I received The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey in my December Book of the Month box. It was a sweeping historical romance that spanned the course of eleven years through 1920s and 1930s London.
The story follows Selina Lennox Carew and her daughter, Alice. Selina has traveled to Burma with her husband Rupert to check on their ruby mines. Alice is left behind at the Lennox’s family estate, Blackwood. This location gave me vibes reminiscent of The Secret Garden — curt wait staff, children only allowed in certain areas of the house at certain time, and some overgrown landscaping. At Blackwood, Alice feels lonely and depressed, with the only bright spots in her day being letters from her mother & their trip. One of the maids, Polly, works with Selina to create a treasure hunt for Alice as well, and Alice is learning more and more about her mother with each clue.
At first, I wasn’t a fan of the dual timeline stories. It felt like Alice was just being used as a framing device for the story, and I wasn’t entirely sure how she fit in to the grand scheme of things. I found myself more drawn to the chapters and sections of the text that revolved around Selina and her friends, notorious London socialites known as Bright Young Things. The setting was decadent and Selina’s friends were an absolute joy to read about. Once I was moved further into the book, Alice, I grew to love both timelines equally. In fact, by the end, I was obsessed with the heartbreaking mother-daughter dynamic that really highlighted how oppressed women were at the time.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but I did predict a big piece of the ending pretty quickly. However, the author crafted the story in such a way that I was invested in these characters and wanted to see it through to the end. This was also a point in time I’m not too familiar with, but it has definitely inspired me to find more books set in this era!
If you’re a fan of historical romance, I think you’ll love The Glittering Hour. It has lovable characters, a lush setting, a little mystery, and a love of romance. This was a 4/5 star read for me!