By Justin Go
Simon & Schuster, $26.00, 466 pages
Young Tristan Campbell receives an unexpected letter, learning that he may be the long lost heir to an unclaimed estate. The catch is that Tristan must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is in fact related to the enigmatic Imogen and her ill-fated lover, the English mountaineer Ashley Walsingham. What follows is a two-pronged story; Tristan’s travels through Europe in search of this proof, and the passionate yet short love story between two very strong-willed people.
While the writing is fairly strong (the descriptions of Ashley in the trenches during WWI are particularly resonant), The Steady Running of the Hour loses steam in the story itself. The narrative is told in alternating voices, the first dealing with the doomed romance between Ashley and Imogen, and the second following Tristan through his historical scavenger hunt. Ashley and Imogen’s story is easily the strongest part of the novel, while poor Tristan’s excursions pale in comparison, making the narrative in its entirety feel horribly unbalanced. It seems as if the author couldn’t make up his mind what kind of book to write, a historical fiction or a personal quest, and chose instead to do both. The novel is also hugely disappointing, as none of the mysteries raised are brought to any sort of conclusion. While open-ended books are sometimes a wonderful thing, The Steady Running of the Hour will most likely leave readers feeling unsatisfied.
Reviewed by Whitney Smyth