The Hours Before is a mysterious and exciting novel by Robert Stephen Parry. Set in the Belle Epoque, I was hooked from the first page. Late one night, Deborah Peters enters her hotel room to find her maid is gone and another woman is in her place. Deborah is already on a path of revenge, yet along with this unusual replacement in her room, the reader travels along a backward path to discover just who Deborah is and the dramatic course her life has followed.
Synopsis: In darkness, late at night, a woman returns to her hotel to discover her usual maid has been replaced by a stranger. What begins as an icy exchange, born of weariness, becomes within minutes one of the most extraordinary encounters of her life. It will take her on a journey deep into her past and towards the fateful assignation that already awaits her on the other side of the night.
Set amid the elegance and sophistication of the Belle Epoque, and the Gothic splendour of late Victorian England, ‘The Hours Before’ is a story of drama, mystery and romance, revealing a hidden world of vice and malevolence – but also a pathway of transformation and knowledge.
Robert Parry captures the elegance and the spirit of the Belle Epoque era. There is a huge amount of travel in this book, giving us a glimpse into the fact that the Belle Epoque was a widespread phenomenon, peace and optimism along with new discoveries and technology were taking Europe by storm. It was pre-war Art Nouveau and decadence. A golden age that looked even more golden in hindsight, especially after the ravages of the first World War.
Parry is allowing us to explore this period through Deborah Peters, her life and personal conflicts cleverly parallel the decadence of the time. Parry writes beautifully, and like any novel of beauty there is this juxtaposition of terror and sadness that adds to the unique flavor of the book, making it memorable.
Visit Robert’s blog, Endymion at Night.