Genre: English Novel - Thriller

Published: 2020 - Read:

Three Hours

Rosamund Lupton (1964 - )

Pages: 306


It is about an terrorist attack on a progressive school in remote rural Somerset. The relationships between pupils, staff and parents are examined in a very well-observed, honest way. The central role of two young refugee boys from Syria is thought-provoking, and the protective love of the older brother for his younger sibling is very moving.

This was recommended by a guest on 'A Good Read' and it sounded interesting. I found it a very compelling. It is cleverly constructed and the suspense had me finish the book within 24 hours, which is quite unusual for me!

The whole story is set against the rehearsal of the school's production of Macbeth. The Syrian boy has brought his grandfather's copy of the play with him. It is ironic that his dream to gain assylum in the land of Shakespeare, actually results in his having to face the most perilous situation in a long list of dangers. There are lines in Macbeth which show how Macbeth's tyrrany is mirrored in Assad's reign of terror in Syria:

'Alas, poor country!
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be called our mother, but our grave...
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
Are made, not marked; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy.'

'Each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland and yelled out
Like syllable of dolor.'

The theme of how evil can take over a person, or a regime, is explored. As an act of defiance (and distraction) the rehearsal continues during the siege - and this highlights the themes. The theatre is considered impenetrable, and so the idea of carrying on with preparations for the play is not quite as odd as it sounds. (Better to be occupied doing something, while waiting the police to resue them?!) The drama teacher dreads enacting the scene with the slaughter of Macduff's children - but the murder of innocent children is what is being planned by the forces of evil. The play becomes central to the plot at the denouement. (Don't worry - no spoilers!).

[On completion] Wow!! I've just read the Amazon reviews - and what an example of divergent views!! If you're planning to read the book, I recommend you leave the reviews until you've finished (or not finished!?)... and you'll see on which side of the fence you are! Glad that the 'A Good Read' guests and host are all positive in their reaction - otherwise I might have begun to doubt my judgement...

In retrospect, there were one or two features which stretched credibility... but still, it is a thriller with a difference and I enjoyed it. I think that 'accusation' that would be better shelved with the Young Adult genre - but then there are many excellent works which fall under that heading. [The back story of how the author came to write her first novel is also interesting.]

A Good Read - Pippa Haywood & Felicity Montagu

Actresses and friends Pippa Haywood (Greenwing, The Bodyguard) and Felicity Montagu (Alan Partridge) talk about their favourite books with Harriett Gilbert. They are: The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton, and Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs. They may be old friends, but do they have the same taste in books?