The Darkest Hour - Barbara Erskine

1st November 2014


Art-dealer Lucy Standish is given a grant to write a biography of war-time artist Evie Lucas.  Despite being well-respected in the art world, there are so few of Evie’s paintings outside of private collections and little is known of her life. 

The story is told across two timelines; the first, at the beginning of Evie’s art career in the 1940s as she experiences romance, exploitation and tragedy; the other is told in the present day as Lucy is given unfettered access to her cottage studio by Michael Marston, Evie’s great-grandson, where she aims to piece together old documents, paintings and letters to tell Evie’s story.

Lucy’s late husband had purchased an unsigned painting reportedly by Evie before his death, and as it was being restored, a figure of an RAF pilot was discovered under a previously blank area of the painting.  Who was he, and why was he painted out of the picture?  There are some however who want the family secrets to remain buried, and Lucy faces increasing danger as a malevolent figure aims to ensure Evie’s true story is never told.

The narrative flicks back and forth between the two time-lines, and flows quite smoothly on the whole.  However there are some aspects of the plot during which it becomes quite hard to suspend belief, and it does feel like it plods along at some stages.  The book was enjoyable enough without ever really being enthralling, and could probably have been 50 pages or so shorter to cut out the more mundane aspects of the plot.

I received this book for free as part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway, in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5 stars