“The Violet Hour” by Katherine Hill

3.5 / 5 Stars

I just finished reading The Violet Hour, a book written by someone who was in my graduating class in high school. It’s her first novel, though she’s had short stories published before and has been working in the literary field for years. It’s not often that someone you know, even someone you knew years ago, publishes a novel so I picked up a copy at my local bookstore as soon as it was available.

Plot Synopsis

The Violet Hour takes place after the divorce of Abe and Cassandra Green. The bulk of the story is 8 years after the event that triggered the divorce of the couple and daughter Elizabeth has just finished med school, but flashbacks flesh out the story of Cassandra and Abe. This family comes together once again due to a death, giving them the opportunity to change their relationships with each other and the way they look at the world.

Review

There are a lot of things to like about The Violet Hour. For one thing, Hill’s writing style is a pleasure. She describes ordinary things in extraordinary ways and captures the essence of feelings that are difficult to describe. The flow of words crafting moments in time sucked me in. Hill is not one to “tell,” instead she paints vivid pictures with her words.

Hill’s masterful characterization made the characters seem like real people, as if they were people you might run into on the street and get to know. Their actions and thoughts recall real world experiences you have had in your life. Centered around a death in the family, the familial bonds rang true and evoke memories of family reunions and private loss.

However, this book is not for those who prefer a more conventional plot with a resolution. I read the book right through to the end very quickly, hungering for the conclusion. When I got there, it was anticlimactic. It didn’t answer the question of what happens next, which was left to the imagination. I generally don’t mind books that leave what happens next to the imagination, but the end of this book seemed loose and unfinished instead of just open ended.

I also wondered why, in a book with three main characters, Hill chose to write a few chapters from the point of view of minor characters. I wondered what purpose it served and it pulled me away from the connections with the family at the core of the story. Overall, this book felt more like a study of characters and relationships more than a novel, and exploring the relationships are interesting. However,  I found the chapters from the point of views of the minor characters a bit disruptive. It captured a slice of the family’s life, but left me wanting more structure and resolution. All in all, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more works by Katherine Hill.

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