The Hours Before Dawn

The Hours Before Dawn

by Celia Fremlin

This novel, one of the Virago Crime Classics, combines humour with a look at the danger and suspense in the tyranny of motherhood. It also explores the redeeming power of love.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Mystery
  • Rating: 3.80
  • Pages: 216
  • Publish Date: December 1st 1996 by Virago Press (UK)
  • Isbn10: 1860492231
  • Isbn13: 9781860492235

What People Think about "The Hours Before Dawn"

The Hours Before Dawn is all the more authentic for it and whilst I'm sure if I read other such books written in the same time they may take on the same blur of repetitiveness for the moment I'm relishing in the unusual and original storytelling technique. I loved how Celia Fremlin builds the family relationships- Louise and her husband have a strong, solid marriage (another breath of fresh air) , he is useless not because of a lack of care and affection for his wife, but because of the time he lived in where more traditional roles were the norm.

What if Louise's growing fears about the family's new lodger, who seems to share all of her husband's interests, are real? As Louise grows increasingly delirious from lack of sleep, the novel blurs the lines between dreams and reality. Louises frustration with her husband, her neighbours, her children and herself felt entirely real and palpable to me. Its maybe not as fast-paced as more recent domestic thrillers, but I thought the rather slow pacing worked really well to convey Louises unease and confusion.

I liked the writing, and the build up of dread that something bad was going to happen.

Cease, in fact, to be a person at all, and become merely a labour-saving gadget around the house?" Domestic noir, when done well, is one of my favourite genres, one that has the potential to cut especially deep when the dangers lurking are those surrounding us in our daily lives. Here we have Louise, a young mother of two small children and a new baby, who struggles through her days in a fog of sleep deprivation from having to tend to her son several times per night. Her husband, who returns from work expecting a cooked dinner, a clean house and well behaved children, also demands that he the man of the house get a good night sleep, which sees Louise feed her baby downstairs in the kitchen or laundry for fear of waking him. Everyone seems genuine and relatable, from the busybody neighbour next door who regularly complains about the childrens noise, to the friend who imposes on Louise to do her favours (which she never returns), and lots of the other side characters who lend a dimension to the story that showcases Fremlins skill as a writer.

He cries incessantly so that by the time he is just a few months old, Louise is so sleep deprived she moves through her daily housewifery duties in a daze. Mr Henderson is a typical 50s husband who wants his dinner on time and thinks his wife should be able to quiet that baby so he can sleep at night.

No matter what she tries Michael doesnt sleep and now Louise is exhausted beyond imagining. On paper Veras the perfect tenant, a single, classics teacher at the local grammar school, with an impeccable background and a surprising rapport with Mark. I thought Louise was an incredibly well-drawn, engaging character, and I was equally fascinated by the detailed representation of domestic life in the late 50s.

As relevant and powerful as when it was originally published, Fremlins insightful portrayal of relationships and a mother struggling as she caters to the demands of her eight and six-year-old daughters, Margery and Harriet, a howling seven-month-old baby Michael and complaining husband, Mark are unerringly accurate. Brushed aside by the strident Miss Brandon with her vague background, dismissive answers and scant possessions, Louise and Mark both have an odd sense of recognition about their new lodger. As Mark loses patience and becomes frustrated by a scatty and suspicious Louise yet fails to offer any help on the domestic front he seems to find ever more time to spend in the company of Miss Brandon, soon leading Louise to wonder about the true intentions behind her authoritative new lodger.

It tells the tale of harassed mother of 3 Louise Henderson whose main aim in life is to get a decent nights sleep, which is very unlikely due to her young babys penchant for crying all night long. I just loved this book. Past the Big Wheel which rose with strange dignity into the quiet sky And as well as all of that it had a pretty damn good plot too.

A story of a young overburdened mother, with a domestically useless husband, trying her best to multitask 1950s style, and presiding over nothing short of pandemonium in her home and in her head.

In 1985, Celia married Leslie Minchin, who died in 1999. Fremlin was an advocate of assisted suicide and euthanasia.