Rutledge, Renee Macalino. “The Hour of Daydreams”, Forest Avenue Press, 2017.
A Folk Tale Reimagined
Renee Macalino Rutledge’s “The Hour of Daydreams” is a modern fairytale based on a Filipino folk tale and it lush both in plot and in prose.
Manolo Lualhati, a respected doctor in the Philippine countryside, Manolo Lualhati has come to believe that his wife, Tala, is hiding a secret from him. Tala and Manolo’s story takes to where they met the first time and we go into their marriage with them and see its complexities. The story is related from a variety of perspectives including those of Tala’s siblings, her new in-laws, and the couple’s housekeeper that explore the secrets that exist between lovers, friends, and family members. In any relationship, distances exist between those involved and in the distance between Manolo and Tala is this story. Bringing mythology, Filipino culture and everyday lives and events, writer Rutledge explores marriage, culture and gender roles. Before they got married, Manolo spied Tala wearing wings and flying to the stars with her sisters each evening. He begins questioning her and finds gaps in her stories, causing him to become suspicious about the woman he loves and married.
To tell this story, many characters from the past, present and future come together to give us an intergenerational look at myth and realism coming together. We embark on a journey that is lyrical and is filled with surprises thus making this a difficult book to review without giving something away and ruining the read for others. The boundaries between fairytale, imagination and reality come together and are blurred. All of our lives have been enhanced by fables that we heard growing up and I soon found myself returning to my youth as I read. Life is really all about our connecting with others while slowing those with whom we are allowed to have some space.
I realized that this is a story that can be read from two different angles— as a beautiful and well-told story or as a look at the value of storytelling. We are each free to decide which of these suits us or we can do as I did— read it once for the story and then read it again for the challenges. In fact, as I write this, I am thinking that I want to read it again… and again.