Featured books at Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore: The Golden Hour; A Good American

The Golden Hour

“This smoothly written debut . . . captures the innocence and impetuousness of youth…. Wurtele carefully looks beyond religious and cultural stereotypes and her heroine’s character growth is moving and realistic.” –Booklist

“Offers a strong sense of time and place.” –Publishers Weekly

“Set in the danger and drama of Italy during the Second World War, The Golden Hour is an enthralling story of love, family, and courage. Margaret Wurtele has delivered a lush, suspenseful, and thoroughly engaging read.” –Lynn Sheene, author of The Last Time I Saw Paris

World War II-set fiction captivates readers with its irresistible combination of fear and hope set against one of the most turbulent times in history. New American Library is proud to publish talented debut novelist Margaret Wurtele, whose beautiful and moving story is a testament to the indomitable spirit of the people struggling to survive during the strife of the World War II era.  The Golden Hour begins in the summer of 1944 in Tuscany and portrays love and hope in a war-torn nation.  In a story woven with historical detail, Wurtele explores the emotion, fear, and hope that permeate the rarely explored landscape of World War II Italy.

Seventeen-year-old Giovanna Bellini sees firsthand the devastating effects of the war.  Following the Italian government’s peace agreement with the Allies, Giovanna watches as the German military invades her town, forming a hostile occupying army. At first, Giovanna is fascinated by the Nazi officers, but as the war strips away Giovanna’s naïveté and harsh realities are exposed, her brother Giorgio recruits her to aid in the Italian Resistance. When she is asked to hide wounded Jewish freedom fighter Mario Rava, Giovanna finds herself falling for the brave young man. The world around her is in constant turmoil and when terrible truths are revealed, threatening the lives of everyone Giovanna cares about, she is forced to make unimaginable sacrifices and decisions.

Margaret Wurtele is the author of two memoirs. She and her husband split their time between Minnesota and Napa Valley, where they are owners of Terra Valentine Winery.


A Good American

“A Good American is a quixotic immigration tale wrapped in exquisite finery, from the opening promise of everlasting music, to the closing declaration that one’s own ordinary life is anything but ordinary. Don’t miss this new voice in American fiction.” —Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kansas

“Stunning, just stunning. Meet the Meisenheimer family through the eyes of grandson James as he relates the story of his immigrant family through nearly a century of American history. Peppered with remarkable characters: a jazz trumpeter who cooks a mean gumbo, a promiscuous school teacher, a dwarf… need I say more? You will laugh out loud, then cry your eyes out. This novel is priceless, and a gem of a read.” —Carol Katsoulis, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, Illinois

An uplifting novel about the families we create and the places we call home.

It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead (“What’s the difference? They’re both new”), and later find themselves in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together.

Beatrice is populated with unforgettable characters: a jazz trumpeter from the Big Easy who cooks a mean gumbo, a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant, a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn about a lot more than just music, a minister who believes he has witnessed the Second Coming of Christ, and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf.

A Good American is narrated by Frederick and Jette’s grandson, James, who, in telling his ancestors’ story, comes to realize he doesn’t know his own story at all. Poignant, funny, and heartbreaking, A Good American is a novel about being an outsider—in your country, in your hometown, and sometimes even in your own family.

Alex George is an Englishman who lives, works, and writes in Missouri. He studied law at Oxford University and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris before moving to the United States in 2003.


Both books are available at Monkey See Monkey Read in downtown Northfield.

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