Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: Violet Shadows

Without her brother, Violet feels lost. Tristan gave his life as a Royal Air Force pilot in the war, and Violet now feels she must give just as much to not only avenge her brother, but follow his example of strength and bravery. Joining the French Resistance and donning the name Marie could give her what she wants...until she meets Philippe, one of the French gendarme - her enemy. 

Violet Shadows is a novella featuring the struggle of Violet Creeley to find her place in the now lonely world and serve a purpose. She has all but given up on having a real life. Her goal is to lose herself in a worthy effort and sacrifice as her brother did. The beauty of this story is that Violet's search for death leads her to experience life in a way she never expected. Her journey is brief, but memorable. 

Violet is a complex character. Her motivations for joining the resistance stem from the death of her brother, but also from being a very lost young woman who no longer seems to have a purpose in life. She basically borrows her brother's passion and purpose in the best way she can, and attempts to live the life he lost. This complex and deep motivation was a theme with all the characters. Even Jean, the roguish resistance fighter no one really trusts, has deeper motivations than you might think. Philippe, the French gendarme Violet befriends, is on the other side of the war effort, but his motivations are profound as well. The characters in this book make the story. The setting is France during the second world war, but the real focus is the lives of these people. Readers will care what happens to each one and want to follow their journey. 

The relationship between Violet and Philippe is also another drawing point. When they first meet, Violet is frightened and resistant. Philippe is the enemy, after all. But it quickly becomes apparent that Philippe wants a friend, not another person to arrest. Their friendship builds slowly. You won't get pages of steamy encounters. What you will get is a realistic portrayal of two people in very difficult circumstances becoming friends in the middle of a less than ideal situation. Both are faced with tough choices and heartbreak. Their story is one worth following to the end. 

This was a story I enjoyed quite a bit, for its history and characters. My only real complaint was that parts of the story could have been developed further. This was a novella, but I was left wondering at the end why the author didn't expand such a deep story. I found myself wanting to experience more with Violet and Phillipe, as well as Father Michel and the other Resistance fighters. There were opportunities to delve into the characters and story deeper that weren't taken. I enjoyed the book as it was, but I do think there were missed opportunities to expound on this story. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It's a quick read, but a worthwhile one. The characters will suck readers into their story. 

Who would I recommend this book to? This is a book that is a little harder to place. It has appeal to WW2-era and historical readers, but it doesn't go into as much detail about the circumstances of the time as other historical novels I've reviewed. The relationship is very well done, but is not as intense as those looking for a "romance" story might expect. This book is for those who are looking for a character driven, thought provoking read. It's one that will stay with you for a while. 


Violet Shadows is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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