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Reviewed by Joanne Reynolds

Giovanna’s father is dying and she has been hastened to his bedside. As she rests in her childhood bedroom, she is taken back to her teenage years, some 50 years ago.

Giovanna and her family were Italian aristocrats. She, her father, her mother, and her brother, Giorgio, lived at Villa Farfalla, an estate where they made wine and olive oil.

The war was just stirring in Italy, and her brother decided to become a partisan, fighting against the Germans by helping the Allied forces undercover. Giovanna’s father, a strong believer in Fascism, was outraged at his son’s actions and forbade him from entering his house again.

Giovanna, having grown up Catholic, took to helping the nuns with schooling the children at the church. German soldiers took up residence on the main floor of her family home as well as in the church. Given their proximity, Giovanna started talking to one of the German soldiers and quickly fell in love, all the while knowing that he was married with a newborn son.

Eventually, Giovanna did realize that her relationship with the soldier, Klaus, was doomed and shifted her attention to helping the partisans and their friends defeat the German army. Although situations around her were often tragic, she only worked harder to prevent awful things from happening to innocent people, like the Jews who were actively persecuted by the Germans. It was her desire to help this group of people that led her to her true love, Mario.

The Golden Hour was very well written and wrapped me up in the history of the region. Giovanna had a heart of gold, but was only a young impressionable girl who was pretty sheltered and had a lot to learn. Meanwhile, many people tried to sway her in different directions. It was up to her to either listen or not, and I believe that she became stronger and more true to her heart during her tribulations.

The history of World War II has always captivated me and I have not had the opportunity to read about the Italian side. It seems that there was so much blindness on the parts of some people about what was really going on, but thankfully, I read The Golden Hour with the knowledge of the time period behind me.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Read more about Margaret Wurtele’s inspiration for the book

Joanne has always been an avid reader and loves the ability to lose herself in someone else’s life for the time that it takes to read about it. She has a huge admiration for authors and the worlds that they create for us. She enjoys reading to her granddaughters and hopes that they take up the love of reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NAL Trade. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.