Author: Lia Louis
Narrator: Emma Powell
Audiobook Length: 8 hours 12 minutes
On a snowy evening in March, 30-something Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her old college when disaster strikes. With a blizzard closing off roads, she finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone. All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear.
The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other again, but fate, it seems, has a different plan. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there truly is no such thing as coincidence. With plenty of charming twists and turns and Lia Louis’s “bold, standout voice” (Gillian McAllister, author of The Good Sister), Eight Perfect Hours is a gorgeously crafted novel that will make you believe in the power of fate.
While the synopsis of Eight Perfect Hours states that this novel takes place during the snowy season in March, the cover and heartwarming nature of the story give it a holiday feel. The story explores the idea of serendipity where two characters’ fates are intertwined as the universe has them continuously cross paths. Since this story is a single perspective, the reader experiences one side of the equation and must infer the other party’s thoughts through their interactions. This story follows 32-years-old Noelle Butterby whose life has not turned out how she thought it would and how fate may intervene to give her a new chance.
When Noelle is on her way home from a college reunion, she is stranded during a blizzard along with other drivers on the M4. One of these drivers is American, Sam Attwood, who offers her assistance when her phone dies and the two of them spend eight hours together as the roads clear. The two of them part thinking that they will never see each other again, but they keep having random interactions as their destinies become intertwined. Their time together sets up the initial bond the two share and is explored throughout the rest of the story during each interaction. For me, this portion of the novel seemed too short considering it is the title of the story. While I loved the simplicity in the two characters helping each other during the snowstorm, I would have loved some expansion. While it was apparent that the two characters shared a connection, it did not feel significant enough to be something that sticks with either.
While this story includes the romantic element, most of the time is dedicated to Noelle figuring out some balance in her life. After losing her best friend, Daisy, in a car accident, she is dealing with heartache. She also put many of her dreams on hold to care for her mother. Noelle’s dream involves flowers and she currently does arrangements to post on social media, for now. Her friend Charlie, who is married to Theo, and together they have a daughter, Petal, have their own story that ties together with Noelle. Everything in this story weaves together to explore postpartum depression, mental health, family dynamics, and grief. For the romance portion, Noelle and Sam each are involved with other people and have additional reasons that their meetings are nothing more than coincidences.
Overall, I liked the premise of the story and the idea of fate. There are many emotions in this story as Noelle navigates her life, which meant many times the romance element took a back seat. While I did not mind this, it was just different from the story I expected. The emotional elements actually were the most enjoyable parts of this story as I was more invested in Noelle trying to find a way to have a dream without abandoning everything else in her life. This was a very enjoyable story about second chances in many ways and about seizing opportunities. Together the elements in this story were enjoyable and made me intrigued to try more of the other novels by this author.