Tracy Rees follows last year’s wonderful historical novel Florence Grace with a more contemporary tale set in London and the lovely coastal town of Tenby in Wales. The dual-time tale follows Nora in 2014, a burnt-out Londoner approaching forty and in need of a change, and teenager Chloe in 1950s Tenby, desperate to dance and experience the glamour and romance of adult life.
Nora has impulsively left both her boyfriend and her admin job behind to follow a startling vision of a beach which she knows will bring her peace and help her sort out what she wants to do with life. In the 1950s, Chloe clashes with her older cousin and befriends Leonard, a lonely young boy with a passion for photography. Nora has always felt drawn to Wales, and so she visits Tenby and tries to understand why her mother left it behind and refuses to return. It’s left to the reader to work out the connection between the two characters, and Rees does a wonderful job of overlapping and interweaving the two stories.
The author has a gift for creating powerful and distinct character voices, and reading a Tracy Rees novel is very much like sitting down for tea and a chat with an old friend. Well plotted and well written, The Hourglass will make a wonderful summer read for fans of Lucinda Riley, Rosanna Ley, Rachel Hore or Jojo Moyes.