A gorgeously surreal story of a woman who may or may not be an angel, and the family she affects. Manolo is a small-town doctor in Manlapaz, the Philippines, who one day encounters an angel bathing in the river. Or is she just an ordinary girl running away from a future of prostitution and abuse? Neither Manolo nor his daughter, the product of this union and the narrator of the tale, can ever be entirely sure.
The book is framed with Malaya, the daughter’s, search for the true story of her mother and her heritage. Inside we are given flashbacks from the points of view of the various characters, some suggesting a supernatural origin for Malaya’s mother, and hence Malaya herself, and some suggesting something much more tragic and sordid. This shifting patchwork of narration gradually resolves into a coherent story, although the temptation to stitch everything together into an overly tidy ending is resisted, and what is left is more of an impressionistic sketch of a plot and resolution rather than a clear A=B conclusion, like the daydreams suggested in the title. Instead, the reader is treated to a setting redolent with the scents, sounds, and sights of the Philippines, populated with folk beliefs and supernatural entities just on the edge of ordinary life. The language itself is lyrical and evocative, plunging the reader into the river of dreams and the subconscious that runs through the text as the physical river runs through the story. A beautiful addition to genre of magic realism and Filipino literature.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Get it here: The Hour of Daydreams
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