Ronni's life will never be as glamorous and exciting as Violet's was, with the men who fall at her feet and seemingly endless zest for life she was a real character. Even in her death Violet never failed to surprise everyone and, by leaving a strange request in her will for Ronnie, all her misdeeds and adventures will be revealed.
Thank you to Zooloo's Book Tour for introducing me to this novel! Romance combined with post-war fiction doesn't always tickle my fancy but something about the mystery around Violet and Ronnie really pulled me in. My fellow bloggers will no doubt be in agreement of the wonderful story we've read together.
Within the first few chapters I was obsessed with Ronnie and Violet, there was one word that came to mind when reading this book, every page was charming. The writing was encapsulating, the characters were well-rounded and the changing timeline kept me engaged throughout. Violet in particular really became a beacon of light for the novel, somehow Duke managed to project her enthusiasm and passion for everything out of the pages and into the heart of the reader. Bold and unafraid of consequence, the older Violet was refreshing and inspirational after reading such a restricted and withheld version of her from the past. Everything about her was exactly what it needed to be, one-of-a-kind and exceptionally memorable.
Serious issues are raised in this novel that Duke navigates without any hesitation or sugar coating, Violet's history of spousal abuse and Ronni's experience with neglectful parental figures really added depths to the plot, which was already working well toward a strong character-based novel for a regular book club pick. The concept itself is original. Using your will to instruct someone to write a novel about your life is definitely something only Violet could have done but I was slightly disappointed that the time limit given to Ronnie of one year faded away after a few chapters and isn't really mentioned much again. The intensity of her writing schedule is mentioned in passing but the timeframe is lost when there were no specific references to when we were in Ronnie's life.
Deep down I wanted to give this five fat stars, it was lovely to read and once I hit halfway it was difficult to put it down again and I stormed through the last half in a few hours. Everything about this novel felt real and without exaggeration. Violet and Ronnie's relationship, along with those Violet herself had with Johnny, Sam and Chet became tangible on the page as they developed. Obviously, I couldn't discuss this book without the extremely compelling twist, nothing can be given away because I want everyone to experience the jaw-dropping revelation but Beth Duke, well done. What a reveal! Everything pulled together for a nice finish, but I couldn't help have a small niggle of dissatisfaction when it came to Ronnie's story, there did seem to be less focus on fully developing her plot than Violet's.
Overall, a brilliant novel that I'm sure anyone would enjoy. It didn't end up being the "great love story" for Violet and her male companions I had expected but that didn't matter, it was more Violet's own story which was one of development and happiness and that was enough for me.