Blog Tour: Blue Hour by Sarah Schmidt

She thinks of blue mountain, her favourite place. ‘We’re going somewhere where we can be safe.  We never have to come back here.’  

As the rest of the world lies sleeping, Eleanor straps her infant daughter, Amy, into the back of her car. This is the moment she knew must come, when they will walk out on her husband Leon and a marriage in ruins since his return from Vietnam. Together, she and Amy will journey to blue mountain, a place of enchantment and refuge that lit up Eleanor’s childhood.

As the car eats up the miles, so Eleanor’s mind dives back into her fractured relationship with her mother, Kitty. Kitty who asked for so much from life, from love, from family. Kitty who had battled so hard to prise her husband George out of the grip of war. Kitty, whose disapproving voice rings so loud in Eleanor’s head.

What I Thought:

I’ll state upfront that Blue Hour is a challenging read, but purely because Sarah Schmidt is able to vividly create a family where disappointment, tragedy and violence are everyday.

We meet Eleanor as she flees her home with her infant daughter, constantly alert for the sight of headlights following her. She’s headed to her place of childhood safety and, as she drives, she examines her life with her mother, Kitty.

When we meet Kitty, she is young, about to start her life as a nurse and away from her overtly religious parents, but is a life full of excitement and adventure on the cards for Kitty?

As we read, we discover that, while Eleanor and Kitty have a combative relationship, there are many parallels between their lives. Eleanor has set out in life determined not to become like her mother, but in her marriage to a man adversely affected by the Vietnam war, she has become exactly like her mother whose husband suffered periods of poor mental health due to his service in WW2.

There should definitely be content warnings on the sections dealing with PTSD and domestic violence, as they really pull no punches, but having said this, it is a must-read as, while the male characters and their trauma come to the fore, the women and their much quieter trauma are there, simmering in the background.

My overall view of this book was that it brilliantly conveys the good and the bad in each of the characters. Kitty is quite likeable in some ways, but is an absolute tyrant in others. Although she has gone through things to make her this way, she does have to face up to the fact that it is mainly her own decisions that have put her where she is. Similarly, Eleanor’s life is guided by her need to make her mother love her – it’s not until too late that she realises that the decisions she has made because of this have set her life on an inevitable path.

It’s been hard to review this book as it’s something that really has to be experienced – there’s a sickening feeling towards the end at some of the reveals that you just can’t know unless you read it. It’s definitely a book that you should go back and read more than once, as what is revealed will give you a whole new impression of the book.

As I said, it’s a complex and challenging read, but all the more rewarding for that.

Blue Hour is published by Tinder Press.

About the Author:

Sarah Schmidt is the acclaimed author of See What I Have Done, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and won the AIBA Literary Fiction of the Year 2018. She lives in Melbourne where she works as a librarian.

You can follow her at https://sarahschmidt.org/ and on Twitter @ikillnovel.

This post is part of a blog tour, celebrating the publication of Blue Hour. For more reviews and exclusive content, check out the other fantastic bloggers taking part below:

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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