'A moving story about the nature of love and redemption set amidst the worst of the London Blitz and the destruction of London’s hallowed seat of law. Adam Falling is a failing, sick barrister married to Catherine but conducting an affair with the glamorous Julia, who happens to be the wife of his Head of Chambers, Jeremy Pemberton. Julia, fearful of losing her children, suddenly ends the affair. But it is too late. Pemberton discovers it and Adam is kicked out of his home and his chambers. Unable to work without a chambers and facing ruin, salvation comes in the unlikely form of the brilliant barrister, Roland (“Roly”) Blytheway. Blythway, held back in his career because of his sexuality, befriends him and invites him to join his chambers at Lamb Building. It is there he finds himself defending a Czech refugee, Tomas Novak, who has been accused of treason and who is facing the gallows and becomes mired in another contested divorce case for one Arnold Bateman, where he, on the recommendation of Pemberton, represents the co-respondent whilst Pemberton represents the petitioner.
Whilst the Blitz rages on around, can Adam save Novak from the gallows? Can he get Bateman off? Will he ever discover why Julia suddenly broke off their affair? Can he succeed in resisting Jeremy’s claims against him personally? He has been told that only one man can possibly save him and that man is Roland Blytheway.'
At the Dark Hour is the story of ordinary people caught in the horror of war whilst the city is destroyed around them. It features many of the most notable real life events of the Blitz such as the bombing of the Café de Paris.
The lives of the characters from Adam to Julia and many of the background characters, are written very well. For example, Adam represents a refugee accused of committing treason and the other two cases are about adultery. Divorce within London and the UK at the time had to have a person at fault, e.g. being trialled for adultery or domestic violence, there had to be someone to fault for their actions within the marriage. Adam is representing a man accused of adultery in his first case, this case is very interesting. Learning about what Adam is going to do, to help his clients and help them. His piecing the puzzle together, I found fast-paced and fascinating.
Going against the usual dialogue style, the Author has decided not to use common punctuation, however I found it to be a style that was easy to read, and in the Author doing this, I think it represents the disjointed lives of those who lived during the Blitz.
John Wilson does an upstanding job of explaining the lives of the characters and the amount of background information we receive is really what helps understand the detail, and having Adam as the central character, means the ensemble of characters all centre around one person. This is a style I enjoy in novels as I like reading mainly one view point. As soon as the courtroom trials take place and Adam is researching his case, is when the story really gets going. At the Dark Hour, is a fascinating read and unlike any historical work of fiction that I have read in a long time.
The book as a historical fiction novel, is highly engaging and very interesting. It is actually one of the first books set in the era of the blitz that I have read. One thing I enjoyed in particular was the fact that you are able to get involved with the characters as we know lots about them. I liked the short snappy dialogue that was used and the aspect of London during the Blitz was emotive to read and I think truly captures what London was like. Overall, a great new historical fiction novel about the Blitz and the people who would have lived and loved within that time frame. I highly recommend it!
John Wilson has written or contributed to a number of academic text books, written very many articles and is a published poet.
Wilson drew on his many years of experience of family law (and in the early days criminal law) and upon the misogyny and homophobia which were characteristic of the law at the time the novel is set.