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Three Hours

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The extraordinary new novel everyone is talking about from the Sunday Times best-selling author of Sister

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.


It is a morning's lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published January 9, 2020

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About the author

Rosamund Lupton

8 books1,869 followers


Thank you for visiting this bio. My books are not easy to slot into a particular genre, and you can usually be found under 'contemporary fiction', 'literary fiction', 'political thriller' and 'psychological thriller.' If you try one I hope you enjoy it.

From the publisher:

Three Hours was chosen by the Times as their thriller of the year. The Sunday Times called Three Hours 'a brilliant literary thriller...reminiscent of both Greek tragedy and Shakespeare’

Ruth Jones, author and actress, said 'It's gob-smackingly, heart-stoppingly, breath-holdingly brilliant.. the tension will blow your mind....'

Her debut novel, 'Sister' was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, a Sunday Times and New York Times best seller and the fastest selling debut in WHSmiths'history. Her next two books 'Afterwards' and 'The Quality of Silence' were also Sunday Times best sellers. Her novels have been translated into over thirty languages.

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5 stars
8,300 (46%)
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3 stars
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279 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,073 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,502 reviews24.5k followers
October 1, 2019
"And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself" (Rumi 1207-1273)

Rosamund Lupton begins this superb novel that could have been ripped from our troubled world's recent news headlines, with the above quote, for in the midst of the nightmare that descends on a rural Somerset school on a cold, dark and snowy November morning, teachers and children's lives are to be changed forever. Their courage, love, fortitude and sense of community rises to the surface as their innocence is shattered in the face of the worst of people riddled with the cancer of an all consuming hatred. Lupton drops the reader right slap bang into the middle of the terror of the school taken over by well armed gunmen, shooting the kind and compassionate Head, Matthew Marr, who is dragged into the library by students. It is the brave Rafi Burkhani, suffering PTSD, a casualty of war torn Syria, who recognises a small explosion in the wood as a bomb, informing the Head, driven by his love of his younger, emotionally damaged brother, Basi, and his need to save him and others.

Rafi's girlfriend, Hannah, does the best she can to care for Matthew, trapped with other students in the library. Jacintha, the English teacher is reading poetry with her class in her efforts to cope with the unfolding tragedy. The local police officer is shot at, forced to take cover at the gatehouse. Thinking his brother is safe, Rafi returns to danger to ensure Hannah too is safe. The pottery room, located in the woods, is the most vulnerable place, a gunman outside pointing his gun at the class. In the most secure place, the theatre, the drama teacher, Daphne, locks in her students and presides over the dress rehearsal of Macbeth in her fight for a degree of normalcy, a play that drips with echoes of their own current deadly realities. Macbeth, with its witches, murder of the innocents, death, tyranny and terror, where Birnam wood marches to Dunsinane. Anguished parents pray for their children, desperate for news, whilst some, who should know better, fan the flames of Islamaphobia.

In a bone chillingly atmospheric narrative that goes back and forth in time, Lupton illuminates the longest, darkest, three hours of the soul, where a school defined by the most liberal and tolerant of values is seen as the devil incarnate by those whose hearts burn with a malignant, sick hatred, where the mass killing of innocent children is viewed as acceptable collateral with their bombs in fairytales. Shot throughout the most terrifying of scenarios is hope, light, and solidarity, as people discover what they are willing to die for, what they are made of, and who they truly are. As Matthew Marr states, in the end it is all about love, it is all that matters. For example, the Deputy Head, Neil Forbright, afflicted with depression, taking heroic actions without any thought to his own safety and the incomparable Rafi, fighting his own demons to save those he loves. This is an unbelievably amazing and brilliant read, traumatic, so engrossing, unforgettable, and intense. Cannot recommend this highly enough. Thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC.
January 7, 2020
Imperiled
Rosamund Lupton is a gifted author that masterfully develops plots, where great characters portray human emotions and relationships in scenarios that test what it means to love and hate, to be fearful and brave, and how selfless and frightened people often excel in times of danger.

Three Hours is the story of a school campus being held hostage by a gunman with murderous intent. Unfortunately, a scenario that has played out for real in our society with shocking news coverage. Rosamund draws wonderful characters to personalise a glimpse of possible motivations, fears and actions under the headlines.

The school is a campus of multiple buildings located in woodlands on the Somerset coast and includes a junior school, a senior school, pottery building and a theatre. It has continued to grow from the 1920s adding new to old and now provides education to 14 years of student needs. Several teachers and students occupy each of the buildings and their stories are told with compelling fascination when threat and fear hang over their every move. The novel explores how different people react, some stepping forward in moments of courage and those that don’t.

The attacks start with a small explosion, and Rafi, a young refugee from Aleppo knows from experience exactly what it was. He informs the headmaster, Matthew Marr, and rushes to the junior school to evacuate the children and his younger brother, Basi. For many others, it began when the headmaster was shot in the head and foot. Dragged into the library by Hannah (Rafi’s girlfriend) and her fellow student, Mr Marr is incapacitated but fears what is happening in his school. As for the gunman:
“Everyone would realize, if they hadn’t already feared it, if they were a bit slow on the uptake, that their lives and stories weren’t their own; and all the different stories he’d set in motion would play out at the same time, the simultaneity generated by him.”
As the reports circulate using mobile phones, other teachers battle the fear and nerves to keep the children safe, including Daphne Epelsteiner, the 55 years old drama teacher, Neil Forbright the deputy head and Beth Alton, a worried parent.

The sense of concealed menace hangs like a dense fog over the school never knowing if the killer is going to step out of the mist and shoot someone. The staff try to occupy the children without conveying fear but their anxiety is palpable. Worse still there’s more than one gunman! Over three hours from 9:15 am to 12:15 pm the lives of the school’s staff, pupils and parents will change forever.

We often wonder what psychological impact events such as school shootings, or war-torn regions such as Aleppo, have on those that survive. Rafi was a wonderful character, expertly drawn and demonstrated the selfless love he had for his brother, Hannah and others. I loved the following quote from Rafi as he talks to Hannah, and it seems to resonate with multiple disorders, from depression to PTSD.
“ ‘I think that’s what mental illness is,’ he said. ‘I think it takes away the choice. You’re stuck being someone who isn’t even really you. And you should know that the not-really-me has PTSD and I’m genuinely weird in a psychotic way.”

This is an excellent book that tackles a difficult and sensitive subject with careful control. The ending ... well 😪! I would highly recommend this book and I’d like to thank Penguin Books for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,067 reviews38.1k followers
July 17, 2022
Oh no! I’m still breathing heavy! It’s stunningly hooking, terrifyingly growing on you and even though the high tension story building gave you nightmares and so many times you want to scream and say; “enough is enough”(as like most Americans say right now!!), taking breaks to clear your mind, you cannot put it down because you have to… correction: You need to see what’s gonna happen next.

3 hours: 180 minutes: 10,800 seconds! TICK TOCK! TICK TOCK!

We’re taking our first steps into the school located in Somerset woodlands and welcoming an ordinary school day: students in their classrooms: old school and new school mingled together: theater group is getting ready for the rehearsal of Macbeth, some of the children joining their pottery class as some of them are at the library.

In the meantime Hannah and Rafi running in the woods, hand-hand, they are in hurry because they don’t want to be late. It was freezing, the blizzard is about to come. Suddenly Rafi starts running faster because a noise blasted out: it was not a prank! It was not exhaust fumes! Rafi exactly knew what it was which sent him to the time spiral: the worst memories of his lifetime flashes before his eyes: the war times in Syria: those haunting days in Aleppo when his both parents were brutally killed! Now he has to go back because he is little brother Basi is at the school. He is his only family.
Rafi calls the headmaster to warn him something horrible is about to happen. His call occasionally starts amber alert and BANG! The gun blast breaks the silence. The school is already under the siege.

The police squad, tactical teams and helicopters get their position, circling around the school building. TV station cars, reporters follow them with the panicked and horrified parents want to know what is happening to their kids.
TICK TOCK! TICK TOCK! Your throat hurts! Your heart rate hits the roof! Your fists are clenched. Your knuckles are getting whiter. You breathe in and breathe out, getting tenser at each page.

The characterization development is amazing. They grow on you and you start scaring shittless if something happens to one of them. Will they survive? Will they escape from the hell without getting killed? TICK TOCK TICK TOCK! Real hero headmaster Matthew, those remarkably brave teachers who take care of the children even though they’re terrified but they restrain their own fears to support them kindly: dear Jacinta, dear Daphne.

And of course it’s impossible not to shed tears for Rafi and his little brother. They were already getting through hell and now they’re living another traumatizing experience but they still hold each other and gather their strengths to survive together.

This is heartbreaking, emotional but also soul crushing, phenomenal, extremely thought provoking debut novel. I have no chance to give less than 5 stars. I truly adored it but I wish I would read it in better mood. It shook me so bad! I need to consume gallons of hard liquor and frighten my neighbors with the flexibility of my vocal cords to get through this but I truly know this is one of the stories will resume haunting me for a long time.
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,857 reviews1,370 followers
January 6, 2020
This is an amazing book from an outstanding author. The start of the book is extremely dramatic and tense with students and teachers hiding in classrooms and the school theatre from gunmen and there are some superb images such as children piling books against the library door to prevent entry. This is every parents, teachers and students nightmare but the book goes deeper into issues that are so pertinent and relevant that from time to time I had to pause in the reading to reflect.

As well as the storyline of the emergency services swinging into action to save the people involved one of the most moving parts of the story concerns Rafi and his younger brother Basi who escape the horrors of Aleppo only to find themselves caught up in another horror. These two boys back story of the dangers they faced and their bravery in getting to the UK personalises the tragedy of Syria. Part of the story concerns rising Islamaphobia and the growth of the far right whipped up by media scare stories and important people on Twitter who frankly shouldn’t be and who should know better. The boys are delightful brave souls and the students and teachers in the school took them into their hearts. Despite everything that Rafi goes through in the story his overwhelming love for his little brother shines like a beacon.

There are some fantastic characters in the book - some of the teachers Matthew Marr the brave head and his equally brave deputy Neil, Daphne the drama teacher, Jacinta the English teacher who read beautiful poetry to her students to distract them, student Hannah and one of the mums, Beth. Daphne is rehearsing Macbeth with the students when the drama starts and I love the recurring use of the Scottish play which creates some of the most powerful images and the students see that the events in the play mirror events outside the theatre and the end of the book ‘we were Burnham Wood coming up the hill to Dunsinane, marching to the beat of three words’ is just such an example. That image will stay with me for a long time. Their bravery is humbling.

The story is fast paced, tense and shocking. The perpetrators motives are examined in detail and one of them is certainly a psychopath and a very tech savvy one at that. They are influenced by previous school tragedies, in particular Columbine. At times, you hold your breathe as the tension is palpable and towards the end it gets more shocking by the minute. The ending is particularly emotional but in reality the whole book should stir emotions. I think the author has raised issues we all need to be aware of and react to before it is too late. A brilliant read.

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
670 reviews1,027 followers
September 20, 2022
What a hard hitter this was!

A school shooting, but in the UK, not America.
We flip between numerous characters, from the students and teachers to the police officers and detectives hired to deal with the situation.

An explosion is heard from the woods behind the school, from there unravel a series of events including gunshots and further explosions.

But who are these shooters? What do they want? How did they get to this point?

So much ground is covered for a book that takes place only over 3 hours.
So many shocks and terrifying moments, a powerful and frightening read.
Profile Image for Deanna .
647 reviews12.4k followers
June 3, 2021

I read this at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, I didn't write my review right away and have no idea what happened to my notes.

Although this review may be short that doesn't mean I didn't love this book. I thought it was excellent. The story had me gripped right from the start. Filled with tension, I kept reading long into the night. I had to find out how things turned out.

This was an emotional and in many ways realistic read. The novel deals with relevant and important issues. It's well-written and is filled with many amazing characters.

Extremely thought-provoking. This would be great for buddy reads and book clubs.

This story has stayed and will continue to stay with me for a very long time.

This was my first Rosamund Lupton novel. I am positive that it won't be my last.
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,418 reviews531 followers
January 24, 2020
2.5 Stars rounded up to 3.
There is no doubt this is a well-written book that addresses relevant social and political issues. When I read the synopsis and the many positive reviews, it was a book I was anxious to read. Since it is not yet available in North America I ordered a paperback copy from overseas. I can understand why the book has gained so much praise, but I regret that I was disappointed.

A school in England is comprised of two main buildings. There is the Old School where classes are held for the older students and another building for children ages 4 to 10. One snowy day the school is under siege by at least one masked gunman inside the Old School and another shooting from a wooded area nearby. The first sign of attack is a device exploding in the woods. Some of the older students are barricaded within the library where the headmaster has been seriously wounded. The shooter can be heard pacing in the hallway outside. In the theatre, the drama teacher bravely distracts the students by proceeding with a rehearsal for Macbeth. Teachers are looking for a way to keep the younger ones unaware of the danger and lead them away from their building to safety. The snow is delaying police and paramedics, but they are on their way.

Powerful, heavy topics are described; the fear, the tension, and suspense, but I was unable to engage with the characters, the emotions, and heroic acts of courage. After a promising beginning, this was a dramatic, topical story that plodded along and fell flat for me. Instead of feeling the drama, I became a detached observer. So many characters and perspectives were introduced that it was confusing to recall who everyone was and where they were located. I was not feeling connected with the characters in the way I wanted to be. I read about the actions of various teachers, the unbelievable calm of most of the school children, the helplessness of their parents, and the police proceedings.
After a less than powerful and plodding narrative, it did become gripping towards the end.

The danger of rumours and speculation by news reporters, the radicalization of dissatisfied youth by white supremacists on social media, and self-serving tweets by politicians to influence their followers are now making our world a more dangerous place.
Profile Image for Peter Boyle.
474 reviews573 followers
February 2, 2020
I've just had a look at some of the media's reviews of Three Hours and I have to say I'm a bit baffled. "One of the most exhilarating reading experiences I've ever had", "This could be one one of the thrillers of the new decade... It is that good". I feel like I've been reading a different book entirely.

The story is set during three hours of a rural English school under siege. Gunmen storm the building early one morning and shoot the principal, injuring him seriously. The children scatter to hide from the attackers, while terrified teachers do their best to reassure and protect their pupils. Some of them hole up in the old theatre where they have been rehearsing Macbeth. Others are guided to a nearby beach after being alerted by Rafi, a Syrian student who noticed some unusual activity before the onslaught. This brave teenager is concerned for the safety of his younger brother Basi, who he has taken care of since they escaped Aleppo. Just who are these attackers, and what do they want? And will the police be able to act quickly enough to avert a major tragedy?

The plot felt quite familiar to me and held no major surprises, so I'm afraid I didn't find it as gripping as other reviewers. The identity of one of the shooters in particular seemed quite obvious from the beginning. And why does everybody have a low phone battery? Surely they would be close to full first thing in the morning. Also some of the Macbeth references felt quite forced, especially I suppose there is a commendable effort to tie the story into the xenophobia that has permeated modern society. But I have to say I'm pretty mystified by the effusive praise this novel has received.
Profile Image for Jess☺️.
448 reviews80 followers
February 10, 2020
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton is my first book by this author and my god what an emotional start.
I read this in 2 days with my heart either in my throat or my stomach it has so many up down moments ( I now know what an emotional rollercoaster is now 😢)
The story is just horrifying (a school under siege with children of all ages inside) but the character's in this book get stronger and you fall a little in love with them, you also feel like you're there on the sidelines cheering for them to make it.
I definitely recommend this but your going to end up needing a tissue 📖
Profile Image for Brenda.
3,973 reviews2,585 followers
January 4, 2020
Hannah and Rafi were holding hands as they hurried through the woods to their class – they didn’t want to be late. It was cold, and the light fall of snow worried Rafi – so much that he hurried away from Hannah without an explanation. He needed to get to his little brother, eight-year-old Basi, so his fears wouldn’t overcome him. The noise was unexpected; when Rafi saw it, it took him back to the bad times when his parents were murdered. He must get to Basi…

Students mingled between Old School and New School; their various classes drew them toward the classrooms. The rehearsal of Macbeth was that morning; the children in the pottery class with their teacher; the library would have other students working. But it was the call from Rafi to the headmaster that started the amber alert. Then the gunshot which meant red alert; police assembled with helicopters and tactical response teams – all controlled by two gunmen. Three hours of terror, uncertainty, courage and bravery.

Three Hours by the gifted Rosamund Lupton; a tense psychological thriller which had my heart racing while I flew through the pages. I’ve loved this author’s work – Sister, Afterwards, The Quality of Silence – this one hasn’t disappointed. Highly recommended.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for bookswithpaulette.
414 reviews168 followers
February 10, 2021
Love is the most powerful thing there is…

I read this book in one sitting I could not put it down. So beautifully written, the courage, love, compassion, vulnerability and sense of community in this book. It will be one of my favorite reads of this year.

The atmosphere in this book its dark and eerie. It’s a snowy November morning in the small mountainous town of Somerset. School is about to begin, when 16-year-old Rafi walking in school grounds with his younger brother Basi hears a bomb exploding. He is certain it is a bomb Rafi is suffering PTSD having fled Syria a year earlier with his younger brother to the UK. Rafi raises the alarm to Headmaster Matthew Marr the school immediately goes into lock-down as an amber alert is enforced.

The school is taken under siege, by masked men, gunfire has erupted. The teachers are quick to enforce lockdown and take cover with students inside the school as the masked gunmen pace up and down the hallways taunting and terrorizing them.

The siege takes place over three hours, it will all be over after three hours either way.
The book give us different POVs from student and teachers in separate locations throughout the school, giving us insight to what they are experiencing. We see the harrowing levels the teachers go to in protecting the children and the students the love, courage and compassion they show under horrific circumstances.

There is so much I loved about this book, Rafi and his love for his younger brother Basi the trauma they escaped and their heartbreaking journey to the UK. The selfless actions of Neil Forbright and the kind-hearted headmaster Mr Marr.

It is such an amazing book, its traumatic, emotive, engrossing and unforgettable.

Thank you for Penguin Random House and Rosamund Lupton for my copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Pauline.
720 reviews
April 25, 2019
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton was a book that I could not put down and read in one day.
A school in Somerset is under siege. There are masked gunmen on the premise and the headmaster has been shot. Groups of children and staff have barricaded themselves into classrooms. Emergency services and police can't get into the school and are trying to negotiate with the gunmen. There is a snowstorm outside and panicked parents begin to arrive.
I really enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book. The tension grew with each chapter and I couldn't wait to find out how the story would end.
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for NZLisaM.
412 reviews342 followers
January 9, 2020
Cliff Heights School – located in rural Somerset. Progressive, liberal, co-ed, for children aged 4-18.

It consists of several buildings all isolated from one another:
New School – the largest, and the closest to the road. Contains most of the classrooms.
Old School – on the edge of the woods rests the original Victorian structure where the offices, library, and one English class are located. An enclosed glass walkway leads to a newer addition – the theater.
The Pottery Room – a shed deep in the woods.
Junior School – ages 4-10. Near the edge of the cliff, overlooking the sea.
All linked and accessed by a private driveway.

It's the coldest day in five years – with a heavy snowstorm bearing down on the area.

At 9:16am a single shot is fired.

From that moment on, the school is under siege.

And, in exactly three hours it will all be over, one way or another.

A tension-filled, action-driven, fast-paced thriller, with some surprising revelations. The students and teachers were true heroes who did not did not take an attack on their school lying down. They fought back, displaying immense resilience, courage, and most important of all – love.

Keep those tissues at the ready, because you are going to need them – Three Hours was a tear-jerker, but Rosamund Lupton handled a delicate topic with sensitivity and integrity. There were some upsetting scenes, but they were non-graphic and not just for the sake of gratuitous violence. The plot was character-driven, a psychological study unfolding through the eyes of a wide range of characters affected by the events – students, teachers, parents, and police.

Since events took place in real time, with the clock ticking, multiple POV's really ramped up the tension, and kept you apprised of what was happening all over the school, and with the investigation. Kids and faculty were trapped, cut-off, with no escape not only by the threat of an active shooter but severe weather stalling help and rescue.

It's been a while since I’ve read a novel about a school shooting, and it was interesting to witness how the latest technology both helped and hindered the situation. Also, of fascination was the lock-down procedures the school had in place, and how professionally and capably the teachers handled the threat and kept the children calm and distracted. The Shakespeare play Macbeth was often linked to the plot which I found clever and original, and fairytale, literature, poetry, and quotes were also used effectively.

A sentimental story of bravery and survival. Another author whose backlist I will be adding to my tbr. Three Hours is deserving of all the hype and praise possible.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,575 reviews601 followers
October 3, 2019
This is a very moving, emotional roller-coaster of a novel. It is snowing, November, and we are at a school in rural Somerset, with cliffs on one side and woods surrounding the spread out building – including a theatre, pottery building, and Junior and Senior School (named Old and New School). This book begins with a gunman shooting Headmaster, Matthew Marr, in the head. Dragged into the library by some pupils, the events of that day unfold, as the school goes into lockdown.

Characters include the Headmaster and Deputy Head, Detective Inspector Rose Polstein, a parent waiting anxiously for news of her son, Hannah, who is doing her best to care for Mr Marr and her boyfriend, Syrian refugee, Rafi Bukhari and his younger brother, Basi.

I do not want to give away the plot, but I will be surprised if many readers do not finish this without a tear in their eye. Not many books make me feel tearful, but I found this profoundly moving and very topical. Although this is, of course, about a tragedy, it is also a very uplifting read. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

Profile Image for Nadia.
263 reviews175 followers
October 27, 2019
Quick but a very intense read!

A secular school in the English countryside is targeted by masked gunmen who shot the Headmaster and threaten the children. The book covers a three hour span during which the children barricade themselves inside the school and police is trying to negotiate with the gunmen to prevent any more shots being fired.

I read the book in a couple of days, completely engrossed in the story. This is a chilling and terrifying read that had my heart racing in the critical moments. The book is masterfully written, the characters are well drawn out and I was feeling all of their emotions - the terror of the trapped children, the courage of the teachers and the despair and helplessness of the parents. 

This was my first book by the author but I'll be definitely looking out for her next books.

Many thanks to Penguin Books UK for a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Profile Image for Mark.
1,077 reviews
December 12, 2019
Tense!
But then the story cant not be.....
A thriving tolerant and liberal independent school in Somerset set within its own forest land with various out buildings comes under attack via a bomb and ‘terrorists with guns’ and as the title would imply there is ‘3 Hours’ to ‘sort it’ and save lives

Its very difficult to say what is good, what is bad, which parts were thrilling and which parts were not so without giving any of the plot away and thus ruining the element(s) of surprise throughout the book! ( a cop out anno but there you go!) however what I will say is that the book is ( as maybe you would expect via the subject ) political and at times this becomes a bit overpowering!

But as a thriller it is as said tense, nail bitingly so and the sense of mixed claustrophobia with terror that the hostages feel is very real and very raw and powerfully described

The use of previous school sieges and shootings as a backdrop to the story is chilling as well as informative

At tines it felt a long 3 hours and at other times it sped past

Worth saying the ‘thoughts’ of one of the gunman’s Mum’s is emotive
as she tries to come to terms with what she is experiencing, I really felt for her and what she was living through

The ‘police procedural’ side of things did not daunt the reader and held some fascinating insights into what happens in these situations

There was an ongoing theme of a ‘mystery’ gunman and after reading the ending 4 times I cant seem to figure out who it was or if we were ever actually told who it was, anyone who has read it and worked it out please let me know

On the whole I did enjoy it and hope I haven’t given too much away in my review! I am pretty sure anyone reading it will enjoy it

8/10
4 Stars
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,161 reviews35 followers
February 9, 2020
2.5 rounded down

My issues with this were similar to those with the last book I read (Blood & Sugar) - there are tonnes of rave reviews for both out there so I went in with high expectations, only to find a predictable, averagely-written book with a rote narrative riddled with cliches. Both had relatively large character lists and very little actual character development which are two things which, when in conjunction, are a pet hate of mine. Sigh.

I suppose this is fine if you’re into that sort of thing (“that sort of thing” being zeitgeisty books which think they’re saying something profound), I just wasn’t as wowed by the story and the themes as I felt the author wanted me to be.
Profile Image for Sharon.
947 reviews182 followers
March 9, 2022
This book has everything I could want in a psychological thriller, it grabbed my attention right from the beginning and I couldn’t put it down as I just had to know how it would end. Rosamund Lupton has done a fabulous job in writing this gripping novel which had me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to read more books by this author. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,384 followers
April 12, 2021
I added this book to my list of ones I was immediately interested in and promptly forgot about what exactly it contained. The school shooting this focused on could have been nothing but harrowing to read about but felt that much more shocking for how unprepared I was to discover it here.

I have read a handful of stories featuring the abhorrent circumstances depicted here but none, I believe, have been set in Britain. Facets of this setting felt familiar to me, which only served to, again, heighten the horror for the unknown that was also hidden amongst it.

The third factor, which aided in the tumult of emotions that overwhelmed me whilst reading this, was the characters. This featured a multitude of perspectives, many of them young, directly involved in the harrowing three hours they were spent under siege. One of these was brave Hannah, who put her own life in jeopardy to save her headmaster's, when she discovered he had been struck by a gunman's bullet. One other was her boyfriend, Rafi, who also selflessly put himself in danger to save the school's youngest members. This was an extraordinary act to read about, but proved even more so after the reader became privy to his escape from war-torn Syria and the PTSD he subsequently suffered from it.

These were just two of the many perspectives that all aligned to deliver this alarming and agonising read. Not one page was easy to digest and I had to pace out my reading of them for the flood of emotions each opened the doors to.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Rosamung Lupton, and the publisher, Penguin, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Lisa.
726 reviews
June 15, 2021
Rosamund Lupton delivers a powerful & beautifully written novel about survival & bravery that kept me thinking if i had as much courage as these year 12 students had at a school in Somerset high school in England, the principal Mr Marr lies critically injured in the library two students know first aid as its compulsory for their year, the girl Hannah covers herself over him she takes off her hoody but silence is the best option as a gunman remains at large in the corridor.


CLICK- CLICK-CLICK-CLICK goes his shoes on the floor but the students remain silent, another student David covers his legs with his coat, mayhem breaks loose as the police arrive David sees the younger students in the second school are safe, what these kids did i know i would not have the courage to do it was in the middle of a snow storm this occurred so it makes matters worse for the police. This was an outstanding read that kept me enthralled from the beginning to the end these kids had guts i enjoyed every minute


This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amanda.
710 reviews233 followers
September 29, 2019
A Somerset school is under siege, it has been taken over by armed gunmen who have shot the headmaster Mathew Marr. Pupils at the school have barricaded themselves in their classrooms. There has been a snow storm and the police and emergency services are struggling to attend and are trying to find out who has a grudge against the school. Is it a disgruntled ex employee or pupil?

Although the timeline for this story is short, it delivers a chilling and mesmerising read. A tale of courage in adversity. Loved how the drama teacher encourages the pupils to rehearse their play Macbet, to keep their minds off this dangerous situations.

This story is fast paced and terrifying at times, I held my breath scared to read on!! I think this book is hard hitting as we have all read in the news about shootings happening in schools so I can definitely relate to it.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Ivana - Diary of Difference.
543 reviews689 followers
December 13, 2022
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Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It’s an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.


I am glad I got the chance to be part of the blog tour for Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton. I was reading this book while I was on a plane, travelling to Macedonia, and it was a great adventure all the way through. In all honesty, I enjoyed it a lot, but it didn’t make my favourites list.

A school is under a siege and the headmaster has been shot. The story is being told from the point of view of everyone involved – the students, the teachers, the worried parents, the investigators, even the bad guys… Different people are hiding in different places in the school, all hoping this is just a dream.

During the book, we follow a few story lines:

*Hannah, the teenage girl who is in love for the first time, trying to help the wounded headmaster.
*Rafi and his younger brother Basi, Syrian refugees, still suffering from PTSD.
*The parents that are gathered together, desperate for news that their children are safe.
*The police psychologist and investigators, who are trying to identify the gunmen.
*The students hiding in the school theatre, who rely on a Shakespeare play to calm themselves.

As the chapters go through, the time passes and we get a better glimpse of the whole picture, and the story behind the whole attack of the school. It is very nicely written and amazingly put together.

The ending was unpredictable.

I loved the ending. Even though I had a lot of guesses, and I desperately tried to convince myself that the person responsible couldn’t possibly be the guilty one, the book proved me wrong in the most unpredictable way possible. The book’s ending is the ending you have been waiting for in a thriller for a very long time, and I was quite pleased for a few days after reading it.

Throughout the book, you will get hundreds of small clues that you won’t even notice, and in the end it will all make sense. I may have to read this book again, just to enjoy all those little hidden clues throughout the way and cherish them for the amazing clues they were. Also, to simply mock my inability to spot them as well. 🙂

If you love fast-paced thrillers and multiple point-of-view books, Three Hours should definitely be on your radar. I highly recommend it!

Thank you to Penguin House, for sending me a copy of this book!



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Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,385 reviews977 followers
March 3, 2019
“Love is the most powerful thing there is”.

So says one character in Rosamund Lupton’s Three Hours, an incredibly powerful, heart breaking and undeniably brilliant novel, the thing is you know, I believe that’s true. If you read this you’ll believe it too.

Three Hours. One School. A life threatening and life changing event.

Reading this book was both the best and most difficult three hours (ironically) I’ve spent inside a story for years. Gripping, almost gently breaking down your defences, that thing that separates your fact from your fiction, the characters within this multi arc drama are tangible and real. They could be your family, your friends, this is why your heart will pound out of your chest, you’ll have to step back sometimes but you’ll be drawn back in by the sheer emotion of it all – now I’m out the other side I’m a little in awe of how far I was in it. Actually I think powerful is understating it by quite a margin.

The writing is so beautiful. The inner turmoil, the bravery, the terror and the dawning of understanding, all brought to vivid, shocking life on the page. The author takes on all the nuances, all the emotional levels, every part of human nature both the best and the worst of it and makes you look, really LOOK at it and the world we are living in. There are no punches pulled, no promises made and yet at the centre of it all, through the trauma, there is hope. Hope and love.

Yes the story is ripped straight from a headline you hope never to see again. This has been done before you may say. No. Not like this. Not with this immersive level of quality in the prose, in the characters, in the overall impact of it. I cried for our society when I was done, I also believed in it.
Love is the most powerful thing there is.

Read this book. Live it.
Profile Image for Tracy Fenton.
889 reviews166 followers
May 15, 2019
It's taken me a couple of days since I finished Three Hours to think about this extraordinary story and what I can write in my review.

Three Hours is based on every parent's worst nightmare - a school siege, young pupils held hostage, teachers being shot and gunmen surrounding the school seemingly uninterested in negotiating.  What makes this particular story stand out from others in this genre is that the school in question is based in Somerset, UK and in the midst of a fierce and unrelenting snow blizzard.

The weather is almost a character itself within story line - as it's instrumental in obstructing police surveillance and causing severe delays when it comes to bringing the siege to an end.

This beautiful and sensitive story is narrated through the eyes of several main characters bringing a multi-layer human angle enabling the reader to watch the story unfold through so many different sides.

It's emotional and raw in places leaving your heart breaking, but inspiring and courageous in others allowing our hearts to soar with hope and love.

Three Hours is NOT an easy book to read as a parent or even as a human being, however it has an important message running through the pages “Love is the most powerful thing there is” and after finishing this story I certainly felt that message loud and clear.
Profile Image for Lou (nonfiction fiend).
2,771 reviews1,624 followers
January 6, 2020
Three Hours is bestselling author Rosamund Lupton's latest standalone thriller; I particularly love how her novels are packed with emotion and many perceptive and moving moments but that it never results in the plot lacking in terms of thrills and excitement or it being watered down essentially. This is the most powerful and affecting story I have read in a long time and it's timely and topical given that America has a huge problem with youngsters shooting up schools right now. It centres on a three hour period of time in which both the best and worst of humanity are revealed. Told from the perspective of those inside the school building at the time, we bear witness to the sheer terror and confusion about what had just happened to them all; their disbelief is clear to see. Both the most compassionate, altruistic actions are on display right alongside the most evil and narcissistic. But these sort of things don't happen in rural Somerset, England, do they?

This is a heartbreaking tale of how people rapidly come together and support one another in a situation where they are in imminent danger and the possibility that this could turn into a bloodbath in which lives are lost. I don't want to elaborate any further as I don't feel I can do it justice and strongly suspect going in blind will ensure you absorb it more. I can't really say it was enjoyable per say as the topic is very much a sad and tragic one but it is both a gripping and stunning read; you can always rely on Ms Lupton to produce a riveting story. I warn you that this is not for the faint-hearted. Surprisingly the cast of characters are sufficiently well developed despite the story spanning a mere three hours and the twists and turns were each as compulsive as the last. It is a highly original plot ripped from today's headlines and despite it being a very emotional topic I couldn't put it down. As always, it is beautifully written and pulls you in from the very beginning. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Viking for an ARC.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,627 reviews1,606 followers
January 5, 2020
Set in Somerset.

When the pupils of Cliff Heights school arrive that morning they did not k ow that the next three hours would be the most scariest and life changing hours of their lives. Their school is under siege. The headmaster, Matthew Marr has been injured. There is three gunmen. One is walking up and down the corridor, one outside in the woods but where is the third one? The snow has started to fall, hampering the rescue attempt.

This book is a out a hate crime. It's emotionally fraught and fast paced. The story is well written and I was constantly on the edge of my seat. The backstory of Rafi and Basi was heartbreaking. The plotline is complex and the tension builds. There is quite a few characters but they all have key roles in the story. This is a story that will stay with you long after you ha e finished it. A fantastic read that I do recommend.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Books UK and the author Rosmund Lupton for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
985 reviews69 followers
January 7, 2020
This was such a good book to read. At times it was very tense as it reminded me of all the awful school shootings in America. Something I find very hard to watch. This book was very well written by an author I’ve read before. I’ve read The Sister which I throughly enjoyed so I was pleased to see she had this one.
I read this very quickly as I just wanted to find out who it was and how it all turns out.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,208 followers
Want to read
October 3, 2019
Sounds interesting, might read it very soon
Profile Image for Michelle Curie.
698 reviews343 followers
June 17, 2019
Oh dear, did I read a different novel to everyone else? I don't want to imply that this isn't a good book, as multiply people before me have felt touched and moved by it, but I personally experienced it as a struggle to make it through.



The premise sounded intriguing: the entire novel is told over the course of 180 minutes. During those three hours, a snowed-in school in Somerset is attacked by masked gunmen. The headmaster is wounded, the pupils are held hostage.

It's a brave and touchy topic to write about, especially considering the stories parallels to many events that have truly happened. The Columbine High School shootings come to mind, which adds an urgency to the narrative. Yes, it's fiction, but you keep reminding yourself that this could be happening for real. Because it has happened before.

Lupton writes with sensibility and from a place of compassion. We witness the story from different viewpoints and experience the trauma from all possible angles: we meet the students that are trying to rehearse for their performance of Macbeth, we learn what it is like for the refugee brothers Rafi and Basi from Syria, we see the police trying to get on top of the situation while mother Beth just wants any information on her son she can get.

It's tumultuous, full of panic, but underlying it all is compassion. Rosamund Lupton may write about horror, but the message she wants to get across is a positive one. We see what strength it demands from people to survive a harrowing situation like that and we get to read about acts of selflessness and pure bravery.

Despite all that, I just couldn't find my way into the story. I can't pinpoint what it was, but I didn't feel a connection to any of the characters, making me feel like I was just reading names on a page (which, obviously, I was, but you get what I mean). Maybe that's similar to how one would live through a situation like that - maybe names and people become blurry, maybe you always feel a bit detached from the horror happening around you, but I don't think it was the author's intention to raise those feelings in the reader. I just didn't feel involved and therefore wasn't able to show any kind of emotional reaction to what I was reading. I was just glad when it ended.

An Advanced Reading Copy was provided to me by NetGalley, for which I want to say thank you.
Profile Image for C.L. Taylor.
Author 21 books2,672 followers
Read
October 4, 2020
Immersive, terrifying, moving, intelligent and highly recommended.
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