The Invisible Hour

S. & S. Audio. Aug. 2023. 7:44 hrs. ISBN 9781797154800. $23.99. F
Hoffman’s (The Book of Magic) latest is an ode to the power of books and reading, enhanced with a touch of magic. The story centers on Mia Jacobs, who grew up in a commune with draconian rules run by a tyrant and where reading books was forbidden. Ivy’s mother, Mia, quietly encourages her to explore beyond the boundaries of their compound. In this way, Mia discovers the world of books in the public library, where she is inexplicably drawn to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. When a crisis ensues, Mia is transported back in time, where she meets Hawthorne and embarks on a relationship that changes both of them and his work forever. Narrator Jessie Mueller offers an emotional, well-paced reading of Hoffman’s novel, beautifully conveying Mia’s enchantment when she immerses herself in the world of books. Additionally, Hoffman’s message about women’s empowerment and the ability of books to transform lives is more than poignant. Even so, the time-travel portion of the story is abrupt and disorienting, seeming like a different (and perhaps less interesting) novel altogether.
VERDICT While her somewhat clunky delivery may puzzle some listeners, Hoffman fully communicates the magic of stories.
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