Beatriz Williams writes the best kind of historical fiction, impeccably researched novels which transport you back through the years. I have read a few of her books (though not all, must remedy that!) and have loved each one I’ve read. The Golden Hour is no exception. You can read my review of A Certain Age and my review of The House on Cocoa Beach is within this holiday reading round-up here. I was delighted to win a copy of The Golden Hour in an Instagram giveaway run by American publishers William Morrow. I hadn’t realised that the book isn’t out in the UK just yet but you don’t have long to wait, as it will be published by Harper Collins soon.
“The golden hour when everything looks the most beautiful, just before the sunset. This luminous air turning everything to gold. And then it’s gone, just like that. The sun disappears. The night arrives.”
This is the story of two women at two different points of history connected by the Thorpe men. At the beginning of the 20th century, Elfriede is in a clinic in Switzerland following severe post-natal depression where she meets Thorpe, recovering from pneumonia. Elfriede’s depression and its effect on her family life is returned to throughout the novel. If you have read Williams’ novel Along the Infinite Sea, you may recognise a character from that novel, Johann Von Kleist, who is the son of Elfriede.
Beatriz Williams also creates a world of glamour and intrigue in the Bahamas at the time of the Second World War when the Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived there and the former king was Governor. I had no idea about that, so that was fascinating to learn more about it. Despite the war, the rich were still living comfortable lives whilst those around lived in poverty. In this strand of the story, the focus is on Lulu, a journalist who is investigating the famous couple for a New York society magazine.
I enjoyed the way that the author wove true historical events into her narrative. Both women were fascinating in their own ways. I did feel more drawn to Elfriede as her story at times was just so sad. I really felt for her. But that’s not to say I did not enjoy the strand of the story featuring Lulu. She was a terrific character, strong and determined and I was so interested to read about life in the Bahamas during the Second World War with all the political intrigue and tension in this beautiful part of the world.
This is book to lose yourself in, the kind where you are completely caught up with the characters and their lives. The Golden Hour is not a fast paced story with lots of dramatic action but it’s a story which gets under your skin and is very compelling. It is tragic in parts, very moving and, with two great love stories at its heart, very romantic.
The Golden Hour is will be available to buy or order from your usual book retailer soon. It is also available to pre-order from Hive where all purchases help support your local High Street – The Golden Hour
From the back of the book
The New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wives and A Certain Age creates a dazzling epic of World War II-era Nassau—a hotbed of spies, traitors, and the most infamous couple of the age, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The Bahamas, 1941. Newly-widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in Nassau to investigate the Governor and his wife for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees five years earlier. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires?
Or so Lulu imagines. But as she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’s social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the islands’ political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glister of Wallis and Edward’s marriage lies an ugly—and even treasonous—reality. In fact, Windsor-era Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindles, and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe: a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the willful and wounded Lulu falls in love.
Then Nassau’s wealthiest man is murdered in one of the most notorious cases of the century, and the resulting coverup reeks of royal privilege. Benedict Thorpe disappears without a trace, and Lulu embarks on a journey to London and beyond to unpick Thorpe’s complicated family history: a fateful love affair, a wartime tragedy, and a mother from whom all joy is stolen.
The stories of two unforgettable women thread together in this extraordinary epic of espionage, sacrifice, human love, and human courage, set against a shocking true crime . . . and the rise and fall of a legendary royal couple.
About the author
A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.