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Magic Hour
Cover of Magic Hour
Magic Hour
A Novel

BONUS: This edition contains a Magic Hour discussion guide.

In the rugged Pacific Northwest lies the Olympic National Forest--nearly a million acres of impenetrable darkness and impossible beauty. From deep within this old growth forest, a six-year-old girl appears. Speechless and alone, she offers no clue as to her identity, no hint of her past.

Having retreated to her western Washington hometown after a scandal left her career in ruins, child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates is determined to free the extraordinary little girl she calls Alice from a prison of unimaginable fear and isolation. To reach her, Julia must discover the truth about Alice's past--although doing so requires help from Julia's estranged sister, a local police officer. The shocking facts of Alice's life test the limits of Julia's faith and strength, even as she struggles to make a home for Alice--and for herself. In Magic Hour, Kristin Hannah creates one of her most beloved characters, and delivers an incandescent story about the resilience of the human spirit, the triumph of hope, and the meaning of home.

BONUS: This edition contains a Magic Hour discussion guide.

In the rugged Pacific Northwest lies the Olympic National Forest--nearly a million acres of impenetrable darkness and impossible beauty. From deep within this old growth forest, a six-year-old girl appears. Speechless and alone, she offers no clue as to her identity, no hint of her past.

Having retreated to her western Washington hometown after a scandal left her career in ruins, child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates is determined to free the extraordinary little girl she calls Alice from a prison of unimaginable fear and isolation. To reach her, Julia must discover the truth about Alice's past--although doing so requires help from Julia's estranged sister, a local police officer. The shocking facts of Alice's life test the limits of Julia's faith and strength, even as she struggles to make a home for Alice--and for herself. In Magic Hour, Kristin Hannah creates one of her most beloved characters, and delivers an incandescent story about the resilience of the human spirit, the triumph of hope, and the meaning of home.

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  • Chapter One ONE

    It will all be over soon.

    Julia Cates had lost count of the times she'd told herself that very thing, but today—finally—it would be true. In a few hours the world would know the truth about her.

    If she made it downtown, that was. Unfortunately, the Pacific Coast Highway looked more like a parking lot than a freeway. The hills behind Malibu were on fire again; smoke hung above the rooftops and turned the normally bright coastal air into a thick brown sludge. All over town terrified babies woke in the middle of the night, crying gray-black tears and gasping for breath. Even the surf seemed to have slowed down, as if exhausted by the unseasonable heat.

    She maneuvered through the cranky, stop-and-go traffic, ignoring the drivers who flipped her off and cut in front of her. It was expected; in this most dangerous of seasons in Southern California, tempers caught fire as easily as backyards. The heat made everyone edgy.

    Finally, she exited the freeway and drove to the courthouse.

    Television vans were everywhere. Dozens of reporters huddled on the courthouse steps, microphones and cameras at the ready, waiting for the story to arrive. In Los Angeles it was becoming a daily event, it seemed; legal proceedings as entertainment. Michael Jackson. Courtney Love. Robert Blake.

    Julia turned a corner and drove to a side entrance, where her lawyers were waiting for her.

    She parked on the street and got out of the car, expecting to move forward confidently, but for a terrible second she couldn't move. You're innocent, she reminded herself. They'll see that. The system will work. She forced herself to take a step, then another. It felt as if she were moving through invisible wires, fighting her way uphill. When she made it to the group, it took everything she had to smile, but one thing she knew: it looked real. Every psychiatrist knew how to make a smile look genuine.

    "Hello, Dr. Cates," said Frank Williams, the lead counsel on her defense team. "How are you?"

    "Let's go," she said, wondering if she was the only one who heard the wobble in her voice. She hated that evidence of her fear. Today, of all days, she needed to be strong, to show the world that she was the doctor they'd thought she was, that she'd done nothing wrong.

    The team coiled protectively around her. She appreciated their support. Although she was doing her best to appear professional and confident, it was a fragile veneer. One wrong word could strip it all away.

    They pushed through the doors and walked into the courthouse.

    Flashbulbs erupted in spasms of blue-white light. Cameras clicked; tape rolled. Reporters surged forward, all yelling at once.

    "Dr. Cates! How do you feel about what happened?"

    "Why didn't you save those children?"

    "Did you know about the gun?"

    Frank put an arm around Julia and pulled her against his side. She pressed her face against his lapel and let herself be pulled along.

    In the courtroom, she took her place at the defendant's table. One by one the team rallied around her. Behind her, in the first row of gallery seating, several junior associates and paralegals took their places.

    She tried to ignore the racket behind her; the doors creaking open and slamming shut, footsteps hurrying across the marble tiled floor, whispered voices. Empty seats were filling up quickly; she knew it without turning around. This courtroom was the Place to Be in Los Angeles today,...
About the Author-
  • Kristin Hannah is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many acclaimed novels, including The Great Alone, The Nightingale, and Fly Away. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 28, 2005
    Hannah's melodramatic 15th novel (after The Things We Do for Love
    ) tells the addictive soap opera story of a feral child and the adults who rally to help her. The cast of stock characters is led by child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates, whose reputation was ruined when she failed to prevent a teen patient from staging a Columbine-style massacre. Her sister, Ellie Barton, a smalltown former homecoming queen–turned–chief of police, summons Julia from Los Angeles to their Pacific Northwest hometown of Rain Valley to take on the case of a mysterious lost child, who appeared one day on the edge of town, presumably raised by wolves. With the dashing doctor Dr. Max Cerrasin at her side, Julia works diligently to tame the mute girl, whom she names Alice. Max, like Julia, is running from demons of his own. Though she initially rebuffs his overtures ("When I love, I risk my heart. All or nothing," Julia declares), their romance inevitably blossoms while they work to solve the mystery of Alice's parentage. The novel's real love story, though, is the passion between Alice and Julia, and it's hard not to root for the vulnerable little Wolf Girl.

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2005
    Having lost face and confidence after a patient commits murder, child psychiatrist Julia Cates returns to her hometown of Rain Valley, WA, at the request of the chief of police -her sister, Ellie. A young girl has been found in a tree, growling like an animal, unable to communicate in any way. Who is she? Where did she come from? Is she a kidnap victim or a -wild child -? With the assistance of Ellie, hunky doctor Max Cerrasin, and a few odd townsfolk, Julia employs patience and her expertise to try to bring -Alice - back to the world. But news of the girl's situation reaches the media, and now Julia's past garners more attention than her skill. We also see how Ellie's beauty-queen history has affected her romantic entanglements and discover the issues that Dr. Max keeps hidden but that speak to Julia's heart. Hannah ("The Things We Do for Love") has created a quirky little community where everyone knows everyone else's business. She strews a few boulders in the paths of our cast of characters, but, ultimately, they all come to the realization that -love is all you need. - Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, "LJ "11/1/05.]" -Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal"

    Copyright 2005 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    December 15, 2005
    Although a judge rules in her favor, child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates is found guilty of incompetence in the press. Her entire life has centered on her exclusive practice, and now all her patients have abandoned her. Salvation comes unexpectedly at the behest of her estranged sister, Ellie, the chief of police in their hometown of Rain Valley, Washington. Julia never wanted to go back to their small logging town, where she was the scrawny bookworm and Ellie was the homecoming queen, but now, even though they refuse to admit it, the sisters need each other as they try to save a young girl found in a forest in the company of a wolf. She behaves like an animal and doesn't speak. Julia works hard to break the mute silence of the mysterious little girl; Ellie tries to find out where she belongs; and both of them defend the girl they decide to call Alice against those who would exploit her. Through helping this young lost soul, Julia and Ellie learn a lot about themselves and about their relationships in one of this perennially best-selling writer's most compelling and riveting novels to date. " Magic Hour" will enhance Hannah's popularity and affirm her dominance in women's fiction. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2005, American Library Association.)

  • Luanne Rice, author of Summer of Roses

    "A wonderful novel--wild, radiant, and vivid. Kristin Hannah writes with great heart."

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    Random House Publishing Group
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A Novel
Kristin Hannah
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