In darkness, late at night, a woman returns to her hotel to discover her usual maid has been replaced by a stranger. What begins as an icy exchange, born of weariness, becomes within minutes one of the most extraordinary encounters of her life. It will take her on a journey deep into her past and towards the fateful assignation that already awaits her on the other side of the night.
Set amid the elegance and sophistication of the Belle Époque, and the Gothic splendour of late Victorian England, ‘The Hours Before’ is a story of drama, mystery and romance, revealing a hidden world of vice and malevolence – but also a pathway of transformation and knowledge.
Robert Stephen Parry is a UK writer of adult historical fiction, bringing you stories from a wide range of time periods - from Tudor & Elizabethan, through 18th-century Georgian, right up to the era of Victorian England and the Belle Époque. Well researched and vivid historical settings combine with unusual elements of mystery, humour and romance.
On a lighter note, he has also collaborated recently with the distinguished avian writer, A.Robin, Esq. in providing the illustrations for the book 'The Magnificent British Garden Robin'.
Another great read by one of my favorite writers, Robert Parry. This book keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It is the story of a woman's desperate search for her daughter. Her daughter was reported to be dead among other dead members of an occultist group. The members' charred remains was discovered among the rubble of the building they were living in. Deborah Peters is the mother of Penelope, "Poppy" Peters.. Deborah Peters is the ex wife of Hugh Peters, a newspaper tycoon and she is a very well known and well loved clairvoyant Their only daughter, Poppy had recently left home to live with an occultist group that is focused on doomsday and preys on Europe's wealthiest citizens. When the bodies of some of this group were found, it was assumed that Poppy was one of the dead. Hugh accepts that his daughter is dead, but Deborah does not believe that Poppy died in the fire. Because of her clairvoyance she just knows deep within her soul that her beloved Poppy is still alive.
Hugh begins to make Deborah's life a living hell. He blames her for influencing Poppy to make bad choices. He makes vicious accusations and does his best to turn admirers against her. He goes as far as claiming that she is insane. With his influential power, he makes sure that there is something on every paper's front page on a daily basis. He even employs a particularly despicable reporter to follow her around. The reporter manages to always be around to take photo's of her for the newspapers when she is looking her worst. To make matters worse, Deborah is also betrayed by her best friend, because she marries Hugh. Deborah eventually hits rock bottom.
Deborah is determined to find her daughter. Along the way she meets Herman "Manny" Grace, a magician. Manny is drawn to her and doesnt know why, but he gets deeply involved with finding Poppy. Over time Deborah runs out of things to sell and she becomes destitute and a mere shell of the wealthy lady she used to be. Just as Manny gets information about Poppy's possible whereabouts, he and Deborah are separated and he cannot get in touch with her. In an effort to find out if Poppy is at Castle Schloss Lethe, Manny makes the decision on his own to infiltrate the group and pretend to be a new follower. What he discovers is taking place in this remote place is shocking
This is an awesome Gothic Victorian tale. It is a nice, long read that will keep you engaged from the first page until the end. As you read this book you will have a hundred questions, but I assure you that you will not be disappointed with the answers. And, all of them will be answered.
Set during the Belle Époque era, The Hours Before is the story of Deborah Peters, a once-celebrated clairvoyant turned dejected society matron, who is bent on revenge and readying herself for a final assignation with her adversary. Readers take a backward look at the events leading up to the protagonist’s current wretched state, and uncover the step-by-step truth of her daughter’s mysterious disappearance and possible demise.
Penelope Peters, an English twenty-something student studying in Europe, is caught up in an occultist group focused on turn-of-the-century doomsday. Her father, Hugh Peters, is the head of a popular gossip newspaper which has of late determined to smear his ex-wife’s name and ruin her while covering up his daughter’s scandalous affiliations. Deborah, increasingly desperate financially and mentally, treks across the continent in search of clues. Meanwhile, in steps Herman “Manny” Grace, a gentleman magician, who takes a special interest in Deborah’s plight. Together they discover a most unusual occult society with disturbing connections to Europe’s rich and powerful.
This novel offers an interesting look at apocalyptic lore, as well as the inner workings of the media’s damage control during the time period. While Deborah is an eccentric, but admirable character, Manny overtakes the story with his eloquence, intelligence and heroism. Parry, as usual, has a proficient grasp on the era, introducing readers to the customs and society of the budding twentieth century. The Hours Before will delight those who enjoy mannered characters, uncommon plots and a slight bit of mystery, though, at 400+ pages, is not a quick read.
I was expecting great things from this book and was not disappointed. It is set in the Belle Epoque, and tells the story of Deborah Peters, 'The English Lady', and her search for her daughter who had apparently died in a fire orchestrated by a religious cult. Deborah is convinced that her daughter Poppy is still alive and devotes herself to finding out where she is. Deborah is assisted in her search for Poppy by a magician called Manny Grace, and together they travel around Europe searching for the truth. As with all Mr Parry's work, there is an element of the supernatural, which I love, and his use of the present tense immediately engages the reader in the story. I enjoyed this very much.
Robert is a gifted writer. The amount of detail that is put into his books is unbelievable. The text flows nicely and it's easy to understand. There are times though that I catch myself skimming through for dialogue because there is so much to read. This book in particular was a very long, exhaustive read for me. I did however enjoy the atmosphere and time period of it. It was well researched and the characters were likable. My heart was breaking for Deborah as she searched for her daughter. I admired her strength and courage. There were some unexpected twists that grabbed my attention and I enjoyed the ending. I have read all of Robert's books. They are flawless. :)
Loved this book! Always a big fan of the Belle Epoch and it really put me there by the descriptions. I could tell he did excellent research. I'll be reading more of his work. Thank you for the opportunity of winning and reading this enjoyable book.
So here we are. This was not an easy read. It was an interesting one, but not an easy one. It's told partially as a flashback and partially in the 3rd person present tense (I think/hope I have that right).
This is a complicated tale that, IMHO, is done in a "noir" type style. It's dark, and weird, and funny and a little bit surprising. My favorite Stephen Parry is and probably always will be The Virgin and the Crab, but he is such a fine writer and historian that these forays into other eras are fascinating. The history is always spot on and in this case, the sense of place is astounding - you feel transported. The characters are carefully and meticulously developed but all in all, it's the sense of humor in this that I appreciate most.