Title: The Hourglass
Author: Tracy Rees
Published: May 4th 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia for Quercus
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Romance, Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3 stars
2014. Sensible Nora has always taken success for granted, until suddenly her life begins to fall apart. Troubled by anxiety and nightmares, she finds herself drawn to the sweeping beaches of Tenby, a place she’s only been once before. Together with a local girl she rents a beautiful townhouse and slowly begins to settle in to her new life. But Tenby hides a secret, and Nora will soon discover that this little town by the sea has the power to heal even the most painful memories.
1950. Teenager Chloe visits Tenby every summer. She stays with relatives, and spends the long, idyllic days on the beach. Every year is the same, until she meets a glamorous older boy and is instantly smitten. But on the night of their first date, Chloe comes to a realisation, the aftermath of which could haunt her forever.
The Hourglass is a moving novel about reinvention and reconciliation; about finding love even after it seems too late, about family and the healing power of a magical place by the sea.
Mrs R’s review:
Tracy Rees has been dubbed ‘The most outstanding new voice in historical fiction’. While I would love to agree with author Lucinda Reilly on this one, I can’t. I really enjoyed Rees’ first book Amy Snow but The Hourglass fell short of the mark. Initially I was drawn to the beautiful front cover of a woman standing on the beach holding a bouquet of flowers, wearing a vivid red dress. I wondered how an hourglass would be interwoven. When I saw the author, it quickly became a must buy. The dual storyline with alternating chapters between the past and present also drew me in as this is one of my favourite writing techniques. Set in both 1950 and 2014, I found myself favouring the 2014 plot. This is highly unusual for me because I adore historical fiction. However, 1950s Chloe in Tenby bored me. Chloe is the main character of 11 years old who visits Tenby once a year, staying with family. While I got to see Chloe grow a little older each summer, nothing really happened. She’s like every other teenager who wanted to hang out with the cool kids and has a major crush on the wrong boy. This was a huge letdown as the blurb promised that the ‘aftermath of a date would haunt her forever’. Disappointingly I predicted what would happen and it did, three quarters of the way through. It felt a little too late and too rushed at this point. 2014 Tenby was much more fascinating as the story arc followed 40-year-old Nora dealing with her relationships issues, mainly her ex boyfriend and parents. I could relate to Nora coming up to the big 4-0 myself but more importantly, events happened to her. Of course, there’s always a connection with two characters in a dual narrative which I thought Rees kept well hidden. At over 500 pages, I thought more should have happened to Chloe or Nora’s life, which should have been the main focus. As for that hourglass, well I won’t give the significance away but it was flimsy at best.
The Hourglass, by Tracy Rees was published in Australia on the 4th May 2017 by Hachette Australia for Quercus. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.