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The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams
Historical fiction

The Golden Hour

Repeat author

Beatriz Williams is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Summer Wives.

Early Release

This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait to read it.

by Beatriz Williams

Excellent choice

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Quick take

Lifestyles of the rich and famous—during WWII.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance

    Romance

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Real-life-characters

    Real-life characters

Synopsis

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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Golden Hour.
The Golden Hour

Lulu

December 1943 (London)

In the foyer of the Basil Hotel in Cadogan Gardens, atop the tea-colored wallpaper, a sign advises guests that blackout hours will be observed strictly. Another sign reminds us that enemy ears are listening. The wallpaper’s crowded with tiny orange flowers that seem to have started out life as pink, and they put me in mind of a story I once read about a woman who stares at the wallpaper in her room until she goes batty. Although that wallpaper was yellow, as I recall, so I may have some time to go.

I consult my watch. Three twenty-two.

Outside the windows, the air’s darkening fast. Some combination of coal smoke and December fog and the early hour at which the sun goes down at this latitude, as if the wallpaper and the signboards and the piles of rubble across the street aren’t enough to make you melancholy. I check the watch again—three twenty-three, impossible—and my gaze happens to catch that of the desk clerk. He’s examining me over the top of a rickety pair of reading glasses, because he hasn’t liked the look of me from the beginning. Why should he? A woman shows up at your London hotel in the middle of December, the middle of wartime, tanned skin, American accent, unmistakable scent of the foreign about her. She pays for her room in advance and carries only a small suitcase. Now she’s awaiting some no-good rendezvous, right in the middle of your dank, shabby, respectable foyer, and you ought to telephone the authorities, just to be on the safe side. In fact, you probably have telephoned the authorities.

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Why I love it

It takes a truly gifted novelist to seamlessly weave together what appear to be separate storylines into one fantastic tale, and lucky for me, and you, and book-lovers everywhere, Beatriz Williams (author of previous BOTM selection, The Summer Wives) is that kind of writer. Her talent for creating dovetailed stories—stories that beckon and badger me to keep reading to see where and how and why the characters will collide—is unparalleled, which is why her newest, The Golden Hour, shimmers like the sun.

I adore a story that brims with deliciously delivered and sensory-rich settings like those in this book—the Bahamas, Germany, England, and Scotland. Plus, the little known details of Wallis Simpson and her abdicated king—whom fans of The Crown will remember—thoroughly intrigued me. Best of all is Williams’s cast of compelling, uniquely voiced characters: Lulu, Benedict, Elfriede, and Wilfred (just to name a few). They will satisfy, surprise, and hold you under their spells from first word to last. You will laugh, you will cry, you will not forget them.

This novel contains all the ingredients for a fascinating work of historical fiction, and it’s penned by a gifted wordsmith. The Golden Hour is a tale of wartime courage, espionage, dashed dreams, renewed hopes, and the tightest bonds of love. My kind of read!

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Member ratings (7,303)

  • Karen O.

    New York, NY

    Beatriz Williams really paints a picture of two very divergent locales and eras. I was struck by the minute details of the descriptions of Lulu’s extended stay in Nassau and Elfried’s life in Europe.

  • Taylor C.

    Elgin, OK

    It takes a little while to build the back story, but once you reach about a third of the way through, the book takes off in a colorful, romantic, inspiring direction. Would recommend for the romance!♥

  • Grace H.

    Hillsboro, OR

    I am visually impaired so a friend is reading this book to me a chapter or a two at a time. We’re both enjoying it so much. We laugh and discuss the historical incidents and check some words on Google

  • Mylie B.

    Winchester, IN

    I wasn’t sure about this book at first but I was wrong! There is amazing depth to the characters and the storylines are compelling. So many strong female characters, and real life murder mystery, too!

  • Elizabeth M.

    Ventura, CA

    An epic! Loved the double narrative, and the portrayal of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor was correctly scathing. I think this is a story I will think about often — oh and the romance! Fantastic!!!

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