Reviewed by Emma Kingston
Every now and then you come across a book that forces you to look at yourself and teaches you something about yourself and the world around you that you didn’t know or had failed to acknowledge. For me they are amongst the best books, that is the point of reading. The Violet Hour certainly falls into that category.
It is the story of a family and the trials and tribulations that they experience across a number of years. There is love, passion, marriage, family dilemmas and everyday life, divorce, legacy, infidelity, heartbreak and bereavement. It’s a slightly dysfunctional family trying desperately to find a ‘normal’ way to function, but isn’t that like most families? That really is the point of The Violet Hour. It isn’t overly dramatic; it depicts things that happen every day in varying degrees. To you, or to someone you know, to the couple down the street.
Katherine Hill presents you with the sequence of events in a very matter of fact way. She maps out the story of Cassandra, Abe and their daughter Elizabeth, starting with an explosive argument about an affair, and then tracing you back through the journey that got them there. Even if you haven’t experienced the heartbreak or confusion that ensues, you will find something familiar in the family connections, the relationships, the evolving feelings and experiences. There is something eerily familiar, yet wholly alien in the world that Hill invites you into.
The unusual narrative style reminded me a little bit of American Beauty, unmasking the American dream and reminding us that life isn’t perfect, but that we are in control of our own destinies. It is up to us to steer and pick our way through the challenges that life throws at us. The story jumps between characters and eras making it slightly fractious, but not in a bad way. It left you to piece each characters story together. It shows you the story, but it allows you to fill in the missing pieces yourself.
A thoroughly enjoyable read that has stayed with me long after I put it down. I look forward to reading more by Katherine Hill!