I was lucky enough to receive The Hour of Daydreams by Renee M. Rutledge on Netgalley. This has not affected my views in any way.
At a river near his home in the Philippine countryside, respected doctor Manolo Lualhati encounters the unthinkable—a young woman with wings. After several incredible visits, he coaxes her to stay behind—to quit flying to the stars with her sisters each night—so they can marry. Tala agrees, but soon finds herself grounded in a new life where she must negotiate Manolo’s parents’ well-intentioned scrutiny. As Tala tries to keep long-held family secrets from her new husband, Manolo begins questioning the gaps in her stories, and his suspicions push him even further from the truth. Weaving in the perspectives of Manolo’s parents, Tala’s siblings, and the all-seeing housekeeper, The Hour of Daydreams delves into contemporary issues of identity and trust in marriage, while exploring how myths can take root from the seeds of our most difficult truths.
I honestly am not quite sure what to make of this book. The Hour of Daydreams is based on a Filipino folktale – however, after a brief Google, I wasn’t quite sure what folktale this exactly is. There are seven sisters, one of whom marries a countryside doctor. The sister has wings, which the doctor hides from her in an attempt to make her stay with him forever. (It reminded me a lot of the selkie myth, actually.) If any of you know, please leave a comment! I think half the fun of using a folktale as a basis for a story is seeing how the author has changed it, and whether it will indeed come to its (often depressing) conclusion. I didn’t get that experience with this one.
I absolutely adored the writing style – I’m not sure whether to quite classify it as magical realism, but it definitely has that dreamy sort of aspect. At one point, grandmothers can make the entire barrio take a nap (except for naughty children, of course!) and fish rain down from the sky. It really reminded me of When the Moon was Ours. I love that sort of lush prose, so that aspect of the book really spoke to me. This was especially because it was intermittently paired with the gritty reality of poverty and prostitution. I loved that juxtaposition.
To be quite frank, this wasn’t the book for me. I think that if I had been familiar with the folktale, and perhaps also Filipino culture, I would have understood it more. However, for those who are, I think that The Hour of Daydreams will be an extremely enjoyable read.