“Memory’s a bit short of kindness at times isn’t it? If you’re not careful, it can discard the good stuff and make the bad bits a little too important.”
“The Hidden Hours” is a story told via dual timelines.
Eleanor at 10 years old living in the Australian Outback:
Eleanor, along with her parents and older brother, move from their home in the city to the Outback. Eleanor’s father is planning to build a house there for his family. In the meanwhile, they are going to live in a tin shed on the property. The shed has no electricity or running water and is a furnace in the hot Australian winter. The family, living in these primitive and close conditions are under stress. Her father is doing the work mostly on his own with the help of her mother. Her brother is surly and distant. Eleanor is left to her own devices.
An extreme trauma besets the family. One that Eleanor carries with her…
Eleanor at 21 years who has recently moved into the house of her maternal uncle, Ian, in London, England:
Ian’s wife, Susan, is her landlord and her boss for she found Eleanor a job in the publishing company for which she is CEO. A few weeks into her new position as a PA, Eleanor goes to a company hosted Christmas party on a boat in the Thames. Here Eleanor meets Arabella, a senior executive of the company, who befriends her and spikes her drink with drugs. Things become hazy after that and Eleanor has no memory of the subsequent events. Her uncle finds her on his steps at two in the morning.
When Eleanor returns to work, she discovers that Arabella has been found dead near Cleopatra’s Needle on the Thames. Having found Arabella’s beautiful ring in her purse, Eleanor cannot help but question her own part in the events leading to Arabella’s death. She cannot remember anything. Those hours are hidden to her…
Her aunt and uncle’s marriage seems on precarious ground. The house is filled with tension. Eleanor feels sympathy for their two young daughters.
The police are questioning everyone who was at the party. They have Eleanor on CCTV…
“She has come halfway around the world to escape her demons, and yet they seem to have followed her. Fleeing hasn’t worked.”
I was immersed in Eleanor’s story. Her childhood experiences and resultant trauma in the Australian Outback was very memorable and made a real impression.
As a young girl, Eleanor was extremely lonely and this loneliness seems to have remained with her into adulthood. After Arabella’s murder, the reader empathizes with Eleanor’s frustration at her memory loss. Riddled with self doubt, she doesn’t know who to trust, or if in fact she can even trust herself…
With themes of suppressed emotions, guilt, and loneliness merged with a murder mystery, this novel held by rapt attention throughout.
The story was compelling and well executed. The narrative flowed well and the characters and descriptions were well drawn. The ending was satisfying and tied up all the loose ends.
Although this was my first read by Sara Foster, I am now eager to read more of her backlist. Highly recommended!This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Blackstone Publishing via NetGalley.
Publication date: November 3, 2020 Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Sara Foster is the bestselling author of six psychological suspense novels: YOU DON’T KNOW ME, THE HIDDEN HOURS, ALL THAT IS LOST BETWEEN US, SHALLOW BREATH, BENEATH THE SHADOWS, and COME BACK TO ME. Her new novel THE HUSH will be published by HarperCollins (Aus) and Blackstone (US) in November 2021.
Born and raised in the UK, Sara worked for a time in the HarperCollins fiction department in London, before turning her hand to freelance editing, and writing in her spare time.
It wasn’t until 2007 that Sara decided to pursue her dream of getting published, and she took time out from editing to finish her first book. COME BACK TO ME was published in Australia in 2010 and reached the Sydney Morning Herald top ten Australian bestsellers list. Her second book, BENEATH THE SHADOWS, reached No. 4 on the Australian Sunday Telegraph bestsellers list, and was published in the USA and Germany. Her fifth novel, THE HIDDEN HOURS, was shortlisted for the 2013 Davitt Award, and has been optioned by TV production company CJZ.
Sara is very proud to have been one of the original editors of the bestselling Kids’ Night In series, which has been raising money for the charity War Child since 2003. In 2004 she moved to Western Australia, where she lives with her husband and young daughters.