I’ll readily admit that the reason for choosing this novel was the stunning cover. Then, when I realized that it was largely set on an island in Maine, the decision was made.
Wyn Davies is a thirty-three year-old artist. She works on commission to bring in some much needed funds. She lives in one side of a duplex, with her husband Gus living on the other side. They have separated. Not because she doesn’t love him dearly, but because he has said she has ‘sold out’ by abandoning her art and taking commissions painting birch trees. Their four-year-old daughter, Avery, goes back and forth between the two halves of the house.
“How do you stay with someone who thinks you have sold your soul?”
“A good lie can become the truth”.
Wyn has lots of personal baggage. When she was just thirteen years old she was raped and very nearly killed in the woods behind her childhood home in New Hampshire. Her schoolmate, Robert Rousseau confessed to the crime and has been in prison for the past twenty years. Now… new evidence has been discovered which could exonerate Rousseau. Always fearful, Wyn lives her life in the limbo between truth and lies. Her parents, her best friend Pilar, and her husband Gus, do NOT know the truth of what happened to Wyn in the woods that day.
“I hated myself around Gus. I deplored who I had become. And isn’t that why we split up in the first place? It was like he’d turned a mirror and made me look at exactly who I was now.”
Unable to tolerate the growing chasm between her and Gus, Wyn takes Pilar up on her offer of staying at her house in Maine for the winter. Pilar had bought it sight unseen. The house, which has been unoccupied for years, is located on the remote Bluff’s Island. Upon arrival, Wyn and Avery find the house is ramshackle and in much need of serious repair. While in the basement trying to start the ancient furnace, Wyn notices a recessed area in the earthen wall containing a shoebox labelled “Epitaphs and Prophecies”. The shoebox is filled with undeveloped film canisters.
“I felt a strange sense of responsibilty. I had somehow become the unofficial curator of this photographer’s work. It was daunting.”
Curiosity leads Wyn to develop some of the film. The photos reveal a young woman with a young child. Photos of the house she is living in…
Wyn and Avery pass the early winter days trolling the beach for sea glass. Avery seems to be adapting well to the move, but at night she has reverted to wetting the bed. Wyn wonders if she did the right thing moving here – away from Gus.
Then… Wyn begins getting threatening messages…… and the re-opening of the Rousseau case looms.
The title references that special time of day, before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. Painting during that spectacular time of day known as the “golden hour”, when light is at its best.
The first two-thirds of this novel had me absolutely riveted. I liked Wyn, her tiny daughter Avery, and the atmospheric house on Bluff’s Island. I was curious and compelled to learn more about the mysterious woman who took the photos and how they would influence Wyn’s life.
I felt that the last third of the book let me down. Although there was a resolution of sorts for Wyn’s personal life, other aspects of the plot were not resolved to my satisfaction. As a result, my overall feelings for this novel suffered, along with my rating score.
Would I read another book by this author? Absolutely! Would I recommend this one? Yes, with some reservations.
Born in Vermont, T. Greenwood is the author of twelve novels. Two Rivers was named 2009 Best General Fiction Book at the San Diego Book Awards, and Grace received the same award for 2012. Five of her novels have been BookSense76/IndieBound picks. Bodies of Water was a finalist for a 2013 Lambda Award. She teaches creative writing for San Diego Writer’s Ink, Grossmont College, and online for The Writer’s Center. She and her husband, Patrick, live in San Diego, California with their two daughters. She is also a photographer.