The Golden Hour is a wonderful book about Italy during World War II. Giovanni is a young Italian girl who is trying to survive the German occupation. She lives with her parents, is the sister of a patriot fighter and is trying to figure out where she is in all the madness that surrounds her. Giovanni becomes involved with Klaus, a German officer who tries to compromise her. Giorgio, Giovanni's brother, deserts from the Italian army to become a freedom fighter. He and his compatriots later come to Giovanni to help them by providing food, clothing and medicine for them. Then Giovanni subsequently befriends a Jewish man, Mario, who is badly injured. Giovanni finds a place to hide him and nurses him back to health. Eventually, the two marry. This story begins at the deathbed of Giovanni's father and the story is told as a memory of Giovanni's past.
I was very impressed with the development of the main characters throughout the story. I was also very intrigued with the description of the life of civilians in a town occupied by enemy soldiers. Even though Italy was an Axis power in WWII, eventually they ally with the Americans, although Germans remain in the country. The secrets that need to be kept and the discretion of telling anyone these secrets provide a tension throughout the book. I was very much immersed in the flow of the story and was hard pressed to put the book down.
I would recommend this book.
In this stunning debut set in the summer of 1944 in Tuscany, Giovanna Bellini, the daughter of a wealthy aristocrat and vineyard owner, has just turned seventeen and is on the cusp of adulthood. War bears down on her peaceful little village after the Italians sign a separate peace with the Allies-transforming the Germans into an occupying army.
But when her brother joins the Resistance, he asks Giovanna to hide a badly wounded fighter who is Jewish. As she nurses him back to health, she falls helplessly in love with the brave and humble Marco, who comes from as ancient and noble an Italian family as she does. They pledge their love, and then must fight a real battle against the Nazis who become more desperate and cruel as the Allies close in on them...