Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go

In this mesmerizing debut, a young American discovers he may be heir to the unclaimed estate of an English World War I officer, which launches him on a quest across Europe to uncover the elusive truth.

Just after graduating college, Tristan Campbell receives a letter delivered by special courier to his apartment in San Francisco. It contains the phone number of a Mr. J.F. Prichard of Twyning & Hooper, Solicitors, in London--and news that could change Tristan's life forever.

In 1924, Prichard explains, an English alpinist named Ashley Walsingham died attempting to summit Mt. Everest, leaving his fortune to his former lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson. But the estate was never claimed. Information has recently surfaced suggesting Tristan may be the rightful heir, but unless he can find documented evidence, the fortune will be divided among charitable beneficiaries in less than two months.

In a breathless race from London archives to Somme battlefields to the Eastfjords of Iceland, Tristan pieces together the story of a forbidden affair set against the tumult of the First World War and the pioneer British expeditions to Mt. Everest. Following his instincts through a maze of frenzied research, Tristan soon becomes obsessed with the tragic lovers, and he crosses paths with a mysterious French girl named Mireille who suggests there is more to his quest than he realizes. Tristan must prove that he is related to Imogen to inherit Ashley's fortune--but the more he learns about the couple, the stranger his journey becomes.

The Steady Running of the Hour announces the arrival of a stunningly talented author. Part love story, part historical tour de force, Justin Go's novel is utterly compelling, unpredictable, and heartrending.

When Tristan Campbell is summoned to London to visit the offices of Twyning & Hooper, he has no idea what to expect. He learns he is the main heir to a lost fortune, but in order to gain it, he must prove beyond doubt that he is the great-grandchild of a woman named Imogen Soames-Anderson and a World War I soldier named Ashley Walsingham. And he has only 8 weeks to prove it. That is when the terms of the will expire and the fortune will be distributed among numerous other lesser heirs. This sets him off on a journey through Europe chasing the tracks of Ashley and Imogen, discovering their story, and piecing together the seams of his past. Along the way, he finds love and learns much about life and himself and what really matters.

Beautifully written, this novel has a very compelling plot that leaves you guessing. The story moves between Tristan’s contemporary travels and into the past more than 100 years prior. The book was absorbing and entertaining, with strong characterization and beautiful descriptions of people and places. The love stories that enfold are emotional and intriguing. The ending left me hanging and a bit frustrated, but that is what still haunts me today. It keeps me thinking about the story and the lessons behind it. A wonderful debut novel. Keep an eye out for this author – there are great promises to come. 

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