Violets By Alex Hyde – A Review

Publisher: Granta

Publication Date: 3rd February 2022

It’s the 3rd of January as I write this review having read Violets by Alex Hyde in one sitting on New Years Day. I like to think that the first book read in a year sets the tone for future reading and if that’s the case I’m in for a brilliant reading year!

Violets tells the stories of two young women both named Violet. It is set in the 1940’s towards the end years of WW2. The book opens with the first Violet we meet, suffering a miscarriage of twins. She is rushed to hospital where she wakes from surgery to remove not only her ectopic pregnancy but also her womb, leaving her unable to have children. She has a husband who is a soldier who decides that now his wife is no longer having a baby he will apply to be stationed in India and continue to do his bit for the war effort. This leaves Violet at home, alone, coming to terms with her inability to bear children whilst watching her sister and friends navigate their love lives.

The second Violet we meet is from the Welsh valleys. She has just found out that she is unexpectedly pregnant with the child of a soldier who was just passing through. Alone and frightened of the consequences of admitting her pregnancy to her mother and family, Violet joins the army and gets posted away to Italy where her pregnancy continues in secret.

It is on the boat over to Italy that she bonds with Maggie, an enigmatic and vibrant woman and they form an unlikely friendship. Violet tries to conceal the pregnancy from those around her but there is obviously very little she can do in the long run and her predicament is eventually revealed.

The two Violets lives start to converge and the question of what makes a mother a mother is examined. Interspersed throughout the two Violet’s narratives are short pieces by an almost choral collective voice talking directly to the unborn baby calling him ‘pram-boy’. These sections are in italics and are poetic and lyrical. They break up the narrative and bring an interesting perspective.

The very end of this book made me cry and I’m not easily moved by books! It felt like everything had come good in the end. Both Violet’s having gone through struggles in their lives emerging as stronger women having made some tough decisions.

This is a book I would recommend easily to everyone and one I hope to read again. it has played on my mind since I finished it and will most definitely be one of my books of 2022.

See you all soon.

Amanda xx