The Golden Hour – by Beatriz Williams – independent book review – Historical Fiction

I am a fan of this author; but not so much of this book. It’s an imaginative and fanciful plot, set loosely around the unsolved murder of Harry Oakes that took place during World War II in the Bahamas. If you need a memory jog, that was when the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were living in the Bahamas (The Duke – former King Edward VIII of England – was Governor of the Bahamas). Awarded three stars on Goodreads.

This is another one of those books that deploys a plot device that seems to be SO WIDELY used now, by SO MANY authors, that completely annoys me. Basically, the book is chunked into sections that represent different time periods, in different locations, and the complete story doesn’t come together until the very end. In the interim, the reader must keep track of plot lines and characters from 1900, 1941, 1943, 1905, 1942, 1916, 1944, and finally, 1951 — in the Bahamas, Florida, London, Germany, Switzerland, and Scotland. I found myself continually looking back to try to figure out whether the chapter I was about to read came before or after a previous chapter about these same characters. AARRRGGHH! To me it’s jarring to do so much skipping around and did NOT seem essential to building suspense in the overall plot.

While the unsolved murder is real, the central protagonist is fictional. Lulu, recently widowed (though not because of the war), is trying to make a living writing a gossip column about the Windsors and their life in the Bahamas. While mixing in with the wealthy set that surrounds the Windsors, Lulu meets a man whose work is war-related but mysterious and, not surprisingly, love blossoms. She also meets people who will ultimately be connected to the murder but that is NOT a big part of the central plot. It’s much more Lulu’s story. Plus, we explore the back story of this mystery man’s family, particularly the tragic love story of his parents. 

There are spies, Nazis, illegitimate siblings, mental illness, and dysfunctional family relationships. It’s a reasonably interesting story. Just much more difficult to follow than is necessary. 

Beatriz Williams

More about the author.

You may be interested in my reviews of other Beatriz Williams novels, beginning with my favorite:

The Secret Life of Violet Grant

Along the Infinite Sea

Tiny Little Thing

A Hundred Summers

A Certain Age

The Wicked City

The Summer Wives

The House on Cocoa Beach

Our Woman in Moscow

Her Last Flight

All The Ways We Said Goodbye