Book Club: The Hidden Hours

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Author: Sara Foster
ISBN: 978-19-251-8481-5
RRP: $29.99

The Hidden Hours is another psychological suspense novel by the talented Sara Foster that is set between the past and the present, Australia and London.

Eleanor has moved to London for a fresh start, she is temping at a publishing house and living with her maternal uncle and his family. The morning after the staff Christmas party the body of Arabella Lane is found in the Thames, and it isn’t yet known whether she jumped or was pushed. It seems the one person who may know the truth is Eleanor, but she has no memory of the hours that hold the answers.

The further into the story we delve the more people get caught in the web of deception, betrayal and accusations, including Eleanor’s extended family.

The flashbacks to the Australian outback tell the story of Eleanor’s childhood. We know that something happens leaving her with the inner demons she is trying to escape with her transatlantic move but we aren’t sure what until quite late in the narrative.

Eleanor wakes the morning after the staff Christmas party with no memory of getting home and only sketchy memories from midway through the night. She forces herself up and into work only to discover that Arabella has been found in the river and from what she does remember she knows they spent at least some time together throughout the night.

The present day chapters begin with a short paragraph telling us a little about the investigation as it is going on unrelated to Eleanor; we look in on the investigators, the family and the witnesses. Otherwise we are back in 2005 watching Eleanor’s life unfold. They left the city and moved to a property outside of a little town where they built their own house while living in a shed.

We soon learn that Arabella didn’t jump but there’s no hard evidence pointing to who was there and no real suspects, which means everyone’s under suspicion. I enjoyed the tension and I was kept guessing. There were a few times that I formulated a theory, only to be proved wrong. It was all quite circular in that you were never quite certain when you were picking a suspect.

Eleanor knows that the answers may be found in the missing hours and only she may hold the key to unlocking them, but how when she can’t remember. The police are investigating Arabella’s death but Eleanor also sets out to try and find answers; only to discover people wanting to keep secrets at every turn. If they are willing to hide some information what else might they be hiding…

I was actually more engrossed with the 2005 storyline, and how it related to what happened to Arabella. Eleanor was 9 when they moved, leaving her childhood home and everything and everyone she knew. Her brother was older and he struggled to adjust, the family had no real space of their own sharing a one room shed and rather than bring them together it just helped push them apart.

There were so many things in the 2005 storyline that weren’t properly explored because our narrator was a 9 year old girl so I kept jumping to conclusions about where things were heading.

Present day Eleanor feels that history is repeating, but we don’t yet know what that history is so we are still left clutching at straws and suspecting everyone.

The Hidden Hours is an engrossing tale of the secrets that tear apart families and the fear you face when you can’t even trust yourself.

Two intriguing mysteries rolled into one captivating story that left me on the edge of my seat.

The Hidden Hours is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Sara Foster can be reached on Facebook and her Website.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Hidden Hours so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

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20 thoughts on “Book Club: The Hidden Hours

  1. the hidden hours by SARA FOSTER.

    Take one Australian girl Eleanor Brennan, 21 years old who has moved to London to forget her troubled childhood and to make a new start.

    Add the office Christmas party where Eleanor’s drink is spiked.

    Add the suspicious death of Arabella Lane, the wife of Eleanor’s boss.

    Mix it all around and you have a spellbinding mystery,

    Eleanor is in a strange city, staying with relations she has only just met and not had time to make any friends.

    Why can’t she remember the missing hours after the party?

    Why can’t she forget the childhood trauma when she was 9 ?

    We do find out the answers as the book progresses.

    Couldn’t put the book down, loved it !!!!!!!

    Thankyou to Simon and Schuster and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this book.
    Thankyou to Sara Foster for writing it !! I will be finding more of her books to read!

  2. I only received The Hidden Hours two days ago! I could not put this book down.

    Putting a young woman, Eleanor into tragic circumstances which has parallels to events when she was 9 cause her to have some gaps in her memory and doubt causes her to fear and not trust her own instincts. But she has learnt from her younger self and the mistakes made to not back down even tho it takes an enormous inner strength to do so.

    Sara Foster an amazing writer and a great ability to distract you from what is really happening. Within The Hidden Hours the killer could have been any number of characters.

    Because I enjoyed The Hidden Hours so much as a psychological thriller, Sara Foster has become a new favorite novelist and I will be looking at her previous novels for twists and turns of the mind.

    Thank you for introducing me this book

  3. Sara Foster certainly writes a compelling suspense in ‘The Hidden Hours’. Thank you to @SimonSchusterAU Publishers and @BeautyandLaceOnline for the opportunity to review this book.

    Two simultaneous stories are presented in this book based around the main character Eleanor. Living in Australia in 2004/5 with her brother and parents, the family is forced to sell up their home and downscale to a shack in the country. So begins the families emotional decline. Her father manically begins building a house on the block, the children left alone to their own devices. Her brother, Aiden finds release in none too savoury friends, disappearing all hours of the day and night. Evelyn’s mother is the only one trying, although unsuccessfully to hold their family together.

    From the opening pages the reader is aware of some trauma that has occurred to Eleanor. There is a strong hint of disaster referred to in the ensuing chapters, but what that is, we are yet to know. Throughout the story telling we become more familiar with each character and the tension builds as the reader waits for the impending doom to occur.

    The chapters alternative to modern day when Evelyn escapes her troubled thoughts/memories to travel to London, boarding with her uncle, aunt and two girls. Evelyn begins working at her Aunt’s place of work as a temp for a Publishing Firm. Here she is thrust into the murder plot of her bosses wife, Arabella. The writer leaves us with snippets of information from lots of characters, the suspicion flying in all quarters. Who killed Arabella?

    As Evelyn tries to investigate the turn of events from the night of the murder, she battles to keep perspective due to her exposure to trauma as a young girl.

    This is a riveting novel. As the reader you follow along riding the emotional and psychological traumas, getting to know the complexities of many of the characters.

    I highly recommend this read. It will keep you second guessing, entranced in the ‘maybes and perhaps scenarios’. Sara Foster presents a very solid book, introducing multiple characters with complicated natures and a murder plot that keeps you enthralled.

  4. Absolutely loved, loved, loved ‘The Hidden Hours’! You know how sometimes suspenseful books are really annoying because you’re just like, just get to the point and tell me what is going on? Well, somehow, Sara Foster has managed to make this book not be like that. Enough information was dished out so that I felt satisfied, but also not too much that I could predict everything that was going to happen. I don’t know how she did it, it was a bit like magic!

    Once I started reading, I just didn’t want to put the book down, but the kids were going on about being starving and my boss was saying I had to work…blah, blah, blah In all honesty, I can’t remember the last book I’ve read that I really didn’t want to put down. The characters were all entertaining and the storyline always kept me guessing. I did not work out what was going to happen until it happened.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for another fantastic book to review. I will definitely be passing this one on for my friends to read. >:o)

  5. Sara Foster’s The Hidden Hours, is a suspense novel about Arabella’s mystery death in the Thames.

    Arabella was seen with Eleanor at office party just hours before she died.

    Eleanor new to not only Parker and Lane the children’s publishing firm, she is new to the country so she hasn’t yet made any trusting friendships/relationships with her work peers or the relatives she now lives with.

    Eleanor tries to recall what happened that night of Arabella’s fate; however she appears to have amnesia and can’t recall those hidden hours. Confused, afraid and alone Eleanor sets out to find the truth which only brings about many ghosts of her past.

    As story weaves in between the murder investigation and Eleanor’s childhood. We learn more about how she came about living abroad with her uncle, aunt and two nieces in London.

    Eleanor’s secrets and those around her come out as the story progresses. We are left wondering if this will be the end of her troubles or will it harbour the investigation and the relationships with those surrounding her.

    I was equally absorbed by both story lines and found that while it was an easy read it was also very captivating which keeps you guessing right until the end.

    I am keen to read more of Foster’s novels, and happy to recommend The Hidden Hours to friends and family.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for this enjoyable read.

  6. Thankyou Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster.

    As a first time reader of Sara Foster I wasnt sure what to expect. But from start to end, this book had me enthralled!

    A thriller that captures you from the very start, and has its unexpected twists and turns, The Hidden Hours has you putting it down due to life commitments only to have you picking it back up again saying “that housework can wait till later!”

    My only disappointment in the book was I felt the ending was over too fast. Felt like you worked it out and it was over. Would have liked some more characters to be included ie Naeve, Eleanors neice, for a longer ending.

    For anyone who loves a good thriller this book is for you, or for fans of The Dry by Jane Harper, this book is for you. Can guarentee if you like a thriller you wont be disappointed!

  7. The Hidden Hours has lived up to its name. A lady has started a new job as a PA and she is not there long before someone dies after a party. It is a good read for anyone who wants to know how it all works out for Eleanor who has issues. Thanks for another good read Beauty And Lace.

  8. The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster
    Loved this book
    Eleanor a 21 year old Australian, has travelled to London hoping to put the trauma of her family’s tragedy behind her. We follow her story as a 9 year old. The affects of her family’s move to the country lead us to the explosive event which causes her to suffer memory loss. Was her part in this event so horrific? was she to blame? why won’t her mind free her from her terror?
    Eleanor soon finds her terrors have followed her to London. Soon she is involved in another event so similar but even more haunting. A work colleague is murdered and Eleanor is a suspect along with several others.
    However Eleanor cannot free herself from her childhood demons and now suffers another blank out. She is determined to overcome her state of mind.
    The story carries several suspects and attention swings from one to another as more clues are presented. Both stories continue and more characters are introduced by short notes at each chapter of the latest story. At times this seems to confuse or slow the flow of the story. As Eleanor struggles to recall the events leading up to the murder she must also resolve her ongoing childhood dramas. Her London dilemma is complicated by her relationships with the other suspects. Nathan and his physical abuse, Will by his personal involvement with Eleanor and her realisation that Ian, her uncle is psychologically involving his young daughter as her father used her.
    Finally Eleanor recalls the first event and realises she is not to blame and how she can overcome her terrors. The revelation of the murderer of Annabella lifts the veil on her second loss of memory.

  9. I was really looking forward to Sara Foster’s The Hidden Hours after thoroughly enjoying her previous book All That Is Lost Between Us last year. So I was thrilled to be included in this Beauty and Lace book club.

    The Hidden Hours has all the elements of a juicy mystery with many dirty secrets and true colours coming out in the days following a tragic death. Eleanor’s character was well portrayed and as the reader I felt a lot of empathy for her. I enjoyed exploring the new relationships she has formed on arriving in the UK which are so suddenly put under huge pressure. I thought the juxtaposition of the current day and childhood stories was interesting and added significant depth to the the story and characters. Certainly everything and everyone was not as they seemed on first impressions. While there are many twists and turns in this book with lots of surprises, for some reason while I felt sure there was a huge twist or shocking revelation coming, the ending felt mildly anti-climactic. I can’t put my finger on why, my best guess is because of the very high expectations that I had prior to reading. NeverthelessI would certainly recommend this book as a great page turner.

    Thanks so much to Beauty and Lace, Simon and Schuster and of course Sara Foster for this fabulous opportunity! I will be looking for more of Sara’s books as I really enjoy her writing style and complex characters.

  10. A very enjoyable read!

    If you appreciate reading fictional mystery novels, then The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster is a must read. Full of surprises and with two suspenseful mysteries to solve, this novel was very hard to put down! It had me guessing from the very beginning and maintained my thirst for trying to figure out the truth as to what really happened. Who is Arabella’s murderer and why is the heroine, Eleanor involved? What happened to Eleanor when she was younger? Being brought up in tragic circumstances, it’s no wonder Eleanor starts to doubt her own sanity.

    This is a well-written story where all the characters and descriptive scenes come to life. I am very interested in reading more novels written by this author.

    Thank you very much Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this very interesting novel.

  11. I really enjoyed The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster. Just when you think you have the mystery of who killed Arabella the author pulls out another twist which leaves you turning the pages quicker and quicker trying to catch up. This book had me reading well past sleep time and counting pages till the end when the mystery would be solved. Loved this book, Thank you to Beauty and Lace, Simon&Schuster and Sara Foster.. I am definetly a new fan and will be looking for my next Sara Foster read.

  12. Thank you for sending me this book. I loved it and couldn’t put it down. It was very suspenseful and I kept trying to work out who the killer was.I really like these kind of books and will definitely look for more by this author. I didn’t want the story to end.

  13. Thanks to Beauty and Lace for the oppertunity to read The Hidden hours by Sara Foster.
    A psychological thriller that will keep you in suspense until the end. There are quite a few unexpected twists and turns as the mystery of Arabella Lanes tragic death after the Office Christmas Party.
    Eleanor is a young Australian girl relocated to London trying to escape her past.
    As the story unfolds we follow Elanors childhood in outback Australia and her current struggle to try to remember the Christmas Party where she was drugged by her Boss, Arrabella only hours before her death.
    Eleanor has missing hours and she desperately tries to remember what occured to clear her name from suspicion by the Police.
    The conclusion will have you stunned.
    Sara Foster writes beautifully with a depth of understanding the loneliness of a young girl struggling to make sense when everything goes wrong.
    I really enjoyed The Hidden Hours.

  14. I loved this book. I went with my gut on who the killer would be and found i was correct come the end of the story but i questioned my choices all the way through as suspicious activities continued to put me off.
    Eleanor was a loveable and fractured young woman who i wanted to help through such a terrible turn of events and previous life.
    She was much stronger than she gave herself credit and i felt the twists in the murder story gave her a kick-while-she-was-down type scenario.
    She was so tough and loyal. A trait i can see coming from her mother. I felt rage and frustration at eli’s parents for abandoning them throughout the building of their new home in such a harsh environment but I also see it was the building blocks of the drama to come.
    Such heartbreak for a family already put through so much with her brother becoming lost to his new life and and losing any hope of the future.
    I felt for Solomon and wished to have been his neighbor so i could have helped him through such an isolated existence. He was such a gentle and important character to the story and how it progressed but the injustices thrown at such a poor old man left me deflated. I suspected his character was going to turn to sexual assault at one point and was so glad he remained a steady and strong character instead.
    The book was brilliant. I was glad to see some warmth grow in Susan as the ending of the story grew near. She was an intricate part to the plot and the way the story continued to confuse and baffle me.
    I will be finding some more stories like it soon i hope.
    Thanks for the chance to read a ripper book. It was read in two nights. I just had to get to the end

  15. I really enjoyed reading The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster.
    I love a good suspense novel and this one certainly didn’t disappoint.
    There were so many twists and turns it certainly kept me interested and wanting to turn the pages to find out more.
    Our main character is Eleanor who has relocated to England but we have many references to her past living in outback Australia.
    Eleanor was drugged at her work Christmas party .Her boss Arabella turns up dead and we have Eleanor looking to find what happened in those missing hours that might save her from being blamed for the murder.
    So many twists and turns and a stunning ending.
    I would thoroughly recommend this novel and would like to thank Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read and review this great novel.

  16. loved loved loved this book !

    This was the perfect who done it , crime novel. My type of read.
    From the moment I started reading it had me guessing as to who killed Arabella. I knew she did not take her own life.
    The story consisted of many characters with hidden secrets, deceipts and lies.
    The novel had great characters with great backgrounds. I loved the transition between the past and present life of Eleanor.

    A brilliant read Sara Foster.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace

  17. Keeping this short as I’ve already lost one review because I took too long. I was riveted by this book. It took me 2 days to read and I literally couldn’t put it down. I liked that it moved between present day Eleanor and 9 yo Eleanor and the storyline had me guessing and second guessing who was the culprit. I would read other books by this author. I also appreciated the fact that it was well edited with no spelling mistakes or misused words…(sorry, a bit ocd about that!)

  18. I enjoyed this crime story and it was a page turner. The amnesia or memory loss was a good idea as it seemed to really twist the story into different possibilities. Eleanor is the main character and she was last seen with the victim, yet it is her that has lost her memory of the night. There are also hidden secrets and memories that keep resurfacing throughout the story.
    It was an exciting read and i liked as I had no idea where the story would take me.

  19. I was excited to have the opportunity to read The Hidden Hours are previously enjoying another novel by Sara Foster as a book club read last year. Again this book is written in an easy to read style with an effortless flow. The book is set out in short chapters that alternate between Eleanor’s present life and on her past. The present is based on a murder investigation of Arabella Lane; a colleague of Eleanor, and the past gives insight into Eleanor’s childhood and the events that still plague her memories. Eleanor is a fairly likeable character who has escaped to England but finds out that she can’t outrun herself and everything that haunted her at home still does while she is away. We watch Eleanor try to uncover the truth about Arabella’s death before it pulls her under yet this is made harder by the fact that she can’t even draw on her memories of the night as she was drugged and can’t remember a large block of hours.

    I found the Hidden Hours to be an enjoyable read but it didn’t completely pull me in. The story was easy to follow and it built up well as we learnt various snippets of information throughout. It was always hinting at the awful memories of Eleanor’s past and I was waiting for them to be more significant earlier on but it wasn’t until right at the end that everything is revealed very quickly. I found the last few chapters of the book seemed a little rushed as they started alternating between the past and present within chapters rather than as separate chapters to complete the story. The end of the book however ties up the story nicely and doesn’t leave much unanswered. While it’s not ‘happily ever after’ it does seem satisfying the way it finishes.

  20. The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster kept me guessing at every turn.
    Eleanor has travelled to London to escape the traumatic childhood she endured in outback Australia, but within weeks of arriving to live with her uncle she becomes embroiled in a murder of a work colleague, Arabella Lane. Having been one of the last possible people to see Arabella alive and with absolutely no memory of the time leading up to her death speculation is put on Eleanor and those around her. Will, whom both Arabella and Eleanor work with is a possible suspect and when he starts to become friendly with Eleanor she starts to question why – is he involved in Arabella’s death or is someone else? Is it Nathan, Arabella’s husband whom she had a fight with at the Christmas party and slapped publically before leaving and being murdered? or, is it one of the many men that Arabella had an affair with?
    This book kept me turning the pages to find out who could possibly have wanted Arabella dead – and their is a massive list of them, as well as following the hardships that Eleanor faced growing up and continues to face until the murderer is found – it is the person I least expected. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be looking out for others written by Sara Foster.

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