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. . . "
An avid Greenwood fan
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.
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