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.
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Wally Lamb's two previous novels, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, struck a chord with readers. They responded to the intensely introspective nature of the books, and to their lively narrative styles and biting humor. One critic called Wally Lamb a "modern-day Dostoyevsky," whose characters struggle not only with their respective pasts, but with a "mocking, sadistic God" in whom they don't believe but to whom they turn, nevertheless, in times of trouble (New York Times).
In his new novel, The Hour I First Believed, Lamb travels well beyond his earlier work and embodies in his fiction myth, psychology, family history stretching back many generations, and the questions of faith that lie at the heart of everyday life. The result is an extraordinary tour de force, at once a meditation on the human condition and an unflinching yet compassionate evocation of character.
When forty-seven-year-old high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke. But Maureen finds herself in the school library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. Caelum and Maureen flee Colorado and return to an illusion of safety at the Quirk family farm in Three Rivers. But the effects of chaos are not so easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.
While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of old diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family's house. The colorful and intriguing story they recount spans five generations of Quirk family ancestors, from the Civil War era to Caelum's own troubled childhood. Piece by piece, Caelum reconstructs the lives of the women and men whose legacy he bears. Unimaginable secrets emerge; long-buried fear, anger, guilt, and grief rise to the surface.
As Caelum grapples with unexpected and confounding revelations from the past, he also struggles to fashion a future out of the ashes of tragedy. His personal quest for meaning and faith becomes a mythic journey that is at the same time quintessentially contemporary—and American.
The Hour I First Believed is a profound and heart-rending work of fiction. Wally Lamb proves himself a virtuoso storyteller, assembling a variety of voices and an ensemble of characters rich enough to evoke all of humanity.
From the Author: Wally Lamb's Playlist for The Hour I First Believed
I’m often asked what novels by other authors I 'm reading when I’m writing one of my own. The better question is: What and who am I listening to? I’m pleased to share many of the tunes, recognizable and obscure, that helped me write Part I, "Butterfly" of my novel, The Hour I First Believed. I hope you enjoy them.1. "Gloria," by Van Morrison from The Sopranos - Peppers and Eggs: Music from the HBO Series (Morrison) Caelum saves a slot for Van the Man in his list of “Greatest Songs of the Rock Era.” Morrison had this hit with the band Them in 1964, the year Caelum was 13.
Praise for The Hour I First Believed
“Lamb...has delivered a tour de force, his best yet. A”
“Lamb, a maestro of orchestrating emotion . . . knows how to make his fans’ hearts sing.”
“A page-turner... Lamb remains a storyteller at the top of his game.”
“A soaring novel as amazingly graceful as the classic hymn that provides the title”
“Wally Lamb is a remarkable talent.”
“Every character is rendered with vivid, utterly convincing depth....a heck of a page-turner.”
--Dallas Morning News
“[Lamb’s] pacing is superb: Sections of the story expand to accommodate a mix of characters, yet scenes don’t linger overlong.”
--Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Lamb has crafted another affecting, engrossing tome about complicated, interesting characters.”
--Minneapolis Star Tribune
“…too compelling to put down…a richly textured story...”
--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Lamb does an extraordinary job narrating some of the most terrifying tragedies of the past 10 years....an epic journey. Grade: A.”
--Rocky Mountain News
“When you put Lamb’s newest novel down, it will be reluctantly. It’s that good.”
"When you put Lamb's newest novel down, it will be reluctantly. It's that good."
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Book Description Harper, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. New book. May have light shelf wear. Bookseller Inventory # BK0102304
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Book Description Harper, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. First Edition, First Printing, Full number-line to # 1. (Harper, 2008) **New Book** ** Unread** Black 1/4 over black textured boards are As New, bright, with Sharp corners. Spine is As New, uncreased, book never opened. Pages are As New, with no writing, no folding. Dust Jacket is As New, Very, Very, Nice! Price intact. Protected in a clear archival cover. Ships in a well padded box with free tracking; smoke and odor free. Bookseller Inventory # HB2477
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Book Description HarperCollinsPublishers (Harper Collins), NY, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. Stated first edition and the number line on the copyright page ends in 1. 740 page hardcover. "When forty-seven-year-old high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April, 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke. But Maureen finds herself in the school library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma.(This book) is a profound and heartrending work of fiction. Wally Lamb proves himself a virtuoso storyteller, assembling a variety of voices and an ensemble of characters rich enough to evoke all of humanity." New, unread copy: spine square/some bumping at heel else the book is perfect (pages white) with NO markings throughout. The dj has a TINY bit of bumping at heel of spine, one TINY dent on back else it's perfect, also, with no other flaws. NOT an ex-library, NOT a book club, NOT a remainder, dj NOT price-clipped ("$29.95"). New in New dj. Bookseller Inventory # 012077
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Book Description Harper, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0060393491
Book Description Harper, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. New Hardcover with dust jacket, clean, tight, unmarked, (Fine with Fine unclipped Dust Jacket), Harper, New York, 2008, First Edition, First Printing, Pictures are available on request. All orders are shipped by Kbooks on Mon, Wed & Fri USPS Media Mail for American orders and Canada Post for Canada bound orders (from Toronto). Overweight books (>1 kg) dispatched outside North America may require additional shipping charges. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000164121