A Tangle of Paranoia – The Darkening Hour by Penny Hancock

Posted by Justine Solomons on 5 December 2013, in Recommendations

Review written by Richard Wood.

You can buy this book here.

Hancock paints a cloying backdrop of South London to frame a gripping and fraught examination of the power struggle between employer and employee – a timely examination of the role and repression of women within the construct of the modern home and their voice, or lack thereof.

Told in dual narrative by Theodora, jaded middle-class mother, and Mona her Moroccan hired help, the two women are thrown together into a mutual dependency that quickly begins to stagnate and ultimately leads to the tragic conclusion. Hancock presents a relationship of suspicion and envy as both women struggle to protect their loved ones as the power in the household constantly shifts between them.

The Darkening Hour, as the title suggests, presents a real sense of urgency as the narrative speeds along offering up the differing voices of the two women and how they see the world through vastly different eyes. It is a study of race relation and class struggle, a damning narrative of how these social constructs fail to coexist within the household. There is a sense of the world closing in, the dying of the light – a suffocating sense of inevitability which made The Darkening Hour a book that I couldn’t put down.

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