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The Golden Hour by T. Greenwood

The Golden Hour (edition 2017)

by T. Greenwood (Author)

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Title:The Golden Hour
Authors:T. Greenwood (Author)
Info:Kensington (2017), 384 pages
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The Golden Hour by T. Greenwood



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The Golden Hour is a new novel by T. Greenwood. Wyn Davies is a struggling artist is in her early thirties and lives in Queens, New York. Wyn lives in one half of a duplex while her husband, Gus lives on the other side. The pair split recently over a silly disagreement. Their daughter, Avery lives with Wyn during the week and Gus on the weekends. Wyn is an artist who has been busy making commissioned birch tree paintings that go with her client’s rooms. Gus feels that Wyn has sold out (at least she is earning money). Wyn finds out that Robby Rousseau might get a new trial. The Innocence Project has gotten involved in Robby’s case and they are testing the DNA from the case. The DNA was never tested because they had a confession. Wyn has never told anyone the truth about what happened that day twenty years ago in Haven, New Hampshire. When she receives a threatening phone call, it spurs Wyn to flee. She takes her friend, Pilar up on her offer to spend the winter in her home on Bluffs Island in Maine. Avery and Wyn head up to Bluffs Island. It can only be reached by ferry and there is no Wi-Fi service. It sounds perfect to Wyn. In the basement, Wyn discovers a box labeled “Epitaphs and Prophecies”. The box is full of undeveloped film rolls. The rolls are labeled with dates starting with 07/12/76. Wyn is intrigued and sends off two rolls to get developed (a friend develops the rest later). The film belonged to the former owner who disappeared thirty-five years ago. The pictures are unusual and Wyn gets a glimpse of her life. Wyn wants to find out more about this woman and starts seeking answers. Will the answers Wyn seeks help her with her own life? What happened to Wyn twenty years ago?

The Golden Hour is an odd novel. It sounded like a good mystery/suspense novel, but the execution was severely lacking. Wyn is a hard character to like. I know she suffered a horrible trauma, and I believe she could benefit from therapy. Her character reminds me of a person who might have a mental health problem. Wyn smokes pot (more than once when children are nearby), drinks, has trouble communicating (especially with her husband), pushes everyone away, prefers to flee than deal with life, jealous of her best friend’s success and lacks some common sense. Wyn goes to a house that has been deserted for thirty-five years with her four-year-old daughter (would you take a child to this house). I would make sure to arrive in daylight so I can what needs to be done. I am sure that the house would be dilapidated and filthy. Wyn has no idea how to turn light a pilot light for the heat and imagines there is a master switch (not on a system that old). She does not bring in the clothes from the car before falling asleep (guess what they need in the middle of the night). Wyn also fails to bring needed cleaning supplies (despite being told about the lack of shops and supplies in the “town”). Wyn seems more concerned about her needs than those of her daughter. In a way, I wish the author had not included a child in the story. I found some inconsistencies regarding the legal case. A thirteen-year-old boy confessed to the crime and then goes to trial. He gets a lengthy sentence and is still in jail twenty years later. Normally, if the perpetrator confesses, there is no trial. It would go to sentencing. Also, why would a juvenile still be in jail after the age of 18 (or at the latest 21). I am curious how he was convicted if Wyn did not testify and the DNA evidence was never tested. The incident that happened to Wyn is slowly revealed over the course of the novel. Most readers will be able to figure it out long before all the information is revealed. I give The Golden Hour 2 out of 5 stars (I did not enjoy it). I found the pace to be slow (good if you wish to go to sleep) and the pictures described are unusual (downright strange and inappropriate). I thought the novel to be dark and the ending disappointing. What happened regarding the prior owner is very upsetting and disturbing. I was just not drawn into this book. I kept hoping it would get better, but it did not. The Golden Hour was not the right novel for me. ( )
  Kris_Anderson | Mar 8, 2017 |
Master storyteller T. Greenwood returns following (2016) Where I Lost Her — my Top 50 Books of 2016 with her latest masterpiece, THE GOLDEN HOUR, another gripping spellbinding suspense page-turner and complex tale of family secrets.

With finesse, a skillful blending of symbolism, metaphors, and artistry; equally, character and plot-driven, a mix of literary, historical and women’s fiction; mystery, suspense, and psychological thriller, rolled into one.

THE GOLDEN HOUR is a compelling saga with dual storylines. Greenwood ensnares you from the first page to the finale. She weaves deftly between past and present with highly charged topics. A story of friendship, lies, and dark secrets. As usual, with Greenwood’s own signature lyrical style, she uses vivid mysterious settings, strong elements of nature, and the power of art.

Wyn is a wife and mother and yet she struggles with a tragic event when she was thirteen years old. The day in the woods in New Hampshire. Her life changed. No one knows the truth about what happened. She has kept silent. Someone’s secret and her own. Now she paints birches. (“woods” and forest, also another reference throughout the book). Living in Queens in a duplex, Wyn, is a mother to four-year-old daughter, Avery. Next door on the other side of the duplex— is her husband (ex), Gus.

She is an artist. However, she is not painting what she loves. She has turned to painting "quirky birches"(trees) to match her clients home décor. Boring, yet she was grateful for the work and the commission jobs in order to take care of the bills.

Gus is a good father, (they still love one another), and in order to share custody and keep the bills down, they are living next door to one another. He is a free-spirt and owns a sign shop. An artist as well. Wyn knows this living arrangement cannot last forever, being this close to one another. He had inherited it from his grandmother and when the tenant moved out on the other side, Wyn moved on the other side of the wall.

She realizes something must change. Even though they were not legally divorced, or even separated for that matter. He wanted Wyn to focus on real painting and not the stupid birches. She was thirty-three years old and would not go back to working at a bar. This would have to do for now. They had split up over the stupid tree paintings. (among other things). This was the last straw. She is feeling particularly uneasy. She has just received the news: Robert J. Rousseau. He was charged with rape years ago. A local activist solicits help from New Hampshire Innocence Project (a former social worker), who insists he was falsely accused —in the 1996 crime.

Now twenty years later, she must re-live the nightmare. They want to test for DNA. Back then, he confessed. He was never supposed to get out. He was supposed to rot in prison. That is what the New Hampshire family lawyer had promised. Her entire world was shattered. Back then and now once again. Had she sold her soul back then, to the devil? She was a young scared girl. Now, a scared woman.

Her mom, dad, brother, friends and Gus are worried about her. The media is hovering. She wants to escape. She cannot allow this to happen. Then she begins receiving sick phone calls and emails, threatening her and her family. The caller is a man and says he knows she has a little girl. She had to get away. Gus does not know the real truth.

In the meantime, while she is in denial, her friend Pilar, had left her a message about joining her in Maine. She decides this may be a way to hide out. She and Pilar have been friends for years and in college, as well as Gus. They all attended art school together at Rhode Island School of Design fifteen years earlier. While Wyn had resigned herself to painting those happy birches and Gus used his skills to make metal signs, Pilar’s career had moved at a steady pace and then the following year a collector fell in love with her work, and suddenly she was an artist with a capital A. The NYT had featured a showing at a gallery and all changed for her. Has Pilar changed?

Pilar has recently purchased a crumbling clapboard cottage which sits atop a rocky cliff on Bluffs Island, a remote islet far off the coast of Maine. She had bought it on a whim one summer after she sold some paintings for a high five figures. Wyn was no longer a free-spirit as they had been back in college. She was afraid. She had been running away for twenty years. She was doing it once again. It had been twenty years since she cast the first lie. But what was the truth?

“This the thing about a lie: over time, it not only obscures the truth but consumes it . . . A lie, in collusion with time, can overpower the truth. A good lie has the power to subsume reality. A good lie can become the truth . . . However, lies are also precarious things. Each twist and, each flutter of a wing, each protest threatening to tear the intricate construction apart.”

She finally persuades Gus into allowing her to take Avery to Maine after three weeks. She, of course, does not tell him nor anyone the reason for leaving, nor about the phone calls. However, once she arrives, she discovers the home is in great need of work, very remote, and Pilar does not visit often, due to the weather, traveling, and her work.

However, instead of painting as she had planned, she has time on her hands and procrastinates. Time for worry and stress about the event years ago which changed her life. What will happen when the truth comes out?

Instead of thinking about the petition for retrial and the thought of testifying—and the possibility of this monster going free and what she may have to face— she escapes into another world, when she discovers film in a box, in the old crumbled house’s basement. She becomes protective of this person's work. It is intimate. Delicate. Sensitive. Roll after roll of 35mm film. Undeveloped. Who takes 50 rolls of film and doesn’t get them developed? She cannot figure out this mystery. She is intrigued. This is a distraction for her.

First, let me say, the house is very mysterious, and the guy next door. (what a brilliant addition to the story and tie-in). Up to this point, the mystery is what really happened twenty years earlier. Readers know something is not right and Wyn is hiding something. Some secret. Some lie. She is worried and afraid for her family.

Rather than dwelling on this, Wyn becomes obsessed with the film and the lives in the photos. She has a few rolls developed and is further intrigued. A mysterious woman. Did this woman live in this house? She was a photographer. It appears there was possibly a lover and a baby. This is like wow, another saga! This storyline takes front and center. What happened to the woman?

Gus comes to visit to take Avery for a few weeks over the holiday and Wyn gives him the film for their friend back home to develop in his dark room. When she receives the negatives, she is further pulled into the mystery and intrigue of what happened to Sybil, the woman. (so was I) …

She and Pilar are invited to the large mansion (Gatsby) home (loving this) for a New Year’s Eve party and begins to try and piece together the mystery of the woman in the photo. Who is this wealthy man? Their second home. The wife seems very odd. However, Pilar does not visit often and now she is alone at this house, while Avery is with Gus. However, what she learns about the woman in the photo and her discovery may just give her the strength to return to her hometown in New Hampshire and face her fears. Change her perspective. Will she finally have the courage, to tell the truth, and not be afraid? To heal from the pain.

The secrets of Wyn, Rick, Robby, Sybil, and Seamus. The cost of silence. Waiting for the lies to come unraveled. Guilt. A dangerous path. Humanity’s darker side.

“The funny thing about the truth is, it always seems to have a way to getting free. For two decades, I could practically hear the beatings of wings against those invisible threads, gossamer snapping, coming undone.”

A lot to love here! From the dark thickness of trees, path through the woods, (heart-pounding) forest, running for safety, snow, fire, water, the old Cliffside Gatsby-like mansion, mermaid tears, the rocky cliff, the bluffs, the crashing waves, the danger lurking, evil, the cottage, a death, a rape, the emotion, a mysterious man next door, and two very dark secrets. The author executes it brilliantly. Would make a great movie or series!

Greenwood is a pro at blending all these elements and palettes of color . . . (you can tell she is a photographer) . . . building suspense and keeping you on the edge-of-your-seat. All the while you are so caught up in the second mystery at the Bluffs from long ago, you almost forget about the mystery behind what happened to Wyn when she was thirteen (this comes towards the ending).

All consuming, compelling, and atmospheric. With the dual timelines-Greenwood slowly reveals in detail the events leading up to the rape, the raw emotions and fear of a young girl, her struggles, her near death experience, and the secret and guilt she has had to live with. In addition, we learn of the Bluffs Island secret. The Epitaphs and Prophecies box. What really happened to the woman who lived in the house. A murder, scandal, a suicide? The house had been sitting for thirty-five years. Each photo captures the essence. Present. Past. End. Beginning.

Ongoing themes of before and after. At the heart, a deeply human story; a timely tragic issue of consent, rape, bullying, the scars, both literal and emotional . . . the repercussions. From memorable characters—surrounded by a web of deceit, fractured families, destructive secrets, lies . . . bringing characters to life—keeping you captivated from the first page to the last. 5 Stars ++

Am strongly reminded of Robert Frost's early poem, "Birches".

"The force behind it comes from contrary pulls—truth and imagination, earth and heaven, concrete and spirit, control and abandon, flight and return. The whole upward thrust of the poem is toward imagination, escape, and transcendence—and away from heavy Truth with a capital T. The downward pull is back to earth. . . "

Wyn is using the Maine house, her birches, her secret, and the mystery she discovers as an escape. However, like the poem, she does not wish to be left out on a limb. For the poet, he looks at bent trees and imagines another truth.

An avid Greenwood fan for years (one of my favorite authors), have read ALL her books and anxiously await the next. Each one is a rare treat. When I begin one of her books, I know it is a special gift and know to "mark out" uninterrupted time before beginning. I am like a "giddy kid" and "over the moon" when being granted an early reading copy. (thank you Kensington)

An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions (a great reading guide included). Highly recommend! For fans of Mary Kubica, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, Karen White, Jodi Picoult, Heather Gudenkauf, Diane Chamberlain, and Amy Hatvany.

A VERY special thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for an early reading copy. (Love the cover.)

JDCMustReadBooks ( )
  JudithDCollins | Feb 20, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this book. The ending left me wanting more and I couldn't believe the story was really over. I would rate the book 3.5, almost 4. I was very excited to get the chance to read The Golden Hour because I LOVED The Forever Bridge.

Wyn Davies is a mother of a four year old and has recently separated from her husband over tree paintings. Wyn had a a very painful and traumatic childhood. At thirteen she was raped and almost killed by a classmate. She recently got news that there may be a new trial based on DNA evidence. Wyn still has secrets over what happened really happened in the woods and has promised never to talk about it.

Wyn decides to take up her best friends offer and stay at the crumbling clapboard house on an island in Maine.While there, Wyn hopes to finish her tree painting which is suppose to match her wealthy client's throw pillows. Instead Wyn discovers a box of undeveloped film. She takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of the woman in the film.

I definitely recommend the book. Like Wyn, I also wanted to find out about the woman who once lived in the house. I also wanted Wyn to speak out about what happened to her.

Thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books and the author, T. Greenwood, for a free electronic ARC of this novel. ( )
  JenniferLynn | Feb 17, 2017 |
First of all, this is NOT a suspense novel. I say this because I thought it would be a psychological suspense thriller. There IS suspense, but this is a book about the life and emotional turmoil of one woman facing the lies she told as a child and trying to find the courage to do what she knows she must. Fine with me: I like both kinds of stories, just saying because I requested it from Netgalley thinking it was more thriller than character study.

As a young teenager, Wyn Davies was raped and stabbed in the woods near her home. Her attacker, another 13-year old, was sent to prison. Now, 20 years later, the Innocence Project is trying to get him a new trial, and Wyn knows she's going to have to face up to the fact that the whole story has never been told. The author slowly reveals the complete story, although it's not too hard to figure out long before that. Running from the threats she regularly receives advising her to "keep her part of the bargain" and not tell the truth, Wyn retreats to an isolated island off Maine where she uncovers another mystery: 30-year old rolls of film which tell the story of the house's previous owner, long-ago disappeared.

Although Wyn feels bound by a deal she made at the time of the rape, it's unclear why as an adult she wouldn't understand why that deal was not binding and that the police could protect her if she came forward. She's never told anyone: her husband, best friend, or parents. I did enjoy the description of life on an out-of-the-way island as Wyn renovates a long-deserted house sitting on a cliff over the Atlantic. And her child, Avery, is delightful. But the book doesn't work in its entirety, partially because Wyn's adult reactions to the rape seem too much like a plot device to provide a reason for everything else she does. The book also ends rather abruptly, just when the reader is expecting to enjoy a satisfying description of how things turn out rather than just assumptions. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Jan 27, 2017 |
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“Richly told and hauntingly beautiful, The Golden Hour was impossible to put down.” --Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author

On a spring afternoon long ago, thirteen-year-old Wyn Davies took a shortcut through the woods in her New Hampshire hometown and became a cautionary tale. Now, twenty years later, she lives in New York, on the opposite side of a duplex from her ex, with their four-year-old daughter shuttling between them. Wyn makes her living painting commissioned canvases of birch trees to match her clients’ furnishings. But the nagging sense that she has sold her artistic soul is soon eclipsed by a greater fear. Robby Rousseau, who has spent the past two decades in prison for a terrible crime against her, may be released based on new DNA evidence—unless Wyn breaks her silence about that afternoon.
To clear her head, refocus her painting, and escape an even more present threat, Wyn agrees to be temporary caretaker for a friend’s new property on a remote Maine island. The house has been empty for years, and in the basement Wyn discovers a box of film canisters labeled “Epitaphs and Prophecies.” Like time capsules, the photographs help her piece together the life of the house’s former owner, an artistic young mother, much like Wyn. But there is a mystery behind the images too, and unraveling it will force Wyn to finally confront what happened in those woods—and perhaps escape them at last. 
A compelling and evocative novel with an unsettling question at its heart, T. Greenwood’s The Golden Hour explores the power of art to connect, to heal, and to reveal our most painful and necessary truths.

“Spellbinding. A touching story of one woman’s loss and heartache, coupled with the electrifying search for a young girl. I loved everything about Where I Lost Her." --Mary Kubica, bestselling author of The Good Girl

“Searing, heartbreaking, and suspenseful.” --Publishers Weekly


“A compelling read.” --Tawni O’Dell, New York Times bestselling author of Back Roads

“T. Greenwood delves into the pain of grief, and brings the reader to a place of hope and, yes, even joy.” --Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle and An Italian Wife


“A complex and compelling portrait of the painful intricacies of love and loyalty. Book clubs will find much to discuss in T. Greenwood’s insightful story of two women caught between their hearts and their families.” --Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters

“By turns beautiful and tragic, haunting and healing, I was captivated from the very first line.” --Jillian Cantor, author of Margot


“A poetic, compelling story that glows in its subtle, yet searing examination of how we attempt to fill the potentially devastating fissures in our lives.” --Amy Hatvany, author of Heart Like Mine

“Exceptionally well-observed. Readers who enjoy insightful and sensitive family drama will appreciate discovering Greenwood.” --Library Journal

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 19 Sep 2016 13:52:10 -0400)

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