In this novel, The Golden Hour literally describes the hour before sunset. It is an ephemeral time. “The sun disappears. The night arrives.” This image is true to the novel where there are both bright and dark times for the characters.
In this novel, there is sunshine and shadow. There is love and connection along with the potential to lose those whom one most deeply cares for. As is true is many historical novels, the reader learns about these tropes through characters in two different time periods. Eventually their stories converge.
In the earlier time period, readers follow Elfriede whose story begins in Switzerland in 1900. Elfriede, who is breathtakingly beautiful, is married but not in a passionate relationship. Suffering what we would now call postpartum depression, she is sent to a clinic to recuperate. While there, Elfriede meets Wilfrid, the man who will be most critical to her being. Around Elfriede swarm other characters including her son, Johann, and the children of her husband’s mistress whom she loves as her own. There is much more to Elfriede’s story than I am including here so you will need to read the book to get the full scope what happens to her.
The second time line is the 1940s. We meet Lulu who has quite a backstory. She is in the Bahamas reporting on daily life whereshe joins the circle of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Life is a mix of decadence, amurder and Red Cross volunteer work. While in the Bahamas, Lulu again meets up with Benedict, whom she loves as Efriede loves Wilfred.
Of course the stories and lives of Lulu and Elfriede intersect. No spoliers, so no more except to say that there are several love stories, some of which are about parental/filial and not romance.
The story takes place in multiple countries and each place leaves the reader feeling like they are there. The denoument includes what may be a surprise for many readers.
I enjoyed The Golden Hour. The characters are vivid, the pages turn and I was sorry to come to the end. I give this novel 4.5 starts out of 5.
Have you read this one? What did you think?
“Original and fascinating. Lulu herself is an excellent creation, tough, smart, sexy, and ruthless… A fresh take on the WWII love story, with a narrator who practically demands Myrna Loy come back to life to play her in the movie.” (Kirkus (starred review))
“Bestselling author Beatriz Williams skillfully sets a story of love and sacrifice against the backdrop of war in her fascinating new novel… Readers will be spellbound by Williams’ elegant prose, fascinating characters and unforgettable settings while fully engrossed by the novel’s dual plots.” (Bookpage)
“The stories of two remarkable women a generation apart are cleverly entwined in Williams’s sweeping family saga… Williams illuminates the story with exotic locales and bygone ambiance, and seduces with the irresistible Windsors. Readers will appreciate the wartime espionage that keeps the suspense high.” (Publishers Weekly )