The Invisible Hour

Atria. Aug. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781982175375. $27.99. F
Hoffman (The Book of Magic) again brings a touch of the otherworldly to serious issues in a novel opening with Ivy Jacob’s flight from her tony Boston home when she becomes pregnant. Finding refuge at a Western Massachusetts commune, she immediately comes under the control of Joel, the commune’s leader. He allows commune members no personal possessions, not even books, and he denies them families of their own, administering punishments to those who disobey. Ivy knows she has made a mistake but cannot leave, and daughter Mia grows up at the commune, chafing at the rules. Mia secretly goes to the town library, where she finds a copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter with an inexplicable dedication to her on the flyleaf. When Ivy is killed in a freak accident, Mia decides that it’s time to escape, but Joel still stalks her. One magical day, she is transported to 1837 and meets Hawthorne, encouraging him to write the book that will save her life more than a century later.
VERDICT Hoffman’s integrated storylines effectively highlight the subjugation of women throughout time, with results that will appeal to a wide range of fiction readers.
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