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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Golden Hour
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 9 May 2012
Maggie has known Andrew for years; first they were friends, now they are lovers. Maggie and Andrew live separately, but Andrew is keen for them to move in together and although Maggie initially agrees, she is now having second thoughts. She does care for Andrew, but is he what she really wants? Does she love him enough? Is there someone else out there just waiting to fall in love with her? Although Maggie hasn't said anything to Andrew yet, he knows something is wrong and is deeply unhappy. Enter Jo, Maggie's best friend, who agrees to act as a go-between for them - but whose best interests does Jo have at heart?

Maggie's neighbours, Henry and Laura, although in their early fifties with years of marriage behind them and now quite settled, have their problems too. They both miss their absent son, Jack, and when they welcome an old school friend of his into their home, they begin to worry about the effect he is having on their impressionable teenage daughter. Added to that, Henry is having to come to terms with the fact that his career is now in decline, his garden is over-run with rabbits and when he employs a local 'Jack the Lad' to help, he ends up with more problems than he started with. And then on top of all of that, Laura's brother-in-law, Roddy, is having a mid-life crisis based in his garden shed where he fantasizes about Laura and makes plans to leave his wife and family and start a whole new life.

And that's not all, there are other characters to meet in this story - each with their own strengths and weaknesses and their own way of dealing (or not dealing) with their problems; some of these problems being fairly minor, others more profound. And somehow, William Nicholson makes us care about all of these people - some more than others maybe, but he describes his characters, their situations, and their interior lives so well, that the reader becomes involved as a willing spectator to their family dramas. Set in and around the lovely town of Lewes in East Sussex, 'The Golden Hour' is a very engaging and entertaining novel and one I really enjoyed and would be happy to recommend as a great weekend, holiday or bedtime read.

4 Stars.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2011
Like a benign and compassionate deity, William Nicholson reads his character's thoughts and feelings and offers them to us without censure. A picture of suburban life emerges to delight us - I read this on holiday and it was ideal.

But the thoughts and feelings are our own familiar inner worlds: our doubts, pains,conflicts, dilemmas - there is plenty here that is illuminating and thought provoking. What could be better?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2012
I have not found a book so enjoyable and inspiring since reading Vikram Seth's "Suitable Boy". Nicholson's work is reminiscent of Seth's in that he has great tenderness and affection for his characters and all their flaws and foibles. He also manages to create a very intimate portrait of one small community and its members but at the same time we have a powerful sense of a whole nation at a particular point in time. This is not an easy thing to achieve. Seth did it, and Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn did it. I am very proud that someone in this country is writing a 'condition of England' novel for us now. We need this kind of novel: highly intimate but also intellectual and philosophical, very down to earth but also highly spiritual. As a Catholic I strongly suspected that Nicholson was of my faith. I gather from his website that he is now lapsed. However from the caring tolerant kindliness which shines through his prose I sense that he retains far more of the faith than he realises.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2011
I suppose The Golden Hour completes a trilogy. It is the latest in the "Edenfield" series of novels which for me have revived an interest in fiction about modern day life. The real heroes of the trilogy are of course the South Downs. People visit them, commute from them & contemplate moving into that hinterland. This latest novel is slightly different from the previous two in that we now have some "lower class" crime which imposes itself upon what might be considered to be an essentially middle class mileu. Where did Sheena get her sense of proportion from when she forgave Dean for pinching a ruby ring from Laura & Henry?; he did it in order to consolidate his commitment to her. She repaired the damage by buying one from Argos after returning it. In fact this novel consists of a series of compromises & agreements between couples, long-standing & new, which does the heart good. Lust & love, both realistic & unrealistic are dealt with in this novel. Particularly well dealt with are the professional lives of the TV & film writers, Alan & Henry. But then, William Nicholson would know about the frustrations & pleasures of this. I wondered if Henry was Nicholson's alter ego. This novel is less salacious than the previous "All the Hopeful Lovers" but even so Belinda Redknapp, she of the "well endowed" previous boy friend episode makes a very brief appearance when she imparts to Laura her latest erotic contribution: "lubrication". I loved it. Thoroughly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
William Nicholson is the master of the slice of life novel, this one being set over 7 days in the summer of 2010. It follows four couples in the run-up to them meeting at a dinner party on the Saturday night at Henry and Laura's house. The four couples each have their own trials to deal with and the story simply follows that.

This is the third in a series of books set in Sussex. They feature some of the same characters, and it was lovely to meet them again, but they can be read as standalone novels.

I don't think The Golden Hour was quite as good as the first two, but as always Nicholson's characterisations are what make the story work. It's a very good read and I shall look forward to meeting some of the characters again in Motherland.
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on 20 August 2013
William Nicholson always enchants me with his writing style. It can seem to some that it is slow, not pacey enough, not enough narrative drive, but this is the thing I like most about it. That, and the utterly empathic nature of the characterisation. There is no one main character. Every time we switch point of view, we are thoroughly absorbed in that person's feelings and aspirations. We see not only how they act, but we understand why we act this way as well. Once I got used to the laid back pace, I realised that it forces me to relax and just enjoy the story without it pushing me along against my will. It can even seem at the end of one of his books that you haven't really been reading a story at all...just dipping into the lives of the residents of Edenfield at various points in their lives. I do most of my reading on the commute to work, and every time I dip back into one of his novels it feels like I'm returning to a familar dream. A parallel life that I care about almost as much as my own, but I know that at the end of the journey I must close the book, and like waking up, return to my own life.
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on 19 October 2012
I don't usually go in for novels about every day life, preferring books that are a little more escapist. This novel kept jumping out at me whilst browsing the Kindle bookstore so I decided step out of my comfort zone and give it a try.

While nothing particularly dramatic happened, following the lives of the various characters over a few days of summer was utterly absorbing.

The descriptions of Lewes and the surrounding area added to my enjoyment of the book and I found myself poring over a map of Lewes to place events and to try to find Edenfield.

I thought that the book was beautifully written and would recommend it as a proper "grown up" novel about being human.
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on 8 April 2015
Nicholson is a terrifically entertaining novelist in my view. His characters inhabit a Home Counties world of high rewards and jobs in the media and yet are burdened by the problem of being decent human beings who raise happy children within secure families. It's not an easy call and W.N writes with perception and sensitivity. He's particularly good at women - one of the few male novelists I know who writes with compassion and humour of his female protagonists. Updike is another.
This novel races along with loads of quick fire dialogue at which the writer excels. You can tell he's a scriptwriter.
I took this on a long flight and it kept me going and left me with plenty to think about.
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VINE VOICEon 9 February 2013
William Nicholson is a clever. The can build a drama about the week in the life of a group of individuals whose lives overlap. From the old and frail to the young, across classes, across various jobs, he lets us inside the hearts and minds of the protagonists. We learn of their fears and their dreams, their disappointments and their hopes. It's beautifully written, although the narrative voice spins around a little. There's plenty of symbolism too, literary references and insights into different professions. Lovely book. When's the next in the series coming out?
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on 19 October 2012
This books deals with the lives of 4 couples during the whole week before they meet at a dinner party given by one of them.
It also deals with their families and the problems they are having.
It took a bit of time to get into the story, and to recognize who all the caracters were, but then it became quite good, and I could not put the book down.
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