On my blog today I’m sharing my thoughts on Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton. I ended up finishing this book on Christmas day. The hardback and kindle edition was published on the 6th January 2020 and the paperback was published on the 20th October 2020 by Penguin.
In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.
Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news.
In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton is a brilliant, breath-taking and an utterly tense read. It is heart-breaking as well. You won’t be able to stop thinking about this book and the characters within its pages. It is so well done, and it is beautifully written.
A single bullet being fired sets off a chain of events that will keep you gripped. It’s a striking image. Rosamund Lupton sets her novel in a school in Somerset, during a snowstorm, which has become a target for terrorists. The students and teachers within the school have become hostages. The headmaster has been shot and needs urgent medical attention if he is to survive. The characters have no idea how the next couple of hours are going to pan out. The hostages have no idea if they are going to live or die. Their families have no idea if they will see them again.
I felt as though I had stepped into the character’s lives as I was reading this book. The fear and tension is on every page. When I started reading it, and when I read the blurb, I thought it sounded similar to Fierce Kingdom, which I read a few years ago. But Rosamund Lupton makes her story so unique in the voices and stories of her characters. They all feel very real, and I could imagine reading about the event, Rosamund Lupton portrays, in a newspaper or seeing it unfold on the news. It scarily feels very real.
Rosamund Lupton also peers into the psychology behind the terrorists reasons for targeting the school. The school has embraced diversity. And that is the reason why the terrorists have made it a target. It makes you angry to think that there are people actually like this, who exist in the world today. When you hear about a terrorist incident on the news, you think how awful it is, but there is often a voice in the back of your mind saying it will never happen to you. By using a school, in a rural part of the country, Rosamund Lupton shows that this can happen anywhere. It’s what makes the idea even scarier.
The image of the teachers trying to make everything appear as normal as possible for the children is very powerful. They are rehearsing the play Macbeth for the Drama class’s latest production. During these scenes, I kept thinking how scared the teachers themselves must be at the thought of a gunman, potentially multiple gunmen, patrolling the school. It’s what makes them exceptionally brave as well as they try to keep the children safe, by drawing their attention away from the danger lurking around them.
Another powerful story told in the book comes from two brothers, Rafi and Basi, who have escaped war-torn Syria and have made a home in Britain. Their stories are heart-breaking, and the flashback scenes back to when they were fleeing Syria were very strong.
I can imagine that this will be a tough read for some people. You can feel the emotion from the characters within the pages, particularly from the parents who are desperate for news of their children. I don’t have children, so I can only imagine what that fear must be like. It is an emotional roller coaster of a read that will pull at the heartstrings. I imagine I’ll be thinking about it for a very long time to come, and I’m sure it will stick in your mind too, once you have read it.
Publication date: 6th January 2020
Print length: 306 pages
Three Hours is available to buy: