... an exceptional novel about choosing how to live amid powerful grief and true love. Iona Grey has written a moving story that makes readers feel bereft to leave Selena and Lawrence behind at the book’s end in the way that only the best novels can do. Grey’s eye for descriptive detail gives a sumptuousness to almost every scene, and the delicious recklessness of 1920s London comes alive on the page. She is also masterful at using flashbacks and letters to slowly tease out the influences and motivations of her characters—and those of an entire postwar generation ... For readers looking for a tremendously entertaining, emotionally charged story, look no further. The Glittering Hour is just the ticket.
... a deceptively bittersweet tale, a story of loss and discovery covered in flashes of riches and freedom that obscure its melancholy core ... As Alice pieces together what happened to her mother, so does the reader, and hints of the mystery are well balanced to add intrigue but not reveal the truth until it is time. The pacing works to craft a heartbreaking but ultimately positive tone that will hit many emotions. And while it is a love story in Selina’s past that we follow and mourn, it’s the relationship between Alice and her parents that takes center stage at the end. Recommended.
Grey’s novel hits familiar beats --- a penniless but handsome hero; a rich but dull suitor who is the more socially acceptable choice of a husband; an upper-crust English family slipping into insolvency ... But while the tear-jerking story is a touch predictable, The Glittering Hour excels at bringing the world of 1920s London to life.
... a blood-letter of a novel, lacerating the reader nonstop with its depressing plot twists. It’s one of those novels that’s well-written and has interesting characters, but as those characters all but go out of their way to make themselves miserable, the reader becomes annoyed with their choices ... has a great sense of history and character...But the plot – which car-crashes The Secret Garden into a general F. Scott Fitzgerald pastiche – never feels original enough to be distinct ... That’s not to say that Polly, Alice, Selina and Lawrence aren’t interesting. In fact, I honestly wished that we’d stayed in the present with Alice, because following her throughout her scavenger hunt adventure is more interesting than Selina and her cowardly aimlessness ... Sadly, the mystery of whom Selina will choose to marry is ruined about midway through the novel, leaving the reader to tap their fingers while they wait for the inevitable answer to the tangle in Selina’s portion of the book. The reason why she makes that choice feels designed by the author to make everyone miserable instead of feeling organic to the character’s needs ... puts forth an arguably good portrait of grief and mourning – but the plot twists one must endure to get there make it a struggle to enjoy.
... slow-building but dramatic ... Told in a series of extended flashbacks, their romance is vividly drawn and heart-wrenching. Together, Alice and the reader come to understand that Alice’s origins are not what they seem—but that’s not the only secret the family is keeping. The novel’s final twist is a devastating blow that more than makes up for some plodding plotting during the buildup. This sweeping history is sure to be a tearjerker.
Selina's choice of a passionless marriage to Rupert over life with her soul mate, Lawrence, is the fateful decision on which the novel turns, and her rationalizations will be a little too pat to satisfy most readers. Nor will readers be long baffled by Alice’s hunt—given the 1925 backstory, the solution to the puzzle is obvious almost from the start. But genuine surprises do await, even if they entail punishing Selina, after the manner of post-Code Hollywood melodrama, for her breach of class boundaries, disregard for propriety, and unladylike smoking and drinking. The characters verge on stereotypical although there are no true villains and only the domestics lack flaws, particularly Polly and Mr. Patterson, the gardener who introduces Alice to the redemptive joys of nature. However, Grey’s use of sensory detail, enlivening the most mundane of scenes, redeems this novel, too ... Flamboyantly written, if a little too conventionally peopled and plotted.