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The Hour I First Believed [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Wally Lamb , George Guidall
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
RRP: £54.23
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Book Description

Nov 2008

From the author of the international number one bestseller I Know This Much is True comes a magnificent novel which explores the consequence of violent events, and the chaos that ensues, for human lives blown irrevocably off course

Caelum Quirk and his wife Maureen move to Colorado and find jobs at Columbine High School. One day in April 1999, when Caelum is called away by a family emergency, Maureen cowers in a cupboard in the school library, hiding from two students on a murderous rampage. Though miraculously she survives, Maureen cannot recover from the trauma. Seeking solace, the couple returns to Connecticut to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family farm.

As Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of forgotten memorabilia spanning five generations of his family. As he painstakingly reconstructs the lives of his ancestors, he must confront their secrets and fashion a future from the ashes of his own tragedy. His personal quest for meaning becomes a mythic journey that is both contemporary and quintessentially American.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 20 pages
  • Publisher: HarperAudio; Unabridged edition (Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061703036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061703034
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 14.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,814,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Wally Lamb's first novel, 'She's Come Undone', won rave reviews when it was published in 1992. It was a finalist in the 'Los Angeles Times' First Novel Award, a Top Ten book for 'People' magazine and a Notable Book for the 'New York Times'. Both 'She's Come Undone' and 'I Know This Much Is True' have been chosen for Oprah's Book Club. Wally Lamb now teaches writing at the University of Connecticut. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and their three sons.

Product Description



‘A fine and humane novel which tries to make sense of America's turbulent times’ Daily Mail
‘Captivating…he entrances’ Financial Times
‘Those who love a good plot will not be disappointed…He avoids any maudlin sentiment and constantly surprises. He delivers on his message of redemption…it is genuinely moving.’ Independent


‘A modern Greek tragedy…[Lamb’s] success is to present this with terrific readability, tenderness, optimism and, most surprisingly, wit… The hallmark of the book is fine writing and a commendable depth of characterisation’
The Times
‘Wally Lamb’s achievement is to force you to feel Dominick’s pain… the events in Dominick’s everyday nightmare are presented with a sneaky simplicity which generates emotional tension’
Daily Telegraph
‘A triumph of simple beauty’
‘I Know This Much Is True never grapples with anything less than life’s biggest questions… a modern-day Dostoyevsky’
New York Times
‘Every now and then a book comes along that sets new standards for writers and readers alike. Wally Lamb’s latest novel is stunning – and even that might be an understatement’
Associated Press

Reader reviews on Amazon include:
‘This is my top read ever. It’s fantastic.’
‘I will re-read it for years to come. Why can’t they all be this good?’
‘The book had such an insight of human nature that it left me wondering how was it possible to capture so much truth in a simple way.’
‘It will make you laugh, gasp and cry.’

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Wally Lamb’s first novel, ‘She’s Come Undone’, won rave reviews when it was published in 1992. It was a finalist in the ‘Los Angeles Times’ First Novel Award, a Top Ten book for ‘People’ magazine and a Notable Book for the ‘New York Times’. Both ‘She’s Come Undone’ and ‘I Know This Much Is True’ have been chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. Wally Lamb now teaches writing at the University of Connecticut. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and their three sons.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 24 Jan 2010
I've waited so long for a wally lamb book so started this with eager anticipation. I liked the character of Caelum- he made a strong centre around which the story builds.

I really liked the beginning third of the book, which places Caelum and his wife right in the centre of the Columbine High School shootings. This was brilliantly written, never sensationalising, but giving a perceptive insight in to what much have been a harrowing and horrifying time for not only those directly involved, but those indirectly involved.

I have to say, i really struggled with the flash backs to Caelums Great Grandmother. i got confused with the characters as so many were introduced, and i didn't connect with them. As such i felt this part of the book really hard going and a little disappointing.

The book picks up in the final third, with a strong story and finish.

This was my least favourite of the Wally Lamb novels, the other 2 were just outstanding, i just hope the next one can get back to top form.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wanna shot at redemption 22 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This lengthy and profound novel by Wally Lamb covers major US events of the past two decades including The Columbine High School shootings, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, as well as chewing over weighty social issues such as marriage, drug addiction, prison reform, the connection between ancestry and identity and so on.

Our narrator is Caelum Quirk, a high school English teacher living in Littleton, Colorado, who has anger management issues that he's struggling to contain, whilst his third marriage hits the skids as well. A series of coincidences lead to Caelum discovering that there has been a massacre at the school where he works, Columbine, and his semi-estranged wife Maureen who also works there, as a nurse, has managed to survive by hiding in the library. Due to her guilt over surviving the ordeal, Maureen becomes addicted to prescription drugs and the pair of them start to go downhill even more rapidly.

Ultimately an optimistic and uplifting novel about redemption, albeit a secular kind, Lamb's easy narrative style and awkward but likeable characters is aimed at enriching and improving the reader's life, summed-up at the end of this fascinating book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the finest novel I have ever read. 24 Oct 2009
I approached "The Hour I First Believed" with a great deal of anticipation, having read and really enjoyed Wally Lamb's two previous novels within a couple of months of each other - albeit almost a decade ago. To say that this book does not disappoint would be a massive understatement. The strengths that he displayed in his previous books are again evident here, notably the depth of his characterisation. Caelum Quirk is deeply flawed, but it is the flaws and the frailties of his character that make him such a fascinating person, indeed his journey of redemption and self discovery are all the more plausible because of them. The same is true of his wife Maureen and the peripheral characters (I hesitate to use the word minor in this context).

As in his first book "She's Come Undone," Lamb uses real events as the focal points of his narrative. There it was Woodstock and the moon landings, here it is the Columbine shootings and to a lesser extent Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. Some people have taken issue with this, calling it a cop-out and saying that it renders the book shallow and dishonest. I disagree, I think it gives the book a legitimacy and makes it more truthful. This is also true of the social issues that Lamb takes on board - alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, drug dependency, infidelity, and in the second half of the story, slavery, lesbianism and female emancipation. Some of this does not make for comfortable reading, but as with the failings of his characters, Lamb tackles them with an openness and an honesty that draws you into his world.

"The Hour I First Believed" is a big book, but one that is worth taking time with. I know that some people have struggled with it, this is a shame, because reading it is a richly rewarding experience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful novel for our times 25 May 2009
Stuff happens. A butterfly flaps its wings in China and two disaffected teenagers go on a killing spree at Columbine High School. If Caelum Quirk's aunt in Connecticut hadn't had a stroke a few days earlier, he would be teaching his literature class at Columbine. If Maureen Quirk had been able to get an earlier flight, she wouldn't have been hiding in a cupboard in the school library.

Those few hours in the library placed Maureen and Caelum at the centre of a labyrinth that they will spend the rest of their lives trying escape. As they search for the threads that will lead them to the exit, medication and therapy fail. Gradually Caelum turns to stories as a way of understanding the couple's personal nightmare and the chaos that is starting to engulf their country. Drawing on everything from Greek and Hindu mythology to the unfolding history of Caelum's family and the personal stories of other "lost" people, Caelum and Maureen embark on an epic journey out of chaos.

"The Hour I First Believed" is about the cumulative effect of apparently arbitrary events on the lives of individuals, families and communities. More importantly, and more powerfully, it's about the enduring power of stories to help us make sense of the incomprehensable.

I've given this four stars rather five because the prose occasionally rambles and I did get slightly lost at times in the Quirk family tree, but this is still well worth reading. I finished this book two weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A gripping, moving and thought-provoking novel
Published 7 days ago by rabbidel
4.0 out of 5 stars It needs perseverance to finish it but I'm glad I did
A complicated gripping story. It needs perseverance to finish it but I'm glad I did.
Published 15 days ago by Marie Clohessy
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
This book is probably one of the best I have ever is profound and touches the very essence of human resilience oozes hope.....
Published 15 days ago by charmian owston
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
Fantastic read.
Published 2 months ago by Marran Grey
4.0 out of 5 stars I love imperfection
This book is an emotional tour de force. I love all the imperfections of the main characters and how they struggle so hard to find their way.
Published 2 months ago by Lynn76
2.0 out of 5 stars A trilogy that is attempted as one story - confusing but beautiful

Actually I'd have enjoyed this more if it was the three books it was supposed to be. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Bradfordiansteph
4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes grim, but a rewarding read
Superficially the subject of the book seems quickly to be very negative. There are so many tragedies that befall the main characters it doesn't seem possible that there can be... Read more
Published 6 months ago by MR D J BRUNNING
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing
I've always liked Wally Lamb's books and this one didn't disappoint me. They can be a little bit depressing but always have redeeming features. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J. Rees
5.0 out of 5 stars Wally Lamb can do no wrong
Its a Wally Lamb book - what more can I say. I love his books (such a shame there are so few - but then if they were churned out they would lose something). Read more
Published 7 months ago by MJS
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great American Story.
Recommended by a friend and through Goodreads. Several stories interwoven which prism America through the novels characters. A great novel!
Published 12 months ago by naufraga_illusa
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