Pale Morning Light With Violet Swan by Deborah Reed
There is nothing more exciting to me than to discover a wonderful new novel written by an extraordinary author. In this case, Deborah Reed is that author and PALE MORNING LIGHT WITH VIOLET SWAN is the amazing new novel I’m excited about. In fact, I’ve already decided this novel is coing along on my lecture tour for fall and winter.
The setting for most of this story is along the gorgeous Oregon coast. Reed shows us the amazing natural beauty of this part of the country in prose that sparkles and pops and colors that show off the abstract loveliness of Violet’s paintings. By the time I was deeply into this wonderful novel I was yearning to be right there on the coast listening to the ocean and enjoying the briny scents in the air.
The story begins when Violet is ninety-three. She’s become a famous abstract artist and now lives comfortably in the loft of the home she and her husband built. Now she shares it with her son and his wife, Penny. Her husband passed some years ago. Not a day goes past that she doesn’t miss him dearly. At first it appears that Violet is living a charmed life. Well, she pretty much is presently. But as we begin seeing flashbacks we find her childhood has been anything but charmed. In fact, traumatizing would be a better word.
At a young age Violet was involved in a horrific accident that killed both her younger sister and her father. It changed her mother forever and as she became closely involved with a religious group we see this is not a good place for young Violet to be. And so Violet runs away from her home in rural Georgia at the age of fourteen. She’s on a mission to make it across the country to the Pacific coast. She has an address in Oregon, given to her by a young man who meant well. Her trials and tribulations during this cross country trek are some of the harshest I’ve ever read. She hops trains, lives with strangers, works at odd jobs, and meets good and bad people. Honestly, I don’t know how she lived through it.
The time line begins at the start of World War Two. But the war has very little to do with it. This is not a WW11 novel. I want to make that very clear. This is the story of a woman’s life. How she was born and raised, what made her who she is. How she became a great artist. And the unbelievable secrets she manages to keep from her family all her life.
The many layers of this beautiful novel are exposed bit by bit as they are peeled back to reveal the parts of Violet’s past that made her the artist and woman she is at age 93. The story begins early on with a powerful earthquake hitting the coast and jogging Violet’s memory. She’s been such a secretive person, never sharing the harsh moments of her youth with her loving family. But something about the earthquake causes Violet to rethink this. And now that there are serious health issues to face, she is having a change of heart….
PALE MORNING LIGHT WITH VIOLET SWAN is rife with strained relationships. Father and son. Son and mother. Grandson and entire family. Son and wife. This is real life. It’s filled with heartache and seething emotions. Written in stunning prose, this new novel is both tragic and epic. The earthquake shook more than just the earth, it shook up the entire foundation of this woman’s secret life.
Deborah Reed is the author of several novels. She owns the Cloud & Leaf Bookstore , an Indy bookstore, in Manzanita, Oregon. My review copy arrived from Mariner’s books via Houghton Mifflin Books in exchange for an honest review. I am especially grateful to Emily Keough of Mindbuck Media Book Publicity for telling me about this amazing novel and arranging the book to be sent to me.
I absolutely adored the book, the entire reading experience was superb. Put this one at the top of your toberead list.