Read The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin Online


This novel, one of the Virago Crime Classics, combines humour with a look at the danger and suspense in the tyranny of motherhood. It also explores the redeeming power of love....

Title : The Hours Before Dawn
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 13624678
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 190 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Hours Before Dawn Reviews

  • Liz Barnsley
    2019-02-24 05:06

    I read this brilliant and vintage novel in one big gulp of a sitting this afternoon - positively beautiful writing, immensely creepy yet wittily hilarious in places, Celia Fremlin gives a masterclass in the genre of Domestic Noir years before Domestic Noir was a thing.Winner of the 1960 Edgar award for best mystery novel (and you can see why) The Hours Before Dawn follows one tired young mother as she tries to differentiate between lack of sleep and actual danger - all the while the author describes the role of wife and mother of those times perfectly with humour and grace. Louise is all women who have ever had small children and a relatively useless husband to deal with - we can all relate to that surreal edge of the world feeling you get when you've been up half the night for endless nights. Is that a real shadow hanging over the family in the shape of a seemingly innocuous lodger or is Louise just so damned tired that everything seems horrifying? The path to the truth of the matter is an often laugh out loud funny but always very off kilter one and I loved every single word of this book.It was so refreshing to read a story set in a time where there are no mobile phones that the protagonist can forget to charge/lose/have no signal in order to push the narrative, a time where mental illness was not automatically assumed to be at the heart of any character's issues with reality, where indeed almost all of the oft used plot devices in modern domestic noir are unavailable. The Hours Before Dawn is all the more authentic for it and whilst I'm sure if I read other such books written in the same time they may take on the same blur of repetitiveness for the moment I'm relishing in the unusual and original storytelling technique. It is beautifully done for sure so I will now most definitely be reading this authors other works. In fact it will be a pleasure I shall look forward to with much anticipation.I loved how Celia Fremlin builds the family relationships- Louise and her husband have a strong, solid marriage (another breath of fresh air) , he is useless not because of a lack of care and affection for his wife, but because of the time he lived in where more traditional roles were the norm. She is not a domestic goddess, I often snorted at some very realistic asides on the vagaries of having dinner ready whilst answering obscure and insistent questions from your youngsters and soothing a fractious baby, but all the while there is this underlying menace pervading the story. Louise knows something is wrong but doesn't know what. The author creates this creepy vibe with darker prose invading the lighter moments, those corner of the eye type times that work so much better than obvious and insistent cues. The Hours Before Dawn was truly brilliant, both in style and substance and I really can't recommend it highly enough.

  • Abby (Crime by the Book)
    2019-03-12 05:56

    4.5/5 stars for this classic crime story! Read my full review here: This is truly a remarkable read - written in the 1950's, this psychological suspense story can hold its own against our current crop of psychological and domestic thrillers. Modern readers of the genre will be fascinated by just how well timeless Fremlin's 1950's story seems.

  • Judy
    2019-03-13 03:59

    One of the pleasures of reading all those old books for My Big Fat Reading Project is discovering gems like this. The Hours Before Dawn won the Edgar Award in 1960.Louise Henderson is the young mother of two children in 1950s London. Her infant does not sleep much, especially between the hours of 2 AM and dawn. He cries incessantly so that by the time he is just a few months old, Louise is so sleep deprived she moves through her daily housewifery duties in a daze.Mr Henderson is a typical 50s husband who wants his dinner on time and thinks his wife should be able to quiet that baby so he can sleep at night. Neighbor women on either side of their home are busybodies: one is full of advice on child rearing and the other threatens to call the authorities about the screaming baby.When the Hendersons let out a bedroom to a local school teacher, strange things begin to happen. It takes Louise several weeks to realize something weird is going on, being so sleepy that she is always on the verge of nodding off.Once she realizes their boarder Vera may be the cause of the trouble, Louise turns amateur sleuth and saves her family in the nick of time.The Hours Before Dawn equals the best of Shirley Jackson for its abundance of creeping creepiness as well as its wry take on motherhood and the plight of the housewife. Luckily for me, the book was reprinted in 1995 by Black Dagger Crime Series and I found it at my local library.

  • Lynn
    2019-03-06 09:08

    Brilliant book, never heard of this author before but will be looking out for more of hers

  • Cynthia
    2019-03-11 02:10

    I have been reading her books since I was a teenager. Excellent writer.

  • Shelley Day Sclater
    2019-02-22 02:58

    Solid domestic noir! A story of a young overburdened mother, with a domestically useless husband, trying her best to multitask 1950s style, and presiding over nothing short of pandemonium in her home and in her head. Is she losing the plot? Or are circumstances conspiring to make it look like that? Enter the mysterious spinster lodger who gets more and more sinister by the page. I can't tell you any more than that without introducing spoilers, but suffice to say it's a great read, though the book was written in the 50s and the prose style is of the age, a little too verbose for contemporary tastes, but it deserves to be a classic for all that. It was recommended to me as a work that captured 'post natal depression' better almost than anything else. See what you think about that one!

  • Ben
    2019-03-11 06:08

    A superb and beautifully written tale of suspense that won Fremlin an Edgar Award - not bad for a first novel. The plot is not that complex, but the mystery excels at presenting an exceedingly believable protagonist in housewife Louise Henderson, and the mid- century setting (the novel is from 1958) lends the proceedings a vintage, yet realistic appeal.

  • Nikki
    2019-03-15 01:58

    Protagonist has three children, including a new baby who won't sleep at night, and a traditional British husband who can't figure out why his shirts aren't being ironed properly. To help with expenses they take in a boarder and that's when things really start to go pear-shaped! Highly recommended for any woman who's ever had children; men may not appreciate it as much.

  • Bruce Gargoyle
    2019-03-02 02:04

    I received a copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.Ten Second Synopsis:Louise is exhausted from caring for her third child when the family take on a lodger. At first, nothing seems amiss, but as time passes and Louise struggles to retain her grip on reality through sleeplessness, the lodger's behaviour begins to appear more sinister. The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin is a psychological thriller based upon those oft hideous first months of sleeplessness, exhaustion and physical and mental barrenness that can follow the birth of a child. We are so glad we came across this novel because even as the attitudes and situations depicted in the book are clearly of their time, I have yet to come across a book that so flawlessly transcends social change to appear as relevant and likely today as ever.Although the book is a mystery with a psychological focus, Fremlin deals with the events with a remarkable sense of dry wit.  I initially thought that the book might be a bit dreary in tone, dealing as it does with an exhausted new mother, but Fremlin's writing is incredibly enjoyable and droll and I couldn't help having a bit of a giggle at certain wry observations.  This really helped carry the book and was part of the reason, I suspect, that I got through this one in a couple of chunky sittings.The descriptions of the life of a stay-at-home mother with multiple children and a new addition are so absolutely spot on that it is obvious that Fremlin knows whereof she speaks.  Indeed, this edition features an introduction that describes how Fremlin based the story on her own experiences with one of her children.  The walking-dead exhaustion, the scrutiny of judging members of the public, the feeling that one must certainly be losing one's mind when sleeping and nursing upright in a kitchen cupboard seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do to avoid waking the household during a night feed will be familiar to anyone who has ever had to live with and care for an infant who is a difficult sleeper.  Similarly, contemporary readers will recognise people of their acquaintance in Mark, Louise's "man of the house" husband, who seems to have little idea why Louise can't keep it together on less than three hours of sleep a night, and the family's neighbours who are by turns nosy, complaining and downright outrageous.  There are a few bits of the book that are "of the period" such as the moments when the mothers in the story are quite happy to leave their unattended infants for hours on end to attend to some other task or errand, but overall, the situations faced by Louise and new mothers of today are remarkably similar.The psychological thriller aspect of the story relating to the family's lodger, the mysterious Ms Vera Brandon, unfolds slowly and almost as an afterthought in Louise's hectic, chaotic life.  This is somewhat made up for in the end however, with an action-packed and sinister denouement that features danger, death and daring escapes.  I thoroughly recommend this as the perfect pick for a fun and creepy holiday read, although it may not be wise to pick it up just now if you are a new mother.

  • Kirsty
    2019-03-19 00:52

    Celia Fremlin's 1958 debut novel, The Hours Before Dawn, which has been recently reissued by Faber & Faber, sounded utterly splendid. The novel, which won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1960, marked the beginning of Fremlin's prolific career, in which she went on to publish sixteen novels in all. Fremlin's metier, says Laura Wilson's intelligent and informative introduction, 'was psychological suspense in a domestic setting; no grand guignol or melodrama, but something a thousand times creeper and more insidious in its small-scale, suburban gentility.' A forgotten period novel, lost to the annals of time, which contains an awful lot of psychological tension, was wholly appealing to me.The novel, which focuses upon a young mother named Louise Henderson, and details her troubles of sleepless nights following the birth of her youngest child, is based upon the experiences which Fremlin herself had. It opens with just this issue: 'I'd give anything - anything - for a night's sleep...'. Louise has two school-age daughters, and a new baby named Michael. She 'struggles to service the needs of her family, keep things on an even keel with husband Mark, keep the noise down for the neighbours and keep up appearances in middle-class London.' Her life is stagnant, and stuck in a rut; she continually has to perform the same tasks day after day, and the majority of these revolve around her children: 'The dull, relentless daylight of a wet spring evening was still undiminished; it seemed to go on - and on - and on. Would it never be time to switch on the lights, draw the curtains, and let it slip back into firelit winter again?' Louise does not have a great support network around her; or, arguably, much of one at all. Mark is very much of the view that it is a mother's, rather than a father's, prerogative to look after the children; he implores Louise to make his life easier without making any efforts of his own: '"You've got to see that Michael stops crying at night. You can't expect anyone else to put up with it. I've had just about all I can stand myself."'Following Michael's birth, the Hendersons find that they have to take in a lodger to make ends meet; Miss Vera Brandon comes along, and Louise soon feels a growing uncertainty about her: 'Miss Brandon, in both voice and appearance, gave the impression of being a successful woman of the world, both critical and self-assured; not at all the sort of person whom one would expect to choose for her house an inconvenient, ill-equipped attic in someone else's house.'The Hours Before Dawn begins in an Infant Weighing Clinic; Louise tells the nurse that Michael cries all the way through the night, and will not settle. Her discomfort with her son, and his with her, is made immediately apparent: 'As she spoke, she jiggled Michael with mounting violence, feeling through her palms, through her thighs, the tide of boredom rising within him. Harder - harder - it was like baling out a boat when you know without any doubt that the water will win in the end...'.Louise is constantly surprised by rather awkward situations that occur. When Vera comes into the family's lounge when she is breastfeeding Michael, for instance, Louise is at first embarrassed, and then unsettled, talking quickly in order to divert attention from her bodily exposure: 'Louise stopped, uneasily conscious that she was beginning to run on about her children in just the kind of way that up-to-date mothers must be so careful to avoid. To talk shop if you are a mother is not socially permissible as it is if you are a typist or a bus conductor.'Fremlin realistically draws her characters with just a few deft strokes of her pen. Of Louise's youngest daughter, she writes: 'Harriet, smaller, darker, carrying nothing, free as air, flew past her woebegone sister, skimming like a dryad across the crowded pavement and into Louise's arms'. Louise certainly has an easier relationship with her daughters than with her son, but her lack of sleep and constant worry certainly affects every member of her family, sooner or later.Written in, and of, a period in which 'gender-demarcation was well-night absolute and motherhood fetishised as woman's highest calling', The Hours Before Dawn still holds much relevance for the modern woman. Its prose is nuanced and modern in its feel. The novel is immersive, and has none of the telltale signs which one might associate with a debut. Fremlin has found her voice in The Hours Before Dawn, and her writing appears to be more practised than practising. Fremlin's pace is spot on, and she builds tension and terror admirably. The denouement is both surprising and clever, and I for one cannot wait to discover the rest of her work.

  • Simon
    2019-03-11 03:06

    A housewife with several children, a useless husband, and a mysterious lodger tries to see if her fear have any foundation of if she's just going insane due to a lack of sleep.The basic plot beats of this have been re-used time and time again in films and novels after its publication, but the plot is still engaging and fresh because it just feels original, not watered down. But for me this is all negated by the cumbersome, plodding pace of the novel. The writing really easily evokes the ungodly repetivite hellish routine that was a housewife's life in the old days. Every character except for the main one seems like an annoying obstacle in her way, designed by fate to demolish every shred of dignity. Her husband is a doofus, her kids are just vessels, carrying loud sounds, dirt, and sheer unbearable stupidity. It's no wonder that she's afraid of going mad, I know I did.From the very first chapter, the barrage of awfulness that this poor woman is subjected to made me feel just straight up uncomfortable. And yes, that's the point, that's what it was written for. But it worked just way too well and I found myself trying to finish each chapter as fast as possible not to find out the ending but to get away from this despicable atmosphere.In short, if you aren't averse to reading about unbearable assholes, this is a fine book in all other regards. It's just really, really full of assholes. Good god.

  • Latkins
    2019-03-09 08:17

    First published in the 1950s, this 'lost classic' is a creepy story following Louise, mother of three, whose lack of sleep due to the constant crying of her baby son Michael leads her to question her own sanity. Although a thriller, much of the story is actually quite funny and insightful about motherhood and its strains, and the constant scrutiny from neighbours and other mothers which Louise has to endure. When she takes on a tenant, Miss Brandon, to live in her spare room, Louise starts to suspect that there's something sinister about her. Is she spying on her and her family? Or is she having an affair with her disaffected husband, Mark? This book really brings it home to you how times have changed since the 1950s, when women were left to do all the childcare, housework and cooking, while their husbands went to work. I loved the characters of Louise's two daughters, Margery and Harriet. This is one of those thrillers which will appeal to those who don't usually read crime fiction, as there's so much more to it that just the crime story.

  • Andy Weston
    2019-02-20 02:13

    Rarely have I read a book in which the tension builds with such a crescendo. I had thought at one stage that it was slow in the first half, but if it is then that very much contributes to the story. For the protagonist Louise also, everything is building up and sooner or later there will be disintegration. But of course, there are twists...This is set in the 1950s when it was first published and tells the story of a somewhat ordinary London couple with a young family, two daughters of 8 and 6 year old, and an infant. They take in a lodger and the pressures on Louise grow. It’s the original ‘domestic noir’ in many ways, especially in the last couple of years when there have been so many novels successful in this genre. It reminded me a little ofDoris Lessing’s To Room Nineteenwhich similarly deals with a woman under a pressure that few around her even notice. I suspect also that this is one of those novels that I will appreciate more looking back at it in a few days or weeks, so maybe I will push that rating up to 5 stars...

  • Amy Street
    2019-03-21 07:56

    A gripping psychological thriller that kept me up way too late, and a beautifully written, funny pacy evocation of 1950s motherhood, utterly recognisable and full of riches

  • Abbey
    2019-03-04 04:06

    1958, Edgar-winning first novel, the suspenseful - and fearful! - home life of a new mother; Poor Louise is definitely a bit of a fluffy space-shot of a woman, but she's kind and loving and truly tries her hardest to make everything work well for her family. Whether or not she is mad, becomes mad, or only sees madness around her is slowly and carefully presented. Seems a mite overwrought now, but still effective - three-and-one-half starsMrs. Louise Henderson has a new baby, two active daughters ages 6 and 8, and a home that is usually pretty much a chaotic wreck. And she also has a husband who doesn't show any empathy/sympathy for her, especially now that the baby is teething and simply refuses to sleep through the night. He's annoyed, but she is terribly sleep-deprived, entirely overwhelmed by her life's circumstances. Louise slowly spirals down into madness - or does she? The coming of the new lodger tips the scales for her, from "barely surviving, all things considered" to night-wanderings, "misplacing" the baby (several times) and a slow realization that said lodger may not be what she appears to be. With complaints coming in on all sides about her poor performance as a wife, mother and neighbor, and her general inability to cope, poor Louise just can't seem to do anything right. When she begins to suspect that the lodger is "up to something..." (and only has a nosy neighborhood boy who agrees) emotionally she's pretty much thrown to the wolves by all her friends and her - supposedly - loving hubby. The general attitude around her is that not only was she a quite wimpy little housewife before the baby's birth, now that she's also sleep-deprived and the baby is causing problems with the neighbors (and her husband) it seems to all her friends and family members that she's finally "losing it". But *is* she? The smoothness of Fremlin's writing allows the reader to not *quite* believe either story, that Louise is going mad or the lodger is up to something - either is likely, and even both just might be true. It's an excellent little domestic horror story 1950s style, and therein lies its only true weakness. It hasn't aged well, alas. The overly-submissive, worry-wart little wifey was not only a staple of novels in the 1950s, she was also quite prevalent in real life, although most women today may not believe it. "Go along to get along" was the general attitude, as many wives simply didn't press for their own likes, interests, hopes, ideas. For many women pretty much everything was subservient to The Husband's Wishes, and pleasing him was Job No. One. And when you get someone like Louise who obviously has what we would now call "confidence issues", well.... And that lodger does seem rather creepy. Right from the get-go she exhibits questionable behaviors, but there's nothing startling, nothing that truly sets the alarms going off. It's very subtly done, and therein lies Fremlin's talent. Yes, parts of this are now awfully familiar plot devices - and I'm quite certain that you'll guess at least part of what's going on fairly easily and early-on in the story. And there were endless passages about taking care of children According to the Authorities rules that bored me silly. And some of the then-currently popular psychologizing seems funny now. But Fremlin treats that sort of thing with a nicely light hand, all the while allowing us to see Louise's uncertainties as she tries to deal with impossibly conflicting needs and responsibilities. Poor Louise is definitely a bit of a fluffy space-shot of a woman, but she's kind and loving and truly tries her hardest to make everything work well for her family. Whether or not she is mad, becomes mad, or only sees madness around her is slowly and carefully presented, with beautiful pacing after you get through the slow-moving baby-centric set-up business at the beginning (it's important stuff, actually...). I can easily see why this won an Edgar - it's smooth, creepy, actually quite psychologically sound in many ways and terrifically observant (Fremlin must have herself had children recently....). Her depiction of what we would now call Post-Partum depression is fascinating. Although it's my opinion that a good deal of her trouble for Louise, at least at first, was due to sleep deprivation. But even that can easily push anyone over-the-edge, can't it? Whatever the cause, The Henderson's nice suburban life slowly goes awry, with pretty much everything going from bad-to-worse. The ending is a bit of a formulaic let-down, alas, but perhaps in the 1950s it was rather sensational. I'd give it the benefit of the doubt, given the high quality of most of her writing, and her terrific ability to keep the reader guessing. Recommended for those who enjoy classic suspensers.

  • Kristen
    2019-03-18 06:07

    This was a wonderful, tight, suspenseful book, with careful attention to the cares and difficulties of parenting and marriage. I might have given it five stars were it not for the marriage at the center of the book. Louise, the barely-hanging-on main character, is sympathetic and realistic and exhausted from the daily chores required of her as a housewife and mother. Her husband, Mark, however, made me wish I could make the characters materialize so that I could do him physical harm. It was almost startling to me that Louise never seemed seriously upset with him, no matter how careless and cruel and selfish he was. In the end, I enjoyed the suspense, but was mostly left with a deep sense of relief that I do not live in the 1950s.

  • Rosemary
    2019-02-22 06:15

    This is the mystery for young mothers who are so tired that they've begun to lose their grip on reality. The bookseller at Murder by the Book recommended it to me when my children were little--and what a perfect selection it was for one who wandered the house at night, rocking and soothing a crying baby, finally dozing, then waking up not know what room she was in.

  • Yvonne Tibbs
    2019-03-02 01:08

    My all time favorite! Nothing fancy just a good spooky little book about ordinary people.

  • Noreen
    2019-03-21 05:15

    Any mother, young or old, can appreciate this humor of an exhausted women raising children. This book is no longer in print but if you can get your hands on a copy you will keep it!

  • Kath
    2019-02-23 08:59

    Originally written in 1958, this was Celia Fremlin's debut novel, winning the Edgar award for Best novel in 1960. She then went on to have a successful and interesting career and indeed life. This is the first book I have read by her. Indeed, to my shame, I had never heard of her prior to this book. This is something however, I am quite eager to remedy in the future. This book follows main character Louise who is trying to juggle domesticity with three small children. Sleep deprived and getting little help from anyone, she struggles with the day to day chores and her grasp on reality is slowly slipping away from her. When the family takes in a lodger, at the same time as things start to spiral out of control for Louise, she can't help but speculate whether the lodger is playing a bigger roll in her downfall. Several things happen to make her query her own sanity and, with others dismissive of her fears, takes it upon herself to find out what is really going on.I have read quite a few crime novels set in this era and I have found the majority to be timeless in their readability. This novel was no different and it was refreshingly easy to slip back in time and follow events from that era.I found the relationship between husband and wife to be well presented. In those days, the wife's job was homemaker and mother and the husband didn't contribute to the household apart from as provider. Louise's descriptions of her daily life, in the days without time-saving gadgets was an eye opener for me. Scrubbing floors to a weekly timetable, preparing meals to the second the husband requires, especially when he pops home to see her at mid day because he thinks she need some support when all the while he is just causing her more grief having to cater for another! The book is quite creepy in nature too. But subtly rather than the more in-your-face way that books seem to be written these days. Its a slow burner that chips away at Louise's sanity every so often having her question the next strange thing. It's also refreshing and quite eye-opening to see the aftermath of what happened. How the British stiff upper lip shone through and the way that people simply just got on with things in those days, mostly over a nice cup of tea.My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

  • Chrissi
    2019-03-05 01:18

    I was immediately intrigued by this book because it was billed as the original psychological thriller. If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of thrillers. This book was originally published in the 1950s. I was interested to see how it translated now.The Hours Before Dawn tells the story of Louise who has recently had a baby boy who just won’t stop crying. She has two girls and a husband to keep as well. Louise’s life appears to be falling apart and her husband is pretty oblivious to everything around him. He is annoyed about the baby crying all the time and puts pressure on Louise to sort it all out. Others around Louise believe she is spiralling into madness. But is it madness or something else? Louise’s new lodger is not quite what she seems. Louise is suspicious that something is happening with the lodger, but not many believe Louise…I really liked how the author didn’t seem to throw us any clues. It could have been Louise going mad or the lodger getting up to something. It was hard to believe in a character, they are both quite unreliable and I loved that element of the story. Celia Fremlin was clearly a talented author. She writes such great characters and doesn’t easily give away what’s happening. I found it to be a creepy read and interesting look into 1950s life.I think part of my problem with the story is that it hasn’t aged as well as it could have done. Sure, if you read it in the mindset that it was the 1950s then you can imagine that Louise was a perfect character to represent a stay at home mum/wife. I think women now are much more likely to fight against that type of life.I think you’d enjoy this book if you like to read a high quality, mysterious, creepy read.

  • Annie
    2019-03-02 01:10

    Oh, has there ever been another book more appropriate to my life? Louise is a mother whose baby does not sleep. He has her up at all hours of the night and she is exhausted and delirious. The descriptions of how she felt were like reading about my own life. Rushing to get the crying baby at 2 a.m. and feeding, rocking, bouncing for ages only to have him wake as soon as she put him back in the crib. I have to say it somehow made me feel a little less hopeless knowing that a fictional woman 60 years ago went through the same thing as I am going through now. Unfortunately for Louise, she also had an unsupportive husband, 2 other children, and a new lodger who makes Louise nervous and uneasy. The story really revolves around Louise's lack of sleep and disconnection on top of some mystery surrounding the woman boarding with them. The story itself wasn't anything spectacular, but I did enjoy it both for its relevance to my own life as well as seeing how different things were in other ways in the 1950s. Louise would leave the baby home alone while she ran her daughters to school or leave him sitting in the pram in the garden while she did housework. The husband was awful, always yelling at Louise, "Can't you make the baby stop crying?" "We never should have had the brat!" "Can't you make them stop banging the door?" It was her responsibility to control the children, I guess, while also making sure to have his food prepared on time, have the house cleaned, and not let the baby's crying disturb him. While I felt a sort of bond with Louise over the sleep issues and I was interested in some of the cultural differences of the time period, the story itself was just okay.

  • Taamra Segal
    2019-03-13 09:11

    WOW! what an amazing book, I can't believe I've only just discovered this masterpiece from 1958. I read The Hours Before Dawn in 2 sittings and it's a highly tense, suspenseful thriller in a domestic setting (my favorite kind). It's tells the story of Louise, a mother of 3 small children who can't get enough sleep and on top of her 3 very active kids (including a permanently screaming baby), she has to make sure her husband is looked after, her neighbours don't get disturbed and her home is clean. The book, I'm sure, has feminist undertones, which was really great to read from a work published in 1958! I found the bits about motherhood and raising children especially touching and the words really maje you think about everything that is expected (even today) from a woman. Louise and her family take in a lodger, Vera, and things soon start going haywire.•The story was unique because of Louise's sleep deprivation, you never know when she's dreaming, when she's awake and when she's quite possibly gone mad. Absolutely BRILLIANT and with a twist at the end that stands up to any 2017 thriller. I loved this book so much that I'm going to try digging up Celia Fremlin's other 16+ thrillers that she wrote. Reprinted recently, #TheHoursBeforeDawn is a must-read tense thriller

  • Ashley Lambert-Maberly
    2019-02-24 01:52

    An early relative of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, a domestic drama with an unreliable narrator (well, she's reliable, but she's so sleep-deprived that she gets confused), and a wonderful sense of lurking danger without being sure what might be coming and who might be the cause.The author does a wonderful job of capturing the sensation of just-barely-coping with a baby who won't sleep--I'll never forget that--and is worth reading for that alone. It's beautifully written, she's a marvelous writer.If you're expecting an action-packed thrill ride, this is not the book. Aside from a few moments of high drama, not that much happens. But it's still a page-turner!(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s).

  • Wendy
    2019-02-28 02:20

    Wryly observant and brilliantly narrated - dives into the awful despair created by sleep-deprevation from an infant's unfortunate noctural waking habits.The suspense that follows sees the extraordinary sacrifices its mother makes in order to restrict any disturbance to the other members of the household and the inexplicable paranoia stirred by their engimatic lodger's presence. Whether she's imaginging things or not is very well played.There's a realitic edge to these tormented and mysterious times, during which she conducts herself with as much diginity as she can muster: the poor, young mother's inconsiderate, needy, and quite frankly blinkered family are as infuriating as her critical, gossiping, two-faced neighbours! By the way, the title on the cover and the spine on my book actually glows in the dark, which is a pretty cool touch given its storyline. Great read!

  • Boris Cesnik
    2019-03-21 05:19

    Nothing prepared me for the story I've just read. No other crime/mystery/suspense/thriller books bears any similarity to this one. I had never come across such a story before. Yes you may find hints of Shirley Jackson, Ruth Rendell possibly...but are you sure? This books is on another level. I had no expectation, I didn't know or want to know where the story was going. I had wishes. I had hopes. I had fears.The evil everyday, the inhuman routine, the unintelligible humanity are all protagonists.You see yourself no matter who you are. The story is like a mirror reflecting your image with all its worries, fears, incomprehensions, apathy and sense of losing...but losing what?Forget the ending, somehow more conventional than hoped...just saviour every single word, line, passage and page that have no equal in the field.Doubt yourself.

  • Daniela Kraml
    2019-02-22 06:05

    You don't have to live in the 1950'is to experience a lot of the things this young mother is going through. I was forever thinking "Why, you too?". Other mothers with "opinions", lack of sleep, and sometimes you are so tired you don't know what's what, boy could I relate to that. Thankfully the creepy crime creeping in was all in the book.Wonderful read, sometimes depressing, sometimes funny, and sometimes chilling.

  • Hazel McHaffie
    2019-02-26 01:19

    An early example of a domestic thriller recently re-published. It captures the sheer relentlessness of early motherhood and the fine line between sanity and madness, truth and fantasy, dream and nightmare. The pervasive sense of threat in this everyday humdrum setting builds almost imperceptibly. Clever writing. Good to see its value recognised so many decades on.

  • Deryn Guest
    2019-03-05 02:12

    I thought I had solved the mystery as I reached the final pages but no, Frome delivers the resolution to her excellent plot with panache. In style, Fremlin's book reminded me of Elizabeth Taylor's novels; quietly observant, devastatingly critical, exceptionally well written. Fremlin takes us back, convincingly, into the 1950s and portrays the times and the lives of mothers particularly well.

  • Bernie
    2019-03-15 09:02

    This was an amazing book and I am so glad it was recommended in a list of horror/suspense novels written by women (in It was also very funny, in its wry observations of human behavior. Can't wait to read more by this author!