‘The Forgotten Hours’ is an outstanding novel that had me mesmerised from the first page. It is an utterly original piece of work that delves into issues of family loyalty and friendships but mostly it looks at memory, how we often choose our own truths without even knowing it, and the great lengths we’ll go to in order to protect ourselves from the painful reality. It is both shocking and mesmerising and I really can’t believe it is a debut novel it was so well put together.
The protagonists father goes to jail for statutory rape of her best friend - Katie has stood by her father visiting him in prison, taking his calls and defending him. She herself has pushed through life not really attaching herself to anything or anyone. Now she has a job she enjoys, a boyfriend with a promising art future ... she is faced with preparing for her fathers release, nearly a decade on from the nightmare and things from the past are beginning to collide and force her to confront a new reality.
It’s impossible to put ourselves in the protagonists shoes... how would I respond if my father went to jail for statutory rape of my best friend? And of course who would I side with... the man who has raised me, loved me, been there for me... ‘It’s easy to accept his explanation. Asking gives life to fear—it’s better to be silent’ or the best friend who knows my childhood dreams, who I’ve secretly idolised.... and worse still what if a decade later your choice haunts you as you fear you might be wrong as your early teenage years are now hazy...
‘I was a normal girl too—a girl with a father who took me blueberry picking and told me stories, a mother I could count on. I had a best friend I adored, and she betrayed us. Was this true, this statement that had calcified in Katie’s mind—had Lulu really betrayed them? Katie bent over and put her hands on her knees. She had believed this for so long, but the possibility that she had it all wrong insinuated itself into her mind. The possibility that, in fact, it was Katie who had been the betrayer...’
This is a powerful novel expertly crafted around a crime that is all too real, and strikes too close to a very normal middle class home. Schumann pulls you into Katie's world, feeling like the world is closing in around her and then she wraps you in all the emotions from each character in such a way that you literally can't put the book down. There are often many sides to a story and relationships are never linear and often complicated yet these are navigated and weaved together brilliantly.
Katrin Schumann in ‘The Forgotten Hours’ has managed to combine a fascinating and page turning storyline with a beautiful writing style. Normally when I finish a novel, I move on to the next, however I am just content to absorb what I have just read... this book will stay with me for many years. Utterly original and thought provoking in every way.
I bought this book from the blurb and 3 stars is generous.
It was touted as a book of the year, and held the promise of so much, and in parts it did deliver, but overall it wasn't anywhere near as satisfying as I expected.
I found Katie, the main character, tiresome and incredibly juvenile with her constant introspection and total self absorption.
As a teen this seemed reasonable, if tedious, but for a woman in her twenties, too damn naive to be believable, the deliberate way she hides her head in sand is not credible, especially as she goes to university and gains a degree, yet she doesn't mature and completely fails to gain any sense of self - she is still so naively trusting as to be convinced of her father's innocence and this really stretched my credibility, and began to annoy me. I kept thinking, hell at Katie's age I was a mother who had buried a child - and here's a university educated woman who deliberately shuns learning the truth of her father's trial and conviction - and shaking my head. Sure in all fiction a reader needs to suspend a certain amount of belief, but for me this only works up to a certain point - at times I was tempted to put the book aside- Katie annoyed me so much. The other characters, Katie's mother and her brother could both have contributed so much richness to the story were mere cardboard cutouts, cyphers, without any real substance character or presence, and yet properly developed they could have added so much more if they'd been woven into the tapestry of the story and brought alive on the page.
The only character that did come alive on the page was Lulu, and she was painted with such vivid strokes that showed up all the other characters as cutouts.
This book holds the threads to be so much more but for me it fell sadly flat and left me disappointed. At times I wanted to shake Katie and tell her to grow the hell up, and to kick her mother in the shins and wake her up out of her apathy, she was certainly sadly lacking as a parent. What message is she sending her children with her weak enabling of a narcissistic Peter Pan, a serial adulterer, a man who never wanted to grow up and be a father to his children. She didn't possess enough strength of character to see her husband for what he is until her own father, Katie's grandfather, took a hand.
The stunning hypocrisy of the adult world that Katie faces as she is forced into adulthood is richly and emotionally described by Katrin Schumann.
Katie's fun loving and much loved dad is getting out of prison for the statutory rape of her best friend. She is cleaning up their cabin when she discovers old letters which start her wondering about the case. We relive that fateful summer as Katie blossoms into womanhood and the typical behaviours of the adults start to be seen for their hypocrisy.
As her dad's release comes Katie starts to understand the other side of the the adult world. There is a crescendo of emotion as the past is faced. The whole house of cards is revealed. How will it effect her current relationship.
The emotional journey through to adulthood can be a bit hard. Like Romeo and Juliet except there are no heroes it is up to the girl woman to choose. It appears that the father cannot see the world has moved on.
This story tends to stereotypes to make its point and it is intended as a cautionary tale. I found the whole whole set up to be very much in the context of social mores and behaviours more aligned with the fifties. Perhaps this is deliberate on the part of the author. I found it a little hard that Dirty Dancing still exists but apart from that the book is a good read.
A difficult concept to write about, this book follows Katie, a 25 year old woman who struggles a bit with forming connections to people. Her life has been greatly shaped by an incident one summer between her father and her best friend, one that saw her father imprisoned for statutory rape. The years have passed, Katie's family have all been impacted by the events, and now, her father is getting out. She's always believed her dad over her friend, but as she begins digging into the past, she starts to question what she once thought.