The Glittering Hour: A Novel

Written by Iona Grey
Review by Ellen Jaquette

This is 1920s London as remembered and described by Selina Lennox, a former Bright Young Thing. The story of her time in the fast and rich set, filled with reckless adventure and love before her life changed dramatically, is told in pieces to her daughter eleven years later through a series of letters and clues left at Selina’s childhood estate. Young Alice, missing her mother and neglected by relatives, longs to understand her story and reunite with her mother again. Through this treasure hunt she slowly begins to understand who she is, and what is happening to her mother.

This is a deceptively bittersweet tale, a story of loss and discovery covered in flashes of riches and freedom that obscure its melancholy core. Lavish parties, alcohol, and a sense of chaos and freedom circle the truth: that Selina’s family grieves for her brother killed in WWI, that the lavish lifestyle this set leads can be dangerous, and that Selina is not truly free, or not brave enough to try, to live the life she longs to lead. As Alice pieces together what happened to her mother, so does the reader, and hints of the mystery are well balanced to add intrigue but not reveal the truth until it is time. The pacing works to craft a heartbreaking but ultimately positive tone that will hit many emotions. And while it is a love story in Selina’s past that we follow and mourn, it’s the relationship between Alice and her parents that takes center stage at the end. Recommended.