The Hour of Separation
Estelle is the headstrong daughter of Fleur, a Resistance legend who disappeared during the Great War, supposedly killed while helping Allied soldiers to escape.
Christa, an only child, longs to break free from the constraints of London suburbia, and fantasises about the ethereal Belgian heroine who saved her father.
When Estelle comes looking for the truth about the mother she believes deserted her, an intense friendship grows between the two young women. Estelle invites Christa to De Eikenhoeve, her family’s idyllic country estate. There, Christa encounters Estelle’s two brothers – brooding, tempestuous Robbe and dependable, golden-haired Pieter – and during that long hot summer, passions run high. When war breaks out Christa is forced to return home, but not before she has done something she will regret for the rest of her life.
Christa arrives back in England a changed woman, while Estelle decides to follow in her mother’s footsteps and join the Resistance. Little do they dream that Fleur was betrayed by someone close to them, and that the legacy of this betrayal will have heartbreaking consequences for them all.
A young girl called Christa Geering finds an old photograph wedged between the pages of a bible and her life shifts under the weight of this new discovery. In the photo, an elegant, enchanting woman looks out and instantly captures her attention. Her name is Fleur Cornelis-Faider and because of a single act of sacrifice and bravery, she saved Christa’s father and in doing do saved her own life. Inspired by this one woman and her rich legacy, she learns French and carefully pens a letter to Fleur’s family, voicing her gratitude and appreciation. In reply, Fleur’s daughter, Estelle, travels to Watford to face her mother’s past and discover for herself who she had really been before she died. Christa and Estelle form a close friendship over the ensuing days, both harbouring a curiosity for their parents’ pasts.
Estelle is searching for a better understanding of her mother, something that will enable her to draw a clearer portrait of the woman so many admire and love. Fleur was a big part of the Resistance and saved countless lives but Estelle knows there is more to her story than the bare facts she has been given. Fleur died when Estelle was just a baby and her brothers don’t like to speak of her. But Estelle is determined to find out who she truly was. Whilst she is in England, she finds some of the men her mother saved and is surprised by their reluctance to share their memories of her.
As a girl finding the photo of Fleur in the bible, sparked something in Christa and so when Estelle arrives on her doorstep years later, the moment holds a deep resonance for her. Estelle invites her to De Eikenhoeve, her family home in Belgium and Christa jumps at the chance. She loves her parents but feels shackled by the life that awaits her and meets the prospect of finding her way through a new world and discovering more about the woman she has idolised with excitement and joy. But as she and Estelle discover that there was so much more to Fleur, they also discover a seam of betrayal running through the past. And Christa’s perception of everything will once again shift.
The Hour Of Separation by Katharine McMahon is a tale about love, loss and the power of betrayal. Fabulous!
Emotional. Intriguing. Intense.
To purchase a copy of the book, you can follow the links below:
About Katharine McMahon
Katharine McMahon is the author of 10 novels, including the bestselling The Rose of Sebastopol, which was a Richard and Judy pick for 2007.
Her evolving theme is drawing astonishing women from the shadows, and revealing passionate and extraordinary lives, even at times when to be different and powerful risked everything if you were female. All her fictional characters have foundations in real historical characters.
She has experience as a teacher and trainer, and has been fortunate to serve on the Sentencing Council of England and Wales, and the Judicial Appointments Commission, as a magistrate. She has run Guardian Masterclasses on historical fiction, and has newly been appointed Education Projects Manager for the Royal Literary Fund.
She co-wrote a song, performed on Radio Four called Check-out Lil, and writes from a hut in her very small back garden.
Huge thanks to Becci Mansell and Rebecca Grey at Orion for my review copy!