Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Categories: Literary, Family Life
Life hasn’t always been perfect for Abe and Cassandra Green, but an afternoon on the San Francisco Bay might be as good as it gets. Abe is a rheumatologist, piloting his coveted new boat. Cassandra is a sculptor, finally gaining modest attention for her art. Their beautiful daughter, Elizabeth, is heading to Harvard in the fall. Somehow, they’ve made things work. But then, out of nowhere, they plunge into a terrible fight. Cassandra has been unfaithful. In a fit of fury, Abe throws himself off the boat.
A love story that begins with the end of a marriage, The Violet Hour follows a modern family through past and present, from the funeral home in the Washington suburbs where Cassandra and her siblings grow up to the San Francisco public health clinic where Abe and Cassandra first meet. As the Greens navigate the passage of time—the expectations of youth, the concessions of middle age, the headiness of desire, the bitterness of loss—they must come to terms with the fragility of their intimacy, the strange legacies they inherit from their parents, and the kind of people they want to be. Exquisitely written, The Violet Hour is the deeply moving story of a family suddenly ripped apart, but then just possibly reborn.
The Violet Hour had a promising beginning. The first chapter was lovely and contained a great set-up. After that things went a little haywire for this reader.
I did enjoy the characters and some aspects of this story. Sadly, there were just too many things happening at once.
Funeral homes, sculpture, medicine, sailing, siblings, and adultery were all covered in this book. On their own, those are great topics worthy of a story. But, they were all smashed together resulting in a murky narrative that seemed directionless.
Even Hurricane Katrina made a number of appearances in this story, for no reason that I could see. The book is set in Maryland and no one in the book is affected by the hurricane. It didn’t make sense for it to be brought up numerous times.
Perhaps the author was trying for a melting pot of hot button topics? It didn’t work for me.