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The Hours Before Dawn

Celia Fremlin

Discover the original psychological thriller, as a sleep deprived young mother struggles to stay sane.

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Discover the original psychological thriller…

Winner of the 1960 Edgar Award for best mystery novel

‘A lost masterpiece.’ PETER SWANSON

‘A flawless masterclass in tension from the talented Ms Fremlin.’ SARAH HILARY

Louise would give anything – anything – for a good night’s sleep. Forget the girls running errant in the garden and bothering the neighbours. Forget her husband who seems oblivious to it all. If the baby would just stop crying, everything would be fine.

Or would it? What if Louise’s growing fears about the family’s new lodger, who seems to share all of her husband’s interests, are real? What could she do, and would anyone even believe her? Maybe, if she could get just get some rest, she’d be able to think straight…

In a new edition of this lost classic, The Hours Before Dawn proves – scarily – as relevant to readers today as it was when Celia Fremlin first wrote it in the 1950s.

Critic Reviews

Excellent … This sharp, tense, clever novel, still readable and relevant all these years later, is a testament to changing social attitudes.

Literary Review
Critic Reviews

Celia Fremlin, who died aged 94 in 2009, can be labelled the grandmother of psycho-domestic noir, usually filled with women undergoing danger. Fremlin wrote rather better that most of her of literary grandchildren, as the reprint of her 1958 debut novel demonstrates. Louise is the exhausted mother of a crying baby. To make ends meet, she and her husband take in a lodger, a middle-aged woman. Slowly, a sinister atmosphere builds up. There’s something wrong, Louise suspects — or is her tiredness driving her mad?

Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

Celia Fremlin is an astonishing writer, who explores that nightmare country where brain, mind and self battle to establish the truth. She illuminates her dark world with acute perception and great wit.

Natasha Cooper
Critic Reviews

Tightly plotted and admirably concise... Fremlin expertly ratchets up the tension, notch by notch.

Laura Wilson
Critic Reviews

Highly intelligent entertainment, beautifully written with wit and humour.

Frances Fyfield
Critic Reviews

It grips like grim death.


Celia Fremlin (1914-2009) was born in Kent and educated at Berkhamsted School for Girls and Somerville College, Oxford, where she read classics and philosophy. During the Second World War she worked for the Mass Observation project, an experience that resulted in her first published book, War Factory (1943, available in Faber Finds), which recorded the experiences and attitudes of women…

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