I believe this is probably the best Sue Gee book. To call it a story does not do it justice it is far more than that. It gets inside all the main characters especially Gillian who has led such a sheltered life. The discriptions of the countryside are truly magnificent. In the words of an English teacher I have worked with Sue Gee uses the best possible words in the best possible order. I am not going to say much about the story line - everyone should read it and find out for themselves. If you appreciate the English language well written then this is the book for you. It is one of those books that you cannot put down but you do not want it to end. It provoked such an interest in me that I looked up some of Thomas Traherne's poetry. They are beautiful too. I have now read this book twice and I shall now go back and reread some more of Sue Gee's. I wish I could find more authors like her.
This novel is much better than its cover would suggest. The title, too, doesn't do it justice. It is one of those special books that take you into their own world, and you become wholly immersed in the sounds, smells, tastes of the place and time. The characters are fully rounded, and their dilemmas all too real. The different views of the world are depicted with a light sensitive touch, so we understand each person in turn, and each earns his or her share of sympathy. One critic compares Sue Gee with 'early Iris Murdoch'. In many ways, I think this book is better than most of Murdoch's novels. Here we have real people, in a real world. The poetry and religion which are woven in (along with the music) are fully part of this world - one which stays with me after the novel is finished.
This was the first of Sue Gee's novels I had read; I immediately found and read all her others, all of which were enjoyable and compelling. This, though, her most recent, I thought by far the best. It's set on the Welsh borders and is notable for its evocation of the landscape, the seasons and the rigours of rural life. The main characters all live in or near a small village: Nesta, widowed in her early thirties; Edward, whose homosexual relationship with Rowland seems unlikely to flourish in this rural setting; Phoebe and her eccentric daughter Gillian, a poet; Phil, the young musician who befriends Nesta. The relationships are cleverly interconnected in a way that builds up all sorts of tensions. This is equally true of Sue Gee's earlier novels, but this one marks a change in her style, and a new confidence. THE HOURS OF THE NIGHT is completely engrossing and has some quite marvellous description, for example the scene where Edward, presiding over his first lambing, finds a ewe with a stillborn lamb. I look forward to Sue Gee's next novel.
This is a beautifully written book, with many layers. The descriptions of the changing seasons and the countryside in general are particularly evocative. I had some sympathy for all the characters (except Rowland), but I particularly liked Nesta and Edward. Gillian was a very complex character, and I actually found her quite unpleasant most of the time - not sure whether this was the author's intention. Overall, a very good read - only losing out on 5 stars because I didn't like all the poetry - I suppose it is considered an integral part of the book, but I skimmed through it all and still enjoyed it.
I picked this book up on a whim, liking the blurb on the back. It is one of the best analyses of country life that I have ever read in fiction. The story focuses on four main characters: Gillian, a sheltered poet who has never left the Welsh valley where she was born; Phoebe, her terse English mother, who expresses herself better in embroidery and gardening than in words; Nesta, a Londoner who has come to seek peace from her grief in teaching mentally handicapped children; and Edward, another newcomer to the valley, starting out as a farmer. The reader follows them throughout the course of the year. Love and friendship change Gillian's sheltered existence, while Edward finds that combining farming life and a long distance relationship is not exactly easy. Gee's descriptions of the country and rural life are intense and lyrical, while Gillian's poetry and pantheistic beliefs are woven throughout the novel as a underlying thread.
For anyone who wants a novel about the inner lives of people, what they believe and feel and think, this cannot be beaten.
An excellent novel and one to be recommended for the story writing and style. This author was unknown to me previously. I really enjoyed the characters, their interplay and each one's emotional story within the book was very different. So many vivid emotions and themes were portrayed - it was gripping. I belong to a local Book Group and this was our choice for April. Varied comments though from other readers.
A friend left this book behind when she holidayed with me and it was the first by Sue Gee I had read. it certainly won't be the last. I was drawn in from the first by her wonderful ability to empathise with the characters and have you live the story with them. Each person was totally believable and I didn't want the book to finish, buy it and wallow in a hugely enjoyable read.
A very original, highly memorable novel set on the Welsh borders. As in her later novel set in this part of the UK, 'The Mysteries of Glass', Gee's descriptions of landscape are particularly beautiful. The novel deals with several very unconventional people: Gillian, a talented, reclusive and possibly autistic poet, Edward, a London civil-servant turned sheep farmer, shy and slightly troubled by his own homosexuality and his feeling of 'not quite fitting in', Roland, Edward's ultra-confident lover, a famous singer, Phoebe, Gillian's mother, a talented gardener but a rather cold woman emotionally, Nesta, a carer for autistic and handicapped children, mourning the death of her husband, and Phil, a young Welsh composer. All these characters are believable and interesting, and Gee describes how they interrelate, and how their various relationships evolve with great skill. She vividly captures the working lives of Nesta (a staff member at Cadair, a home for autistic children in the valley), Edward and the two 'creative' artists Gillian and Phil, though Roland may occasionally drift slightly towards becoming a stereotype of the handsome but promiscuous artist (but then, quite a few people in Roland's world do tend to drift towards becoming cliches of the 'passionate artist!). If the novel has a fault, it is that Gillian's strangeness (possible autism), and the darker side of her relationship with Phoebe (a cold and ungiving mother, who admits on her deathbed that 'some people should not have children') is not explored in quite enough detail. I'm also not entirely sure how, with Gillian not working, she and Phoebe made a living. But these are tiny quibbles in what is a beautiful and original book, which well deserved the prize it won after publication.
Sue Gee was recommended to me by my aunt. I had never read any of her books before and absolutely loved this one! She writes in such beautiful detail that you can imagine yourself inside all the different settings. She also creates wonderful characters that you really feel you get to know well - some you love and others you can't stand, but that's what makes it so powerful. I will definitely be buying more of her books.