Monday, July 17, 2023

The Invisible Hour by Alice Hoffman

One brilliant June day when Mia Jacob can no longer see a way to survive, the power of words saves her. The Scarlet Letter was written almost two hundred years earlier, but it seems to tell the story of Mia’s mother, Ivy, and their life inside the Community—an oppressive cult in western Massachusetts where contact with the outside world is forbidden, and books are considered evil. But how could this be? How could Nathaniel Hawthorne have so perfectly captured the pain and loss that Mia carries inside her?

Through a journey of heartbreak, love, and time, Mia must abandon the rules she was raised with at the Community. As she does, she realizes that reading can transport you to other worlds or bring them to you, and that readers and writers affect one another in mysterious ways. She learns that time is more fluid than she can imagine, and that love is stronger than any chains that bind you.

As a girl Mia fell in love with a book. Now as a young woman she falls in love with a brilliant writer as she makes her way back in time. But what if Nathaniel Hawthorne never wrote The Scarlet Letter? And what if Mia Jacob never found it on the day she planned to die?

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

This is the story of one woman’s dream. For a little while it came true.

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Expected publication August 15, 2023
 by Atria Books
3.5/5 stars

It has been quite some time since I last read an Alice Hoffman book, but with the release of The Invisible Hour on August 15th, I found myself delving into her world once again. This is the second book in as many months that places Nathaniel Hawthorne at the centre of its story.

The story begins with a young, unwed, and pregnant teenager who has been shunned by her family. Seeking solace, she discovers a community called The Community, which adheres to strict rules and has no outside contact. As the story progresses, I connected with Mia, now a teenager herself, as she embarks on her own journey. She finds solace and inspiration in a hidden book, The Scarlet Letter, which empowers her to shape her own future.

The Invisible Hour is a captivating tale with a strong literary feel. While the pace may be slower than what I'm accustomed to, my genuine interest in Mia's fate compelled me to persist through this magical story. It explores themes of family, survival, the empowerment of women, and the strong connection between reading and books—a true win-win.

Though literary fiction is not really my thing I do recommend this book to readers who appreciate stories with a bookish atmosphere.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster CA (via Edelweiss) for a digital arc in exchange for honest review.

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