novel, blue hour is a profound and sharply written tale that I encourage you to read.
**Recommended Reading – I came across an extraordinary piece in The Age where Sarah Schmidt states that “I see the role of fiction when it’s sometimes dark is to help readers understand or experience something through the safety of a book ” The article provides an incredible insight into Sarah Schmidt’s own personal experiences and why she wrote blue hour, including additional background information on her writing. You can read it HERE
[ Bio ]
Sarah Schmidt is the acclaimed author of SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and won the AIBA Literary Fiction of the Year 2018. She lives in Melbourne where she works as a librarian.
Website ~ https://sarahschmidt.org/
Twitter ~ @ikillnovel