The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

About 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.

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII

My thoughts: I’ve been hanging on to a Book of the Month credit for a while now and when I saw The Golden Hour as a June selection I immediately knew that credit was going to be used. The description immediately piqued my interest and I’ve been wanting to read a Williams novel for what seems like forever. Then came the horrible act of having to wait for the book to show up so I could actually read it. Eventually it arrived and I dived right into it.

I immediately liked the author’s writing style. She made me feel as if I had been transported to the settings of the story whether it be the tropical Nassau or the more damp and dreary Switzerland. The pictures she painted with words made the story come alive in the pages of the story. I also liked the characters and was intrigued by them. They were dimensional and I liked the fact that some of them were real-life people and not just fictional characters.

However, with all that being said, as I kept reading the book I found that the story moved slowly and at times I felt it was bogged down with all the descriptions of the setting. Then there’s the fact that the story is a dual timeline. Now, I like dual timeline stories but what I found frustrating with this one was some of the characters had very similar names and I found myself confused at times trying to keep the Thorpes straight in my mind. At times it also seemed like the two storylines were too much of the same thing.

Also, a bit confusing to me was the use of the “f” word. Now I’m no prude and don’t really mind the word at all but it seemed out of place in this story. Why was it even in there? For shock value? I’m not sure but it wasn’t really needed at all and I feel like the story would have been just as good without it.

All in all, I enjoyed the story enough. It kept my interest well enough. Even though I wouldn’t rate this a four or five star read I liked it enough to give the author another try.

About the author: Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of The Summer Wives, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, A Hundred Summers, A Certain Age, and several other works of historical fiction. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz worked as a communications and corporate strategy consultant in New York and London before she turned her attention to writing novels that combine her passion for history with an obsessive devotion to voice and characterization. Beatriz’s books have won numerous awards, have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and appear regularly in bestseller lists around the world.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Beatriz now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

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