Today I have another book that I would like to share with you guys. It’s a historical fiction titled The Sound of the Hours written by Karen Campbell.
The Sound of The Hours is the first book that I read by Karen Campbell and now I wonder why I didn’t discover this author before. All thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy and letting me know of Campbell. This doesn’t affect my opinion in any way.
In the hilltop town of Barga, everyone holds their breath. Even the bells fall silent. Everything Vittoria Guidi knows and loves is at risk. German troops occupy the mountains around her home, as America’s Buffalo Soldiers prepare to invade. As Vittoria’s country is torn in two, so is her conscience. Should she side with her Scots-Italian father or her Fascist mother? Should she do what she is told – or what she believes in? Frank Chapel, a young, black American soldier fighting with the Buffalo soldiers for a country that refuses him the vote, is unlike anyone Vittoria has ever met. In the chaos, they find each other – but can their growing love overcome prejudice and war?
The first thing that I noticed right away as I began reading the book was Campbell’s writing style. She has the kind of writing style that makes you live and breathe the same atmosphere as the characters do. It’s given that Karen invests more time in “showing” rather than telling the story but there are some downsides to the “Show and Tell” (did you catch the reference?) rule too. For instance, the length of the book. It’s INTIMIDATING.
If you’re familiar with James Joyce’s writing and have read ‘A Portrait of an Artist as A Young Man’ you would find that Karen adopts somewhat of a similar narrative technique, i.e., the stream of consciousness. In this type of writing, the reader gets to experience the experiences of the characters. Vittoria is the central character until Frank is introduced into the storyline. Vittoria is about to celebrate her eighteenth birthday when she sees all these clues here and there that her country is going to be torn apart really soon.
The backdrop of the story is the 1940s and features the Italian landscape in all its glory and is most probably set in Barga, Tuscany because there are numerous references of the Tuscan sun (it’s a 450 page book so, I have forgotten some of the details 😅).
The book largely has the WWII as the backdrop to the developing romance between Vita and Frank. Frank is a black soldier who joined the America’s Buffalo soldiers. He is constantly subjected to discrimination based on his colour, race and almost everything he does. Campbell has highlighted the racial and cultural discrimination throughout the novel. Campbell writes an interracial romance in a time when there were too many societal boundaries and interracial relationships were frowned upon.
Speaking about this book is difficult because there are so many elements to it. The setting of the novel definitely stood out to me. The narrative is just beautiful. I don’t have any words to express how I felt about Campbell’s writing. I haven’t read too many novels set around the World War II and ‘The Sounds of the Hours’ is probably the third book I read which is set around WWII. If you have read ‘The English Patient’, you would know that it features an Italian villa and has so many different characters against the backdrop of WWII. ‘The Sound of the Hours’ follows somewhat of a similar route except that the story focuses mainly on Frank and Vitta. There aren’t too many supporting characters who shine in the narrative and that is perhaps something I would have loved to see.
The length of the book seems to be a problem to some of the people who have reviewed the book. And, let me tell you, the reviews aren’t quite in favour of the novel. Some are even hating it because of the racial discrimination that the author has highlighted claiming that it wasn’t as “bad as the author made it look”. Oh how I wish it was actually true! Nonetheless, people are entitled to their own opinions but I don’t believe hating on the book for no grounded reasons is the route one should be opting for.
I am not going to lie but I was quite surprised that people were actually hating on this book. I mean, WHAT EVEN!
I can’t give away too much because spoilers are no fun! 😛 Go read this book and listen to the ‘Sound of the Hours’! You won’t be disappointed. 🌸
The book is lengthy for sure and it does take a while to get to the point but it is supposed to be this way. How are you going to depict the setting and create the atmosphere of WWII if you don’t draw it out? It’s a historical fiction and the historical part is in focus rather than the characters. I did feel that some events were unnecessarily stretched out and others which needed to be focused were skipped on. So, there’s that. But other than this I really loved reading this novel and you guys totally should too!
If you love historical fiction and slowly drawn out plots, this book is for you.
Have you read any historical fiction? Do you have any recommendations for me? What do you think of this genre? Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below 🌸
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6 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: ‘SOUND OF THE HOURS’ BY KAREN CAMPBELL”
This is a lovely review, Sohinee. I enjoyed your parallel with James Joyce.
I love history, can relate to this book.
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Thank you so much, Patricia! I couldn’t help remembering about ‘A Portrait’ while I was reading this book. I found the writing style to be quite similar and let’s just say that I was happy with the discovery (I many have been incorrect though 😅). Anyways, do you have recommendations of books set around WWII other than ‘English Patient’?
Great, well-balanced review! I don’t tend to go for much modern historical fiction (I prefer medieval), but Suite Française really stayed in my mind as being one of the classics that needed to be read.
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Thank you, Nicola ☺. Same here, I have to say that modern historical fiction seems a bit too modernised, perhaps? I’ll check out Suite Française. Thank you for letting me know about it!
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I haven’t read historical fiction in some time, especially more modern ones but I really liked your review and might check this one out.
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I haven’t read historical fiction in a long time. Reading this book was a great change for me. You should definitely check it out!