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The Hour I First Believed: A Novel | [Wally Lamb]

The Hour I First Believed: A Novel

When high-school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed. Miraculously, she survives. But when Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family's Connecticut farm, they discover that the effects of chaos are not easily put right.
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Publisher's Summary

When high-school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed. Miraculously, she survives. But when Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family's Connecticut farm, they discover that the effects of chaos are not easily put right.

While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers five generations' worth of diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in his family's house. As unimaginable secrets emerge, Caelum grapples with the past and struggles to fashion a future from the ashes of tragedy. His quest for meaning is at once mythic and contemporary, personal and quintessentially American.

©2008 Wally Lamb; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (614 )
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Performance
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  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 11-12-08
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 11-12-08 Member Since 2014

    glam

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4671
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    "Good story, not-so-good narrator..."

    When I first found that another novel by Wally Lamb was available I couldn't wait to download it, only to find when visiting audible, that the scratchy-voiced George Guidall was the messenger.

    This man just sounds too old to be mid-forties, and brings to mind curmudgeonly versions of Andy Rooney or Morley Safer. However, it's a good listen that not even an older voice can ruin, even with his renditions of female voices that all sound like Edith Bunker.

    It's an excellent story, but a long story, and too long in places, so reader beware, you have to like the voices of an older generation.

    41 of 58 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 02-27-09
    Susan 02-27-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not worth one credit, let alone two!"

    I was very disappointed in this Wally Lamb book. I loved reading "She's Come Undone" and really liked "I Know This Much Is True", but I could hardly stomach this as a listen. I know I could never have made myself read it; I only stuck with the audible version because I wasted two credits on it!

    I didn't like Caelum (the main character) or his pathetic wife whom he enabled. The book also tried to cover too much history and way too many tragedies and disasters. The story really fell apart when other voices were used to delve into a few hundred years of his family history that included several famous people they supposedly knew.

    The story was all over the place - part personal tragedy and part historical fiction with several wars, deaths, many types of social injustice, and every old and modern malady included.

    "The Hour I First Believed" lacked the dark humor of Lamb's other books that made their disturbed characters far more palpable and entertaining. I wish I could get my two credits back and an extra one for my pain and suffering.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty 01-01-14
    Betty 01-01-14 Member Since 2015

    diverduck

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Living on the fault line of chaos"
    Any additional comments?

    A grim and sad story that wrenched at my heart. A study of how people inflict damage upon one another either directly or indirectly. How pain can ripple out and cause collateral damage. Wally Lamb touches on the topic of PTSD without dredging it through melodrama. What kept going through my mind during it was a quote from a John Irving novel…'tolerate those with intolerance.'

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renee Half Moon Bay , CA, USA 02-23-10
    Renee Half Moon Bay , CA, USA 02-23-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Great Adventure from WL"

    At first, I thought this book is not as good as "She Come Undone" and " I Know This Much is True" but I could not put it down and I could not wait to start reading it again. It grabbed my full attention gradually. I was not disappointed and liked this book in a different way than the others.
    Don't expect the same approach the other books had.
    It was a pleasure to read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allison Powell, TN, United States 02-14-10
    Allison Powell, TN, United States 02-14-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Abridged version"

    The first half of the book was great. It kept me interested and wanting more. Then came the second half. It was almost like trying to put two books into one. I finished listening to it only because I already devoted so much time.

    I agree with the review that said if there is an abridged version try that.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Rock Hill, SC, United States 09-23-09
    Susan Rock Hill, SC, United States 09-23-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Journey"

    This isn't a book. Like Wally Lamb's others, it was a journey. When you finish, your brain is tired. But it's very well-written and interesting. It wasn't one of my favorite books but I'm glad I listened to it. I also love George Guidall, the narrator. Don't expect this to be a book about Columbine - it's not. What happened at Columbine is the event that sets the book in motion and weaves it's way throughout the story of Calum Quirk. Enjoy!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lanlady Woodbridge, VA USA 04-04-09
    Lanlady Woodbridge, VA USA 04-04-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "good but not Lamb's best"

    Bad: No small amount of distractions and gratuitous plot elements, especially in the latter part of the book. At times I felt like Lamb didn't quite know how to end this thing, so decided to pilot concepts for his next 2 or 3 books. Good: Lamb is an extraordinary writer, his prose direct yet somehow elegant. The narration was superlative. Despite some plot failings, I didn't want this audiobook to end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Martinez, GA, United States 03-29-09
    Paul Martinez, GA, United States 03-29-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful"

    This is the best book I've listened to this year, Wally Lamb at his best, its just a shame we have had to wait so long.
    This book captured me from the beginning and then got better and better, George Guidall did an excellent job bringing all the characters to life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L Youngstown, OH, United States 02-03-10
    L Youngstown, OH, United States 02-03-10
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    "Wonderful story, poor narration"

    I disagree with the one of the reviewers who states that the characters weren't well developed. This book was extremely complex with the multiple weavings of fiction and history. The history is facinating and the method in which Wally Lamb draws everything together so the reader is able to see the connections with the modern day lives of the characters is brilliant.

    I started listening to this book, but ended up using my magnifying glass and reading it. The narrator seemed to lack what I needed, which were the accents, pitch, and tone of the female voices. Otherwise, a great read, not such a good listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 02-10-09
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 02-10-09 Member Since 2010

    Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent and heartbreaking"

    Like this author's other book, This Much I Know is True, this book is primarily about survivor's guilt and the people living with it. Set to a back drop of survivors of the Columbine shooting, this story traces the long, dark road the characters travel in the wake of that tragedy. The narrator was excellent and the story was compelling and beautifully written. I cried alot in this book.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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