The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams is an epic style story about two women fighting for what they love. The following book club discussion questions for The Golden Hour will have spoilers so be sure to check out my review first.
The Bahamas, 1941. Newly-widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in the Bahamas to investigate the Governor and his wife for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees five years earlier. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires?
Or so Lulu imagines. But as she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’s social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the islands’ political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glister of Wallis and Edward’s marriage lies an ugly—and even treasonous—reality. In fact, Windsor-era Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindles, and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe: a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the willful and wounded Lulu falls in love.
Then Nassau’s wealthiest man is murdered in one of the most notorious cases of the century, and the resulting coverup reeks of royal privilege. Benedict Thorpe disappears without a trace, and Lulu embarks on a journey to London and beyond to unpick Thorpe’s complicated family history: a fateful love affair, a wartime tragedy, and a mother from whom all joy is stolen.
The stories of two unforgettable women thread together in this extraordinary epic of espionage, sacrifice, human love, and human courage, set against a shocking true crime . . . and the rise and fall of a legendary royal couple.
Book Club Discussion Questions for The Golden Hour
- There’s three different storylines: Lulu’s arrival and romance with Benedict; her eventual search for him; and Benedict’s mother, Elfriede, 40 years in the past. What did you think about the inclusion of these three storylines? Were you engaged with one more than the other? Did you ever get confused by the storylines?
- What were your first impressions of Lulu when she arrives to Nassau? Did that change as the story went on? Why was it important for Lulu to take on this assignment?
- Did you know much about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor prior to reading the novel? What did you think about the couple in this storyline?
- Elfriede suffers from undiagnosed postpartum depression. Let’s talk about how this impacted her life and mental state.
- Lulu develops a relationship with the Duchess and turns a blind eye to their corruption so she can continue to write stories about the couple. What did you think about this dynamic? When did Lulu start to “turn” on the couple?
- There are two big romances in this story. One with Elfriede and Wilfred and the other with Lulu and Benedict. Let’s discuss these romances!
- How devastating was the final interaction between Elfriede and Wilfred before he goes back to war?
- What did you think about all the main different settings: Nassau, Switzerland and London?
- While a majority is set during WWII, this is a different type of war-era novel, for the most part. Let’s talk about how this one stands apart but, yet, still shows the impact of war on people.
- Once Benedict goes missing, Lulu seeks out his sister Margaret in London to help find him. What do you think happened with Benedict—was the author implying that the royals were behind his capture? Let’s discuss this.
- Lulu has a dark past; she killed her husband. During the murder trial of Harry Oakes, she relives it. Let’s discuss her past.
- So Harry Oakes was a real person—let’s discuss this murder mystery. Do you think the royals were involved somehow?
- During the search for Benedict, we find out that Elfriede is actually still alive and so is Benedict. Were you surprised by this?
- What did you think about the ending?
What to Read Next
If you’re looking for more historical fiction, here are some more recommendations—along with book club discussion questions!
The Huntress by Kate Quinn is an exciting novel full of depth and intrigue.
Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.
Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.
Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family . . . secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.
In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth.
The Summer Country by Lauren Willig is a beautifully written historical fiction novel set in colonial Barbados.
Barbados, 1854: Emily Dawson has always been the poor cousin in a prosperous English merchant clan– merely a vicar’s daughter, and a reform-minded vicar’s daughter, at that. Everyone knows that the family’s lucrative shipping business will go to her cousin, Adam, one day. But when her grandfather dies, Emily receives an unexpected inheritance: Peverills, a sugar plantation in Barbados—a plantation her grandfather never told anyone he owned.
When Emily accompanies her cousin and his new wife to Barbados, she finds Peverills a burnt-out shell, reduced to ruins in 1816, when a rising of enslaved people sent the island up in flames. Rumors swirl around the derelict plantation; people whisper of ghosts.
Why would her practical-minded grandfather leave her a property in ruins? Why are the neighboring plantation owners, the Davenants, so eager to acquire Peverills? The answer lies in the past— a tangled history of lies, greed, clandestine love, heartbreaking betrayal, and a bold bid for freedom.