A mesmerizing story about an artist who must paint not only the light but also the shadows, and find the truth in the contrast between the light and the dark.
It was a beautiful grasshopper green spring afternoon with a cerulean blue sky when 13-year-old Wyn Davies took a shortcut through the birch woods in her New Hampshire hometown. The truth about what really happened in those woods would become a secret she promised not to tell. Now, twenty years later, she lives in Brooklyn, New York on the opposite side of the duplex from her husband, with her adorable 4-year-old daughter, Avery, shuttling between the two of them. Wyn makes her living painting commissioned canvases of birch trees to match her clients furnishings. She is at home painting when she gets a google alert that Robbie Rousseau, who has spent the past two decades in prison for his confessed crime against her, may be released based on new DNA evidence, unless she will agree to testify against him.
To escape the media frenzy, clear her head and focus on her painting, Wyn agrees to help her best friend, Pilar, fix up her newly purchased ramshackle house on a remote island in Maine. The house has been empty for years and in the basement Wyn discovers a box of film canisters labeled “Epitaphs and Prophecies.” Like time capsules the photographs help her piece together the life of the house’s former owner an artistic young mother much like Wyn. But there is a mystery behind the film images and unraveling it will force Wyn to finally confront what really happened to her in those woods twenty years ago.
“I am haunted by the birches, by what lives beyond the edges of the canvas, by those things for which there are no colors to paint.”
The golden hour is that magical time in the evening just before sunset, when the the reflection of the sun bathes the earth in a beautiful honeyed hue. It was the golden hour when Wyn hears the news about Robbie, and it was in this same hour that she knew that her carefully held promise about what happened in the woods would be broken. As an avid sunset photographer, I love the book title and how the golden hour was woven throughout the book. Right from the start this book grabbed me and would not let go. It’s tender, it’s riveting and it’s gut-wrenching.
Wyn’s character comes to life on the pages, her story is timely and compelling. She evocatively propels the narrative with her struggles as a wife, a mother, an artist and a victim of a violent crime. All the characters are well drawn, best friend Pilar, and husband Gus in particular. My absolutely favorite, however, was daughter Avery, who brings lightness and joy to the story. I listened to the Audible version of the book and narrator Thérèse Plummer did a great job, particularly with Avery’s voice. Fell in love with that little girl.
Author T. GREENWOOD’s writing is beautiful. The story is smartly structured and expertly layered. She skillfully transports us to Pilar’s house on a bitterly cold island off the coast of Maine, only accessible by ferry. I felt as if I was there. I could hear the old floors creak, see the crumbling stairs, and feel the whoosh of the pilot light of the furnace. One of my favorites layers of the story is Wyn’s discovery, investigation and decision regarding the truth about the film canisters found in the basement. Greenwood has truly captured a story that mesmerizing and immensely satisfying.
Publisher Kensington/Random House Audio
Published February 28, 2017
Narrator Thérèse Plummer
“This is the thing about a lie: over time, it not only obscures the truth but consumes it. Those who pursue veracity(those dogooders, those seekers) see truth not as an abstract thing but something concrete. Strong, vivid, with an unassailable right to prevail. But those who fight for it, who fight in the name of it, do not understand that truth is anemic, weak. Especially in the hands of an accomplished liar. Especially over years. 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.”