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Review: The Golden Hour by Margaret Wurtele

[ 4 ] February 22, 2012 |

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.

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Category: Genre Fiction, Historical, Literature & Fiction, Romance

Comments (4)

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  1. 3
    Carol Wong says:

    I haven’t read anything about Italy in WWII so that makes me very interested in this book just like the reviewer. This one is already on my wishlist. I really like that there was romantic conlfict and that she decided the way that she did. Now I would love to read this book. Will check out Techeditor’s recommendation.

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

  2. 2
    techeditor says:

    Sounds like a soap opera to me.

    Joanne, you say you haven’t read other books that show the Italian perspective of World War II. Try THREAD OF GRACE by Mary Doria Russell. It’s an excellent book that takes place in Italy near the end of World War II. This is also historical fiction but contains a lot of fact. And I’ll bet you it’s even better than THE GOLDEN HOUR.

    Mary Doria Russell is a great author. Every one of her books is quite different from the others with the exception of SPARROW and CHILDREN OF GOD (which is not a religious book). CHILDREN OF GOD is a continuation of SPARROW.

    Those two books are science fiction, which I have never liked until I read these at the urging of a friend. Her other books are historical fiction.

    Look at me: I’m talking about another author’s books in a comment that’s supposed to be about THE GOLDEN HOUR. How rude! :-) I’d review THREAD OF GRACE if Vera had ever featured it on luxuryreading.com.

  3. 1
    Colleen Turner says:

    This sounds like a great book. There have been quite a few books coming out lately that show WWII from new perspectives and I just love that. It really helps a reader get a better grasp of the war and the various people, organizations and sides involved as a whole. Thanks for the review, I have this one on my wishlist!

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