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The Invisible Hour


The Invisible Hour

“Then she had found his book, and once she began to read, she understood there was a door that would lead her out of her situation, and that every book was a door, and there were a thousand lives she might live.”

For young Mia Jacob, the promises of her poor abandoned mother Ivy had led her to a place she could only rebel against, the worst transgression being that she became a person who loved and needed the worlds inside books. As her literary liaison intensifies, she reads THE SCARLET LETTER and discovers a way to run from the angry man who haunts her after Ivy dies. How was Mia to know that this novel not only would help fashion the rest of her life but would be the book that would forever tell her mother’s story?

"THE INVISIBLE HOUR is a genuinely thrilling story, alternately cozy and scary, exciting and terrifying.... This could become Hoffman’s most beloved novel, which is saying a lot!"

In THE INVISIBLE HOUR, the latest of Alice Hoffman’s wondrous oeuvre of amazing stories, Mia finds the portal to a time before her own and assures that one of the greatest pieces of American literature would be born.

Mia’s red hair signifies the fiery nature of her brave heart. The daughter of a teen mom whose father cast her out, Mia has grown up in the cult that Ivy came to at her most naïve and vulnerable. What was supposed to be a place of complete freedom has been manhandled into one of oppression and denial for the women living there. Mia takes a chance and runs away from The Community to the tiny town of Blackwell, where the local library offers her the best means of escape.

There is always so much going on in an Alice Hoffman book that it’s hard not to give away all the fantastic otherworldly details when trying to summarize the complex story. My sisters and I always celebrate a new release from Hoffman, who is one of our favorite authors. One reason is the way that she brings her characters to life; another is how she utilizes the history and beauty of our native New England to weave tales that feel as if they are ages-old. Reading her is like reading Jane Austen, just a modern version of it.

The social mores that Hoffman rips to shreds with her bold female protagonists have to do with women finding their autonomy and exercising their newfound independence in order to change the world for themselves and the next generation. But the stories are never heavy; Hoffman’s use of language that feels like it’s from another time --- a gentler time --- is brilliantly contrary to that. This book, which also features sensitive author Nathaniel Hawthorne in a magical display of romanticism and science fiction with a disarming ease, gives readers a flight through known and unknown worlds that unfold a litany of questions about life and women’s history and the importance of storytelling that only Hoffman could build into such an engagement.

THE INVISIBLE HOUR is a genuinely thrilling story, alternately cozy and scary, exciting and terrifying. Hoffman has almost outdone herself at this time in her career, bringing us banger after banger, year after year. This tale of womanly inspiration and aspiration, generational love, freedom and independence, and what they all mean to women at different times provides a stirring backdrop to one of the sweetest, most longing of all of Hoffman’s romantic entanglements. Mia, Ivy, Nathaniel, and those who oppose them and try to stop them from their fates are a lively bunch. This could become Hoffman’s most beloved novel, which is saying a lot!

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on August 17, 2023

The Invisible Hour
by Alice Hoffman

  • Publication Date: May 21, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1982175389
  • ISBN-13: 9781982175382