Thursday, March 17, 2016
Review: The Hours Count
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were the only US civilians ever executed for espionage. To this day, their guilt is doubted by many. The couple left behind two small children. Jillian Cantor imagines the events leading up to their arrest and execution through the eyes of a fictional neighbor dealing with big problems of her own. In the 1950s, little attention was paid to children's development. Millie knows that her son is not like other children his age, but she does not know what to call it or what she can do to help him.
While this is a possible version of what happened with the Rosenbergs, it truly focuses on the powerlessness of women. We see Millie and Ethel try to make good lives for their children, while being left in the dark about the activities of their husbands. These are the same men who control what money, if any, they have access to and can do things like move the family or send away a child without any input from their wives. Their lives and futures are determined by their spouses and by men they have never even met in the FBI and KGB. The women are isolated and lonely. Millie finds some hope in her friendship with Ethel and in possible help for her son David from a psychologist named Jake.
This is a book that is both heart-pounding and melancholy. The book opens on the day that Ethel is scheduled to be executed and we see Millie make one last-ditch effort to save her friend. As she drives desperately, she thinks back on her relationship with Ethel and the events that have brought them both to this moment. But the past itself is lonely and tragic, as the two women wonder if they will ever have any sort of control over their lives.
The Hours Count
By Jillian Cantor
Riverhead Books October 2015
From the library
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This is one of the books on the New displays at work that calls to me! I'm not sure I can squeeze it in, but I'm happy to hear that it's good.ReplyDelete
You have some serious willpower, friend. I'm pretty sure I would just be sweeping all of the new books into my bag at closing time!!Delete
I saw this book on the New Releases shelf at the library last week but didn't check it out; now I kind of wish I had.ReplyDelete
I guess the nice thing about the library is that you can always get it at a later time. Or is that the bad thing that makes us have ridiculous tbr lists?!?Delete
Wow, this sounds like an excellent read. I'm very intrigued by the case now, and the focus on the powerlessness of women is an interesting angle too.ReplyDelete
Majanka @ I Heart Reading
I agree - it was a really fascinating way into the story. I think I will be doing more reading about the Rosenbergs in the future.Delete
This sounds a bit depressing, but also really good. I love books that give me a glimpse of what life was like in different historical eras and the way this story is framed sounds fascinating.ReplyDelete
This is a time I haven't read too much about. Have you read any books set during the McCarthy era?Delete
Such a beautiful cover and am loving that premise. Sounds charming and I love the perspective.ReplyDelete
It was a sad read, but it was definitely a good one!Delete