The Hour of Daydreams
Michelle Anne Schingler
A woman with wings is pulled down from the stars by the despairing god of the river, and is chained to the earth by his jealous love. Simultaneously, a village doctor’s affection becomes a place of refuge for a young woman with a troubled past.
These stories are both separate and one in Renee Macalino Rutledge’s stunning, dreamy novel The Hour of Daydreams, which borrows from Filipino folktales to create a story of love and loss that is unlike any other.
“Every one of us contains a depth that could never be seen or reached by another person,” reflects Manolo as he gazes into a night sky—a vista that he once pulled fantasies from, and to where he fears his beloved wife, Tala, might wish to return. He hopes that his adoration is enough to bind Tala to him, enough to make their separate pasts part of one sustaining tapestry—though he’s willing to resort to subterfuge if love is not enough.
Tala, meanwhile, is both happy in her marriage and consumed by building a world around it that is both unlike, and connected to, her world before: where her sisters can once more help to weave magic into the universe; where flight is possible; where all stories are interconnected.
The voice of Manolo and Tala’s child rests, featherweight, above the stories of their early marriage, informing their longing and foreshadowing their ends, which could never be punctuated with “happily ever after,” despite their most concerted efforts.
Nothing is certain in this undulating tale. Beauty can turn to haggardness in an instant; love to brutality; magic to deceit. Truth is more a story line that one chooses than it is an absolute. Trust and resentment, forgiveness and need: the demands, complexities, and shortfalls of love also direct this familiar and uncanny story, and the result is captivating.
The Hour of Daydreams is both a fairy tale and a lament—a book that reaches toward human possibilities while reflecting on the price of personal failings.
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