Review: The Hourglass by Liz Heron

The Hourglass by Liz Heron

Publication Date: October 25, 2018
eBook & Paperback; 276 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Spring 2000. Paul Geddes visits Venice to research the fin-de-siècle opera singer, Esme Maguire, seeking out a cache of papers held by Eva Forrest, the widow of a collector. What he reads begins in the 1680s, moving through the city's later history of Enlightenment and Revolution, describing a life stretched beyond human possibilities.

She travels across Europe to sing in Regency London and Edinburgh, then Belle Epoque Paris, always returning to Venice, its shadows and its luminosity, its changes and its permanence.

What would it be like to live for nearly 300 years, as an exceptional being who must renew herself time after time, as those she has loved age and die? Could this story be grounded in reality or be merely the product of an ageing woman's delusion, as Paul suspects.

Warily, Eva and Paul fall in love, their tentative emotions bringing them closer until, on a trip to the Dolomites, Eva's past catches up with her.

My Review


Well, this was certainly a unique and intriguing read! I love books that feature artists - probably because I don't have an artistic bone in my body and those that do are fascinating to me. Add in a dual story-line and a woman whose life spans 300 years and I'm there! Per the author, The Hourglass was inspired by Janacek’s opera The Makropulos Case, in which a singer lives for nearly 300 years.

"I do not tire of life, but sometimes I tire of being endlessly remade."

Heron has a unique way of writing that took me a little bit to get into, but once I did it had a great flow to it and I found it compelling.

Paul Geddes is a lover of Opera and has been fascinated with Opera singer, Esme Maguire, since reading an article about her. He reaches out to Eva Forrest who has more information on Esme. As the story progresses we follow Paul, on his quest for more of Esme's story, and his relationship with Eva. Switching between Paul's story we also hear from Esme herself as she narrates her life, her loves, her relationships, and how she reinvents herself over the span of her very long life. As she reinvents herself (changing her name every time, but always with the initials E.M.), traveling to different countries to start anew, the readers are taken on an international virtual tour of the most beautiful places in the world, and witness to some of the most important events in history. I must say, that part was my favorite.

If you're looking for an out-of-the-box historical novel, I recommend The Hourglass. Thanks to Anne Cater for allowing me to host the blog tour!

About the Author

Liz Heron grew up in Scotland and studied at Glasgow University. After living in Paris, Madrid and Venice, she embarked on freelance life in London, contributing arts and literary journalism to Spare Rib, The New Statesman, The Listener, The Village Voice, New Society, The Guardian and many other publications. Her literary translations from French and Italian range from Georges Bataille and Giorgio Agamben to the novels of Paola Capriolo. Her own books include Truth, Dare or Promise, a compilation of essays on childhood, and Streets of Desire, an anthology of women’s 20th-century writing on the world’s great cities, both published by Virago, as was her short-story collection, A Red River (1996).

Liz began researching her novel, The Hourglass, during her second spell of life in Venice.

Her website is She writes a blog, mainly on film:

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