The timing of the mid-November release of The Hour I First Believed (Harper) leads one to think that this is the moment — this holiday moment — that the PR mavens at Harper had in mind when they thought things through all those months ago.

A two-time Oprah pick, (for She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True) Wally Lamb tends to sell a lot of books and a lot of people seem to like them. A lot. It makes a new Lamb release a pretty safe pick for someone casting about for a last minute gift for the favorite reader in their life. More: this one is really big and fat and it has a lot of words, making it a terrific bargain by the pound. And if your giftee loved earlier books by Lamb, they’re quite likely to love this one, too.

Here Lamb takes on all the familiar Lambish tropes with matters of faith and race and love and loss and even, this time out, a smattering of danger. It is in places a dark novel, but it’s shored up by intense flashes of light. And, like previous works by this author, much of the writing is truly lovely. Even that which is ugly is given to us with the clear immediacy of the master craftsman. This is one for the list.

News Reporter

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