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The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey
Historical fiction

The Glittering Hour

by Iona Grey

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Quick take

A love story that exposes 1920s high-society glamour for its haunting war-time memories and crushing family pressure.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance

    Romance

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_ForbiddenLove

    Forbidden love

Synopsis

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina's orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what's safe over what's right.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Glittering Hour.
The Glittering Hour

Prologue

The End

February 1926

The February dawn crept in slowly, apologetically, as if it sensed how unwelcome it was. The room came into focus in increments, like a photograph developing.

But the numerous images that had lined the walls were gone now, like everything else. The room—never lavishly furnished—had been stripped back to impersonal functionality: a scarred table, a flimsy bentwood chair. A canvas kitbag was propped against the table leg. Her gaze flinched away from it.

She missed the faces on the walls. He photographed strangers: the poor and the dispossessed, the wounded and the mad, capturing dignity in their distress. Suffering gave people a natural nobility, he said, though she knew it was pointless to hope it might do the same for her. She had chosen the coward’s way out. There would be no honour in her pain.

He lay behind her, the way they naturally fitted together, his chest against her back, his hard thighs tucked beneath her knees. She couldn’t see his face but she knew he was awake and, like her, was watching the treacherous daylight gather. Across the city it would be stealing into another room, stretching out across an empty bed, touching the snowy silk folds of the wedding dress hanging on the wardrobe.

She had to go. Before the world woke up properly. Before her absence was discovered and the alarm was raised.

She turned to him for one last time.

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Why I love it

"You're so scared of death that you're meeting it halfway.”

How much I love a book is directly proportional to how hard it can wrench my heart. As such, The Glittering Hour dazzles on my 2019 favorites list—I solidly sobbed my way through the last third of it. I hadn’t seen it coming; the book builds gradually, and the quiet poignancies and understated elegance of the prose snuck up on me, then pounced at the twist.

Selina Lennox is young, aristocratic, beautiful, and living it up in 1920s London. Most of all, she is afraid. When a dead cat makes her cross paths with Lawrence Weston, a talented but impoverished photographer, their connection is instant. Lawrence's keen eye looks past the glitter, and during their stolen hours, attraction grows into the kind of love you can never fully shake again. But while the position of the upper classes is crumbling in step with the walls of their damp mansions, the old etiquette persists, and eventually, Selina has to choose between her heart and her head.

The Glittering Hour feels drenched in longing: for loved ones who are gone, for now fading pre-war glory, for permanency amid the fragility we must navigate every day. It forms the backdrop for one of my favorite conundrums: how to square a rare, raw passion with the ever-present desire for safety—including the safety of your heart. Iona Grey asks and answers with delicate and evocative lines sure to pull you in, too.

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Member ratings (7,701)

  • Heather E.

    Albion , NY

    I’m not gonna lie, this book ripped my heart into pieces. That’s the mark of a brilliant author though, isn’t it? To make you feel that deeply. Whether I was smiling or crying, I could’t put it down.

  • kymberly i.

    Los Angeles, CA

    Didn’t think I would like it but I loved it from beginning to end I fell in love with all the characters I laughed I cried I wish I was in that time. I didn’t want it to end. Iona Grey is my new fave

  • Kirstyn W.

    Conway, SC

    I absolutely ADORED this book. One I will read again and again. It made me laugh, cry, feel angry, all of the emotions. I was unsure when I picked it but I’m so glad I did. Read it, you won’t be sorry

  • Elizabeth B.

    San Diego, CA

    This book instantly pulled me i. I have never cried so hard finishing a book. It is absolutely beautiful and thought provoking. A beautiful and devastating love story most people can relate to in someway

  • Lisa M.

    Tampa, FL

    This story is so beautiful & so sad. I couldn’t stop crying towards the end, but I think that also marks how good the author is. You feel it & want the outcome to be different, but it came full circle

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