V For Violet by Alison Rattle, published by Hot Key Books in April 2016
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.
‘V For Violet’ by Alison Rattle is set in the 1960’s. I’ve been trying to think and I don’t think I’ve actually read anything set in the sixties before. It’s not my favourite period but it was an interesting choice and worked well not only with the overall themes of the book but also in terms of showing what post-war society was like for a lot of teenagers. I’m doubtful that the historical setting will appeal to all readers however.
The main character Violet has finished school and is working in her parents fish and chip shop. She’s afraid of being left behind by her best friend who has a job in a factory, new friends and a fella on her arm. When Violet meets the dangerous and exciting Beau, she discovers the possibility of a romance of her own. However, she also has family problems to deal with when her long presumed dead brother returns, at the same time that girls from the area start turning up dead. I really liked Violet and I could identify with some of the feelings she had at the start about finding her place and the worry she has about what’s coming next. Having left school behind, the real world is opening up to her and that can be scary. She grows a lot as a character throughout the story and I think even surprises herself by the end.
Unfortunately the overall book was a bit hit and miss for me. There were parts I liked and thought were well done and there were other aspects of the story that felt a bit rushed. It seemed like Alison Rattle was trying to work a lot of different threads into the story and not all of them were given enough attention. The mystery element of the book was probably my favourite part but I was disappointed with the outcome. I don’t want to spoil anything about the plot but I thought this could have had much more impact if a different direction had been taken in terms of the murderer. The romance between Violet and Beau was okay but I didn’t feel any real sparks between them and Beau came across as a bit one-dimensional at times. The storyline with Violet’s brother could have been quite powerful but again, I think this wasn’t given enough attention until near the end of the book and by then I didn’t feel invested enough in the conclusion.
What I do like about Alison Rattle’s books is that they are all so different and she doesn’t restrict herself to one particular time-frame, setting of theme. You never know what to expect from her stories. Although this wasn’t a huge hit with me, I have enjoyed her writing in the past, so I'll put this title to one side and will look forward to whatever she has in store for readers next.