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The Hour I First Believed


The Hour I First Believed Cover

ISBN13: 9780060393496
ISBN10: 0060393491
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Wally Lamb's two previous novels, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, struck a chord with readers. They responded to the intensely introspective nature of the books, and to their lively narrative styles and biting humor. One critic called Wally Lamb "a modern-day Dostoyevsky, whose characters struggle not only with their respective pasts, but with a mocking, sadistic God in whom they don't believe but to whom they turn, nevertheless, in times of trouble" (New York Times).

In his new novel, The Hour I First Believed, Lamb travels well beyond his earlier work and embodies in his fiction myth, psychology, family history stretching back many generations, and the questions of faith that lie at the heart of everyday life. The result is an extraordinary tour de force, at once a meditation on the human condition and an unflinching yet compassionate evocation of character.

When forty-seven-year-old high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke. But Maureen finds herself in the school library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. Caelum and Maureen flee Colorado and return to an illusion of safety at the Quirk family farm in Three Rivers. But the effects of chaos are not so easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.

While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of old diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family's house. The colorful and intriguing story they recount spans five generations of Quirk family ancestors, from the Civil War era to Caelum's own troubled childhood. Piece by piece, Caelum reconstructs the lives of the women and men whose legacy he bears. Unimaginable secrets emerge; long-buried fear, anger, guilt, and grief rise to the surface.

As Caelum grapples with unexpected and confounding revelations from the past, he also struggles to fashion a future out of the ashes of tragedy. His personal quest for meaning and faith becomes a mythic journey that is at the same time quintessentially contemporary — and American.

The Hour I First Believed is a profound and heart-rending work of fiction. Wally Lamb proves himself a virtuoso storyteller, assembling a variety of voices and an ensemble of characters rich enough to evoke all of humanity.


A great story is buried in Wally Lamb's avalanche of a novel, "The Hour I First Believed," but only the most determined readers will manage to dig it out. The author — twice blessed by Oprah, for "She's Come Undone" and "I Know This Much Is True" — can be a captivating storyteller, and he has built this story on one of the most shocking acts of violence in modern history. Sadly, though, his new novel... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)


"[A] tour de force. The Hour I First Believed is his best yet. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly


The #1 New York Times-bestselling author and two-time Oprah's Book Club pick delivers his first novel in over a decade — an extraordinary work of prodigious scope and ambition that explores the consequences of violent events, and the chaos that ensues.

About the Author

The author of the number one New York Times bestsellers She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb still contributes time as a volunteer facilitator at the York Correctional Institution. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Christine.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

LynnATL, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by LynnATL)
Destine to become an American classic. Beautifully written with engrossing characters.
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Denise Barnett, September 25, 2009 (view all comments by Denise Barnett)
I love Wally Lamb and this book did not disappoint. Very heart-breaking but a true testament to our inate ability to survive the hardships of life. It is a story within a story that Mr Lamb created from Columbine High School to the Civil War. Sounds strange but it is honestly a great book.
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Deborah Fochler, February 8, 2009 (view all comments by Deborah Fochler)
This is not a pleasant subject matter. It is not an easy story to read but it will grab and touch you in ways you cant imagine. Wally Lamb's other books were wonderful - this one is GREAT. It is disturbing, sad, horrifying yet reaffirms our determination to survive the unthinkable. And while Columbine happened in real life it only makes this book more ...more a part of our lives and even more heart-tugging and sad. But, this author is a great story teller and I predict a movie will be made from this book before too long.
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(3 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

A Novel
Lamb, Wally
by Wally Lamb
Columbine High School Massacre, Littleton, Co
Domestic fiction
Psychological fiction
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9 x 6 x 1.64259 in 35.92 oz

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The Hour I First Believed Used Hardcover
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Product details 752 pages Harper - English 9780060393496 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[A] tour de force. The Hour I First Believed is his best yet. (Grade: A)"
"Synopsis" by , The #1 New York Times-bestselling author and two-time Oprah's Book Club pick delivers his first novel in over a decade — an extraordinary work of prodigious scope and ambition that explores the consequences of violent events, and the chaos that ensues.
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