Publisher NAL/Putnam, February 2012
A young Italian woman risks her life to defy the injustice surrounding her in this touching novel of forbidden love in war-torn Italy.
It is autumn of 1943 when German forces invade the peaceful vineyards and olive groves of Giovanna Bellini’s village in Tuscany. At first, the seventeen-year-old finds herself fascinated by the dashing Nazi officers. She has yet to come face-to-face with the harsh realities of war.
Her life changes when her brother joins the partisans and recruits her to smuggle food. What began as a lark takes a drastic turn when she’s asked to hide a wounded freedom fighter, for Mario Rava is not just a partisan- he is also a Jew.
As Giovanna helps Mario heal, their bond deepens. But the world around them is in upheaval, and terrible truths are slowly being revealed-truths that will endanger countless lives, as well as the love that has grown between them.
Moving and powerful, interesting and compelling, Margaret Wurtele’s debut novel is thoroughly enjoyable. I loved the historical detail and the complexities portrayed in an Italy torn apart by World War II. The quiet elegance of the writing definitely brought to mind The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and I would likewise recommend this book to any book club.
— Robert Alexander, author of The New York Times bestseller, The Kitchen Boy
“Lush and suspenseful…an enthralling story of love, family, and courage.”
— Lynn Shreene author of The Last Time I Saw Paris
“Wurtele skillfully evokes the beauty of the Italian countryside, the brutality of the war, and the power of love to outlast the battles.”
— Kelly O’Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
“An extravagant and compelling tale of a young woman caught up in wartime Italy.”
— Paullina Simons, author of The Bronze Horseman
“The flavor of the Italian countryside in luminously captured: the strain of conflicting political loyalties within a family is wrenchingly depicted.”
— Faith Sullivan, author of The Cape Ann
“Margaret Wurtele’s novel, The Golden Hour, will grab you on page one and not let you go until the very end. It is a love story with an imbedded history lesson that few of us know much about. There is a great loss of innocence in this coming of age story, both for the heroine and for the bucolic landscape of Tuscany.”
— Dan O’Brien, author of Stolen Horses
“Margaret Wurtele tells the beautiful story of a young Italian woman who comes to maturity in the midst of persecution, war, and personal loss. As she views the world around her and comes to understand the cruelty, corruption, hypocrisy, and timidity of those she had hitherto admired, our hearts go out to her. We cheer as she forms her own values of decency, courage, tolerance, and commitment to others. Hers is a journey to be remembered and emulated.”
— Susan Zuccotti, author of Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy