Justin Go’s ambitious novel The Steady Running of the Hour travels California to Iceland and from the 1920s through present day, creating a tale about money, family, love and forgiveness.
Tristan Campbell receives word that he may be the recipient of a very large inheritance. May, being the operative word, since it isn’t really 100% clear that he is the heir to Imogen Soames-Andersson and Ashley Walsingham, it’s only strongly implied. Tristan needs to prove that he is, in fact, related to the freewheeling, liberal woman and the WWI vet and mountain climber in eight weeks or else he will forfeit the fortune.
Immediately, he dispatches to Europe and burrows down a rabbit hole of clues, each one bringing him to another place where Ashley and Imogen spent time. Go is able to weave Tristan and Ashley’s stories together simultaneously, so while one chapter has Tristan investigating a clue near the farm in France where Ashley is stationed, the next shows what Ashley was actually up to. The juxtaposition of the storytelling was brilliant, and Tristan’s smarts at being able to figure out seemingly far-fetched links between clues and being able to get information out of unfriendly Europeans was very entertaining.
Ashley and Imogen meet in England a few days before he is about to ship out to the trenches of France during WWI. They fall in love, and the love story continues through Ashley’s return and choice to join the party to climb Mt. Everest. The war chapters were exceptionally detailed, with one particular scene in which Ashley stumbles upon the sick chamber of the German troops especially gruesome. Likewise, the Everest expedition was eerily fantastic, including the sad finale and realistic attitudes of the fellow climbers.
Tristan meets a girl in Paris who he has a connection with, but can’t look past solving this puzzle and getting the inheritance. Imogen wants Ashley to leave the army and be with her after she becomes pregnant but he refuses, citing honor. Stubbornness is a theme in this book, and how being stubborn might make you lose what you hold dear. Without giving too much away, the ending was a little bit of a letdown, only because of the beautiful writing that made the characters come to life. Some resolution beyond what was written would have been more satisfying.
Jax is in an accountant at a hedge fund. She resides in NYC with her husband.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.