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review 2019-06-16 00:23
The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams
The Golden Hour - Beatriz Williams

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Was yours ever hit?”

No. Not a scratch. I suppose even bombs have a sense of irony.”

Not really,” I say. “That's just human illusion. We imagine there's an order to things, because it's too awful to consider the randomness of fate.”


The Golden Hour is historical fiction that mainly follows two women decades apart while slowly but surely weaving their stories together. We first meet Elfriede in a Swiss clinic where she was sent after she can't feel anything for her newborn and talks about a darkness that dwells in her. Today we would call it postpartum depression but in the early 1900s, no one quite knows what to do with her. There she meets an Englishman recouping from pneumonia and they have a soulmates connection but with Elfriede still married, they can't really act on anything.

The other woman we follow is Lulu in 1941 just as she is arriving in the Bahamas to cover gossip about the scandalous Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Edward and Wallis Simpson. There she gets caught up in possible treasonous acts and meets Benedict Thorpe, a man she thinks is more than he is letting on.


It's so easy and so safe to fall in love when the universe is against you.


While Elfriede's story is relayed from the beginning, chronologically, we start more towards the end with Lulu's story and are constantly backtracking and shooting forward to gain information on how she ends up in London with Benedict's sister, which is where we first meet her and the mysterious government agent, Mr. B. The pov changes also include first person and third person different narratives; it works to keep the two women drivers of their own stories but I can see how this could affect the flow of the story for some.


While Lulu and Elfriede are fictional characters, they are surrounded by real events and real historical figures of their times. World War I plays a part in Elfriede's story, affecting her life's course and World War II obviously plays a big part in Lulu's story. For the most part though, the gravitas of the Wars are kept to the outside, Pearl Harbor is discussed but being in the Bahamas during the time and lack of Internet keeps the news to feeling surreal. The focus is more microcosm and how the Wars are personally affecting these two women and how it will connect them.


I thought it was intriguing how the author made the Windsors, somewhat, central and key, along with the real murder mystery of Henry Oakes; little moments in history that aren't completely solved are fun to read different takes on.


Life is made up of these little crossroads, after all,” he said. “A million daily forks in the road.”


The slow weaving of Elfriede and Lulu may feel meandering for a while, I thought the latter half started to drag a bit but it was still curiously interesting to see how the author ultimately ended up placing all the characters to culminate in the ending. The ending was rushed and key emotional moments were crammed, taking away from the reader from getting time to digest and deliver a bigger impact on key moments. However, if looking to disappear for a few hours, The Golden Hour will keep you intrigued about how all these characters touch and impact each other's lives and how it could feel so helpless and hopeful all at the same time during World War I and II.


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text 2019-06-13 18:06
The Golden Hour - Beatriz Williams

You know, it's a funny word, loyalty. Loyalty to what? And why? And especially how, that's the kicker. It seems to me that loyalty requires a suspension of logic, of truth even. Like faith, like superstition, a thing you cling to in defiance of what lies before you in plain sight. On the other hand---like faith or superstition, like love itself---where's the comfort in a world without it?

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text 2019-06-12 23:56
Reading Update: 20%
The Golden Hour - Beatriz Williams

World War II drama with spies, love, and royalty.


The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams pre-order link (July 9th)


Vegan Creamy Garlic Lemon-Pepper Pasta recipe

(Cauliflower helps make up the sauce, wild, y'all!)


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review 2018-10-26 17:58
The Summer Wives
The Summer Wives - Beatriz Williams

Miranda Schuyler is eighteen years old when she arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island in Long Island Sound. Her beautiful mother is about to marry Hugh Fisher whose summer house on the Island overlooks the famous lighthouse. Miranda's new stepsister, Isobel, is eager to draw her into the customs of their society. The Fisher's fall into the wealthy summer families while the other clan on the Island are the working class Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and from those who summer on the Island. Fast forward nearly two decades later to the first time Miranda has returned to the Island since a murder caused her to flee. She wants to clear the name of the man she met and fell in love with as a teenager even if it means uncovering all the messy secrets that bind the families of Winthrop Island together.

I feel like my reviews of Beatriz Williams books are all the same. She's my favourite author and can do no wrong. Everything is perfect in this book - the writing, the characters, the setting. This book has lots of secrets, lies and cocktails. It has murder. Families are torn apart but also families do not rat on fellow Islanders. There are three different timelines - 1930 tells the story of Bianca Medeiro, 1951 tells the story of eighteen year old Miranda Schuyler and 1969 brings Miranda back to the Island. Bianca's chapters were short but vital. Nothing that happened was overly shocking but it was a compelling read. I just love Williams writing, it's so dreamy and vivid and magical *sigh*

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review 2018-09-08 00:00
Tiny Little Thing
Tiny Little Thing - Beatriz Williams (This is a three-and-a-half star book for me, but I bumped it up to four because I know how hard books are to write!)

Author Williams does an excellent job of place and time as she depicts a summer on the East Coast in the 1960s. Tiny Little Thing is a story of power and family, broken trust and secrets. The Hardcastle family is Kennedy-esque, mounting a candidate that they hope ends up in the White House. The Schuylers are a female battalion looking to create a doyenne. The families unite when Tiny and Frank marry.

What I like: Author Williams pegs the conversations between Tiny and Penny, which intimately and humorously represent a healthy relationship between adult sisters. The distant Schuyler matriarch eventually thwarts the Hardcastle patriarch in the best tradition of the steel magnolia stereotype, and her brief appearance is memorable. Frank Hardcastle’s patronizing attitude toward Tiny is difficult to read about early in the book, but Williams makes him sympathetically pitiable when he finally gets what he wants. Other characterizations are very strong.

What I did not like: A few details pushed this book just outside my comfortable PG-13 limit. That's not a deal-breaker if they advance the story, but these seemed gratuitous.

Williams introduced the Schuylers in The Secret Life of Violet Grant (Putnam, 2014). Both books contain vigorous dialogue, but the variety of well-drawn female characters in Tiny Little Thing is especially enjoyable.

Tiny Little Thing isn’t a literary feast, but rather a summertime snack. Put on a strand of proper pearls and shake your martini. You can almost smell the breezes coming in off the Atlantic with Tiny Little Thing in hand.

Recommended for a diversion—and that's not a bad thing.
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