Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Golden Hour - Book Review

Reading the synopsis of The Golden Hour by Margaret Wurtele, I was immediately intrigued. Giovanna is a young woman living in Tuscany during World War II. Her village is occupied by the Germans as the Italians have now aligned themselves with the Allies. As the Italians wait for the Allied troops to liberate them, some, including Giovanna's brother, join the Resistance. Her brother asks Giovanna to help hide his Jewish friend Marco. And, of course, Giovanna will fall madly in love with Marco.

I actually found that I had to drudge my way through this novel. My first problem was the main character. In the beginning of the novel, Giovanna is flirting with a love affair with one of the occupying Nazi soldiers. That entire experience paints her as flighty, fickle and reckless. Later, when entrusted with the duty of supplying the Resistance, she has so much trouble keeping her secret. At the same time, the author describes her as very pious, devoted to her religion and the cause of the Italians. Obviously, she is just a girl and will grow up during the novel. I realize this, but the progression doesn't seem realistic. Then, she meets Marco and she is willing to sacrifice her family, the lives of others, and her religion for his love. I would buy it if the author had more successfully portrayed their romance. As told, it came across as very shallow. Marco was a very two-dimensional character, in spite of the inclusion of his journal entries.

Overall, I was disappointed by this novel. It had a beautiful setting and a promising plot but the writing was wordy and awkward. It lacked the passion that would make me want to root for the love affair.

The details of the war between the Italians and the Germans and the Allies as well as the racial tension throughout the country were interesting (though I question some facts and even the inconsistencies of Giovanna's earlier naivete about what was happening to Jews and then her sudden defense of them and the Black Allied soldiers), but hardly made the book worth the time.

** I received a complimentary copy of The Golden Hour in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received. The Golden Hour will be released next week. **

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