Cover image for The green hour
The green hour
Tuten, Frederic.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [2002]

Physical Description:
265 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Set in Paris and New York, The Green Hour tells the story of Dominique, a brilliant art historian who has recently recovered from a bout with cancer. The novel follows Dominique from her college years to the present, unfolding a moving love story in which Dominique is torn between her passion for the idealistic and seductive Rex, who periodically disappears from her life, and her feelings for Eric, a wealthy American businessman deeply in love with her.

Woven into this romance is the equally gripping tale of Dominique's relationship with art and the cultural turmoils of our time. By portraying a character for whom love and idealism are lost, this novel hauntingly shows us the importance of pursuing both. A Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2002.

Author Notes

Frederic Tuten is the author of Tintin in the New World, The Green Hour, and Self Portraits, among other fiction. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Writing. He lives in New York City.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Tuten is fascinated by the way art brings order and grace to life, and yet how for all its spirituality, art is not enough. Here he eschews the clever narrative ploys of Tintin in the New World (1993) and Van Gogh's Bad Cafe (1997) to illuminate the refined yet bewitched mind of Dominique, a stunning art historian whose brilliant career is nearly derailed by a bout with cancer, her refusal to conform to political correctness (she persists in her study of the unhippest of dead white male artists: Poussin), and her inability to free herself from her obsession with a thrilling yet profoundly unreliable lover. Dominique, who finds "mystery and disquietude" in art, is worshiped and adored by her aging mentor, Professor Morin, and by Eric, a suave billionaire, but she cares only for sexy Rex and his serene young son, whose disappearance drives her to the depths of despair. Cosmopolitan, erotic, beautifully melancholy, and suspenseful, Tuten's intellectual romance artfully ponders the reconditeness of love, and what his chic heroine sees as Poussin's theme: "the omnipresence of Death in the center of life." --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

L'heure verte, the magic hour when Parisians go to cafes "to drown themselves in milky green absinthe," represents the exalted state of being that Dominique feels when she's with Rex, the idealistic, charming, magnetic redheaded seeker of truth she meets in college. Dominique, herself a redhead, is in many respects Rex's mirror image; she's brimming with intelligence and discernment, qualities that inspire her career as an art historian. Rex is brilliant, but he's also a manipulative and selfish womanizer and serial heartbreaker. Dominique adores him, helplessly, year after year, even as other, more caring and loving men, enter her life and exit when Rex periodically turns up after a long absence and claims their relationship is all that matters to him. Tuten's portrait of a woman who wastes her life on an ineradicable passion is no ordinary love story. A sophisticated, urbane writer, Tuten (Tintin in the New World) is interested in the relationship between art and life. The background here consists of lucid observations about painting, philosophy and literature (with clever glimpses of academic infighting), so that the novel, while a study of character, embraces art and culture as integral elements. Dominique's decision to switch her area of expertise from passionate Goya to cool, classic Poussin mirrors the downhill course of her emotional life. She truly exists only during her brief, fiery liaisons with Rex, in a relationship that's essentially only the cooling ashes of a dying flame. "Love had been her Death," she realizes, finally. Cleanly reasoned, pellucidly phrased, in some respects this novel is as "bloodless and cerebral" as Poussin's paintings, and yet as infused with emotion as Goya's. Yet its portrait of a modern woman's dilemma is, in the end, genuinely moving. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved