By: Alice Hoffman
Narrator: Jessie Mueller
Simon & Schuster Audio
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 08/15/2023
My Rating: 4 Stars ARC)
From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and the Practical Magic series comes an enchanting novel about love, heartbreak, self-discovery, and the enduring magic of books.
One brilliant June day when Mia Jacob can no longer see a way to survive, the power of words saves her. The Scarlet Letter was written almost two hundred years earlier, but it seems to tell the story of Mia’s mother, Ivy, and their life inside the Community—an oppressive cult in western Massachusetts where contact with the outside world is forbidden, and books are considered evil. But how could this be? How could Nathaniel Hawthorne have so perfectly captured the pain and loss that Mia carries inside her?
Through a journey of heartbreak, love, and time, Mia must abandon the rules she was raised with at the Community. As she does, she realizes that reading can transport you to other worlds or bring them to you, and that readers and writers affect one another in mysterious ways. She learns that time is more fluid than she can imagine, and that love is stronger than any chains that bind you.
As a girl Mia fell in love with a book. Now as a young woman she falls in love with a brilliant writer as she makes her way back in time. But what if Nathaniel Hawthorne never wrote The Scarlet Letter? And what if Mia Jacob never found it on the day she planned to die?
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”
This is the story of one woman’s dream. For a little while it came true.
The queen of magical realism, Alice Hoffman, returns following The Bookstore Sisters (5 stars) with an enchanting tale, THE INVISIBLE HOUR —a woman and her daughter in a commune find comfort in books, magical storytelling, a mystical journey, and time travel with a literary twist.
Ivy Jacob's parents are unhappy about her teen pregnancy, and she has few options—she runs from Boston to Western Massachusetts to The Community, a modern-day cult. She gives birth to Mia and marries the group's controlling leader, Joel, when Mia is three months old. The rules are strict, and members are branded with letters. There is to be no contact with the outside world.
At age 16, Mia secretly takes out books from a nearby library (forbidden in The Community). She wants to escape and tries to get her mom to do so.
The Scarlet Letter was written almost two hundred years earlier. Still, it seems to tell the story of Mia’s mother, Ivy, and their life inside the Community—where contact with the outside world is forbidden, and books are considered evil. But how could this be? How could Nathaniel Hawthorne have so perfectly captured the pain and loss that Mia carries inside her?
Mia becomes obsessed with The Scarlet Letter (her favorite) after finding a first edition mysteriously inscribed, To Mia. She escapes the Community. Under the instruction of Constance Allen and Sarah Mott, a loving couple of lesbian librarians in Concord (where Hawthorne is buried), she later becomes a librarian, but Joel is still out there; the evil community leader continues to hunt and taunt her.
One day, while visiting Hawthorne’s grave, she wishes to meet the author. Mia finds solace and inspiration in a hidden book, The Scarlet Letter, which empowers her to shape her future. From alternating POV— Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writing life in the mid-19th century and a series of time-traveling twists with the inspiration for The Scarlet Letter.
We jump to time traveling back to 1837 Salem with Hawthorne, a struggling writer. What happens next? Mia learns that time is more fluid than she can imagine and that love is stronger than any chains that bind you.
As a girl, Mia fell in love with a book. Now as a young woman, she falls in love with a brilliant writer as she makes her way back in time. But what if Nathaniel Hawthorne never wrote The Scarlet Letter? And what if Mia Jacob never found it on the day she planned to die? A journey of discovery. The book takes a drastic turn about halfway when it turns to time travel.
A book within a book, THE INVISIBLE HOUR is captivating!
A remarkable mix of literary, magical realism, fantasy, time travel, and the love of books. From themes of survival, family, a mother's love, choices, the empowerment of women, the love of reading, and the joy of storytelling.
Thanks to Atria Books for a gifted ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
My Rating: 4 Stars
Pub Date: Aug 15, 2023
I was immediately immersed in The Invisible Hour. It’s a wonderful story of love and growth, but it’s also a narrative engine of great power. Alice Hoffman is wonderful on stories and writing."
— Stephen King, New York Times bestselling author of FAIRYTALE
What a thrill to discover Nathaniel Hawthorne in the pages of Alice Hoffman’s exquisite new novel, The Invisible Hour! And what delight to experience the melding, across the centuries, of two prodigious American literary imaginations—Hoffman’s and Hawthorne’s—in this redemptive tale of daughters and mothers and one true love for a man and his book.
—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Peabody Sisters, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast
"Alice Hoffman's The Invisible Hour is a rich, immersive, magical reading experience. This beautiful novel is about the stories women tell each other and the ones that save us, about the price and peril of motherhood, and the difficulties women have faced throughout history in controlling their own fates. Alice Hoffman, the reigning queen of magical realism, takes her readers on a fantastic, mystical journey that celebrates the joy and power of reading and dares to believe in the impossible."
—Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Four Winds
"The incomparable Alice Hoffman has written a transcendent novel that will stay with you all of your reading life. Ivy Jacob is broken beyond repair when she enters a community without books. Soon, her daughter Mia is born into the same world, her fate is also sealed, until the girl steals away and finds respite in a forbidden library. As Mia reads, she disappears into the story as readers do and finds herself there, in a place and time that will unlock her destiny. The Invisible Hour is an inventive yet practical fairytale where the prince is Nathaniel Hawthorne, freedom is love and books are our salvation. And frankly, when that book is written by Alice Hoffman, we be truly redeemed."
—Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Left Undone
About the Author
Photo Credit: Alyssa Peek
Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Book of Magic, Magic Lessons, The World That We Knew, Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic (a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick), the Oprah’s Book Club Selection Here on Earth, The Red Garden, The Dovekeepers, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, The Marriage of Opposites, and Faithful. She lives near Boston. WEBSITE