Below is my review for the Wonderful #ThreeHours book by Rosamund Lupton
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I adored this book, and if you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?
See you all on the Sofa!
Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.
In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. From the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.
Three Hours, by one of my favourite writers, Rosamund Lupton, is definitely going to feaure on many bloggers’ #BestReadsOf2020 lists and it’s only bloody January! – it’s not only a wonderfully written thriller that keeps you up far too late trying to anticipate what will happen next – it’s also a timely reminder of some extremely pertinent issues and a beautifully written piece of contemporary fiction to boot. I am absolutely not kidding on this one – if you haven’t read it yet, what on earth are you waiting for? I’d like to thank Penguin’s Ellie Hudson for inviting me onto the tour and it’s certainly a privilege to be kicking the tour off on its very first day when it’s a book that you’ve loved as much as this one…
Reading this novel in Dunblane of all places was extremely resonant for me – there were so many parallels that I found it almost disconcerting at times and I think that this is one of the reasons why I feel that the novel has such a huge impact on me. Three Hours takes place in another desirable area, that should be a safe haven for young people: a middle-class school in the gorgeous countryside of Somerset. The action unfolds across three hours in the life of the school, allowing us an insight into the experience through the eyes of the parents, teachers and students whilst they are trapped in a blizzard and a catastrophe begins to unfold.
The situation soon begins to escalate. After the headmaster is shot, some senior students attempt to save him and try valiantly to form a blockade of library books to keep themselves safe from danger. Meanwhile, in the drama studio, a rehearsal of Macbeth continues in the middle of all the trauma and confusion and these Shakespearean themes of bloodshed and betrayal resonate across this entire novel in an intelligent and thought provoking way. The entire school community is thrown into chaos as the individual groups in isolation struggle to come to terms with what is unfolding and try hard to support one another through an entirely terrifying situation. I could not put this book down and found myself entirely lost in its narrative as I got so involved with the characters and wanted to know what would befall them.
Because this novel is told from three entirely different narrative viewpoints, we get to see the horror unfold from three completely different perspectives: a police psychologist who has to try and fathom what might drive someone to behave in this way; the anxiously waiting parents who are desperate to have news about their children and two Syrian refugees who have travelled thousands of miles to escape bloodshed and trauma only for it to recur in the rural English countryside.
I think it’s difficult to live in Dunblane and not feel profoundly moved by this novel. School shootings like Dunblane and Columbine sear themselves onto the collective memories of communities like ours and mean that reading about them can be hard. Books like this make that so much easier as the beauty of the prose eclipses the challenging subject matter. It is indeed a terrifying world we live in and Lupton does not shy away from that fact, it is definitely a read that will make you think whether you think you know all there is to now about radicalisation or the way that commmunities recover from atrocities like this – this book will make you see these things afresh and rethink some of your preconceived ideas and opinions.
Three Hours is definitely one of those novels that stays with you long after closing its final page and one that I will definitely be recommending to my friends – it packs a powerful punch and never lets up in the way it wholly absorbs you – right up until the final few pages. I can’t wait to see what Rosamund Lupton does next. I’m a sucker for a fantastically written novel that really makes you think as well as engaging you emotionally and Three Hours satisfies on all of these scores. I heartily recommend it for whiling away a long dreich winter afternoon by the fire. Away and treat yourself – You’ll thank me for it. Buy yourself a copy here and tell everyone else that you’ve already found them their read of the year 2020!
Writer On The Shelf
Rosamund Lupton’s debut novel Sister, was a BBC Radio 4 “Book at Bedtime”, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, winner of the Strand Magazine critics award and the Richard and Judy Bookclub Readers’ Choice Award. Her next two books – Afterwards and The Quality of Silence were Sunday Times bestsellers.
Her books have been published in over thirty languages.