This week I was kindly reminded by WordPress that it’s four years since WhatCathyReadNext was launched into the blogosphere. I thought I’d mark the occasion by revisiting the first book review I ever published on my blog, updated to reflect the current format of my reviews.
About the Book
Manolo Lualhati, a respected doctor in the Philippine countryside, believes his wife hides a secret. Prior to their marriage, he spied her wearing wings and flying to the stars with her sisters each evening. As Tala tries to keep her dangerous past from her new husband, Manolo begins questioning the gaps in her stories – and his suspicions push him even further from the truth.
The Hour of Daydreams, a contemporary reimagining of a Filipino folktale, weaves in the perspectives of Tala’s siblings, her new in-laws, and the all-seeing housekeeper while exploring trust, identity, and how myths can take root from the seeds of our most difficult truths.
Format: ebook (232 pages) Publisher: Forest Avenue Press
Publication date: 14th March 2017 Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
Find The Hour of Daydreams on Goodreads
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The author weaves fantasy and fable into the story of Tala and Manolo’s meeting and marriage. The writing has a lyrical, fairytale quality which at times is mesmerising – “He began walking along the lip of the water, where it saturated the sand with kisses” – and the author has some imaginative metaphors/similes – “They talked rapidly and their conversation was like a dance; as one took the lead, the others were eager to follow. It was a meandering dance, circling from place to place…“.
However, at other times, the language was surprisingly ‘clunky’. “Cigarette in hand, he assessed the scene in front of him with some degree of calm” or “Your mother’s anguish invoked you from sleep, and we combined our efforts to pacify your discomfort.”
There are well-observed descriptions of everyday life, at the market or on the quayside, but I found some of the author’s extended metaphors, as in pretty much the whole of Chapter 6, baffling. The supporting characters are well-drawn and the importance of food and sharing communal meals is lovingly described. I enjoyed the story of the main characters but, for me, the fantasy element confused rather than enhanced the narrative.
I received an advance review copy courtesy of Forest Avenue Press via NetGalley.
In three words: Lyrical, imaginative, fantasy
About the Author
Renee Macalino Rutledge is the author of The Hour of Daydreams, a literary fiction novel that has been dubbed “essential reading” by Literary Mama, “one of 24 books to get excited for in 2017” by The Oregonian, and a “captivating story of love and loss unlike any other” by Foreword Reviews.
Renee’s work has also been published in The Margins, ColorLines, Mutha Magazine, Ford City Anthology, Oakland Magazine, Literary Hub, Red Earth Review, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Necessary Fiction, Women Writers Women’s Books, The Tishman Review, and others. She lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she works as a nonfiction book editor and regularly explores the tidepools and redwoods with her family. (Photo/bio credit: Goodreads author profile)