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v is for violetWhat: V is for Violet by Alison Rattle

Who: Hot Key Books

When: June 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Allen and Unwin for review.

RRP: $16.99 (AUD)

Battersea, 1961. London is just beginning to enter the swinging sixties. The world is changing – but not for sixteen-year-old Violet. She was born at the exact moment Winston Churchill announced Victory in Europe – an auspicious start, but now she’s just stuck in her family’s fish and chip shop dreaming of greatness. And it doesn’t look like fame and fortune are going to come calling anytime soon. Then she meets Beau. Beau’s a rocker – a motorcycle boy who arrives in an explosion of passion and rebellion. He blows up Violet’s grey little life, and she can’t believe her luck. But things don’t go her way for long. Joseph, her long-lost brother, comes home. Then young girls start going missing, and turning up murdered. And then Violet’s best friend disappears too. Suddenly life is horrifyingly much more interesting. Violet can’t believe its coincidence that Joseph turns up just as girls start getting murdered. He’s weird, and she feels sure he’s hiding something. He’s got a secret, and Violet’s got a dreadful feeling it might be the worst kind of secret of all…

3cats2Something was simply missing for me when it comes to V is for Violet.  At first, I thought it might have been the time period – I’ve read another book set around the same time, and I wasn’t the hugest fan of that one – but then I realised that the descriptions of the sixties were perhaps some of the only things I genuinely enjoyed about this book. I think, sadly, that it was actually Violet who made this book not so great for me.

I know she was probably a product of her time, but Violet’s views on things were so problematic and judgemental. Her thoughts on divorce and sex and sexuality all had me cringing whenever she mentioned these things, and it was kind of painful to read about. It seemed to me that she had led a pretty sheltered life, because she didn’t even realise that there are reasons that people need to divorce one another, despite marriage vows and whatever else. So I didn’t really enjoy that about her at all.

Violet was also very self hating, and threw a bit of a Sandra Dee about halfway into the book. She was always going on about how boring she was, and how she looked terrible in her clothes, and no wonder boys didn’t like her. And then a biker boy comes along and she goes and buys a leather jacket and eye makeup and starts doing her hair the same as biker girls. Changing for a guy didn’t really make me warm up to her, but on the other hand at least she was willing to try and change for herself – she liked herself a lot better as a biker girl, so kudos to Violet for that, I guess.

I thought that the mystery of V is for Violet would be huge – after all, the blurb makes it out that it’s going to be a novel about Violet searching for her best friend. Which, sadly, wasn’t the case at all. Yes, her best friend goes missing, but is found dead later a few pages later. V is for Violet was less about figuring out who the murderer was, and more about Violet changing herself and making moon eyes at the biker boy.

In terms of the mystery, though, it was pretty much Violet convincing herself that her long lost brother was the culprit, and has murdered the girls in town. This was kind of cumbersome, if I’m being completely honest. It felt very cliché that it was the brooding brother who was supposed to be the killer, and to be honest I never bought into Violet’s theory. Even though she apparently was always “right” – which she really wasn’t. Like, ever.

There was a character that told Violet they were gay, and she accepted this incredibly fast. I mean, I wanted this person to be accepted (especially since I had caught onto the fact that they were gay), but it just seemed a little incongruent with Violet’s attitudes that were expressed previously. To be honest, I would have preferred to have seen so much more of this character, and their relationship with Violet after their confiding because that was the aspect of V is for Violet that I enjoyed the most. And it was only about the last three or so chapters.

Overall, I was slightly disappointed in V is for Violet. However, I did enjoy the sixties vibe, and the complete acceptance of a certain character’s sexuality.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: murder, rape, abduction, attempted murder, and homophobia in this novel

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Posted on: June 21, 2016 • By: Chiara

8 Responses to Review: V is for Violet by Alison Rattle

  1. The characterisation of this book does seem a little off, no? To be perfectly honest, I only read the first chapter when skimming through books at the library – I was considering picking it up, but Violet’s degrading thoughts sort of put me off of her as a character, honestly. I’m glad to hear I didn’t go through with it, seeing as how you didn’t enjoy that aspect (or many of the others, for that matter). Ah well – better books abound, let us hope!

    • Chiara says:

      I was not particularly sold early on, either, so I’m not surprised you passed on it, lovely! I wish that the aspects I’d enjoyed had played a bigger role – I think this would have been a very enjoyable book if that has been the case. Always!

  2. I’m glad Violet found a better part of herself that she liked but the fact that she did it for a guy kind of makes me cringe. I’m glad you found some parts you enjoyed though although Violet sounds pretty annoying.

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, I would have loved Violet to realise she wanted to changer just for herself, and not have a guy spur it on. There were some really good parts, but overall I wasn’t really enamoured, sadly.

  3. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. It seems like Violet was really difficult to like, and I hate when girls change themselves for guys. Bummer that the mystery aspect wasn’t used more! That would be have been interesting.

    -Lauren

    • Chiara says:

      Always! Violet definitely wasn’t a character I fell in love with, and the fact that her desire to change herself stemmed from a guy was a tad disappointing. I know! I love a good mystery :)

  4. Romi says:

    Wow, I’m only A WHOLE MONTH LATE GOOD JOB ME. But, I didn’t procrastinate a series *ahm* Heartland *ahm* for over a decade, so I think I’m still at a reasonable stage of lateness. I will never forget the hilarity of finding out you had put off finishing (and still are, assumedly?) the series for that long. Even if you had good reason. I AM ALL THE HILARITY.

    But to your review! I knew you felt meh about this already, but it was interesting to read your detailed thoughts and see the aspects you did like and that made it more enjoyable, in addition to the things that weren’t your favourite. Violet does sound like a character that one might struggle with, and I imagine I would have found her rather irritating (the changing yourself for someone isn’t a trope I like at all, but I do like the way you say she liked herself more, and partly did it for herself, since that rarely seems to happen? Also, I’m assuming (but not looking up, because I’m in reviewer mode rn) that Sandra Dee is Sandy? From Grease?). I’m glad that Violet was accepting, though, amidst the things she was judgemental and non-accepting, about the person who came out to her. That makes my heart sing, a little, and remember just how 109% brilliant and awesome and heartsingingly wonderful you were when I came out to you. MEMORIES.

    Lovely review, Chiara. It made me think quite a lot, which I like so much. xx

    • Chiara says:

      ‘Tis fine, ’tis fine. I am pretty sure I’ve been super late on a number of your posts so ;D HEY, THAT IS BECAUSE THERE IS LEGIT TRAUMA INVOLVED WITH FINISHING THAT SERIES, OKAY? And now I want to re-read it and experience it all over again before I finally DO finish it. Hmph.

      Ah, yes. Violet was definitely not a favourite character to read about, but when I think back on her, she was quite interesting. Yes, Sandra Dee is Sandy from Grease, haha. And I did like that she changed in part because SHE wanted to, not SOLELY because of the hot biker guy.

      I just wish Violet had been more accepting of other things, as well, or had a journey of acceptance, because whilst it was lovely, there was a part of me that was wondering if she truly would have responded in such a way. <3 <3 <3

      Thank you, lovely!

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