Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan by Deborah Reed

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Twenty years of widowhood and still Violet ached at the loss…. as the only person in the world that she had wanted to absorb into her life from the moment she’d laid eyes on him – she, Violet Swan, whose time alone was its own heaven on earth.

From the very beginning, there was just something about this book where I felt soothed when reading about Violet Swan. Hearing from her, and her perspective of but also in their own voices, of her son, grandson and daughter-in-law were just comforting or comfortable to settle in with and read about each day.

In some small ways, I was reminded of The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon. In small ways. Perhaps because we heard the perspectives from all of the MacEntee family members and they were heavy with their own flaws as well.

Similar again to The Long, Hot Summer because we start out with Violet, and sort of end with Violet as well. In MacMahon’s book, the matriarch Deidre is how we begin and end the story.

I don’t know what it was, but all I could ever think of when I was reading was how calm and soothed I felt. I thoroughly enjoyed Violet’s story, and her family. Their flaws are deep, but her love for them is deeper. I’ll admit there was some looseness or missing pieces to the story I would have like to see fleshed out more, but those felt more like small issues because of how much I was enjoying the story overall.

Violet is in her nineties, and is dying. It’s not her age however, she is a strong and independent woman, a successful artist that is still actively painting. It’s that she’s dying of cancer and it’s a secret she’s been keeping from her family. Often times, Violet goes falls deep into her memories, and piece by piece we are taken on a journey through her life as a young girl escaping Georgia to her life as an artist and married to the love of her life. Those moments where she was remembering her husband, how they came to be married, were some beautiful and tender moments.

Violet also has a long kept secret, one that only she knows of and only reveals at the very, very end of her life. Her grandson has long wished to film the story of her life and how she became a successful artist. His wish was long dismissed for Violet had no intention of sharing her secrets.

A number of incidents spur Violet on to finally part with her deep and long-held true stories, one being an earthquake, something that unsettles a lot of hidden issues in her son and daughter-in-law’s lives and secondly, her grandson returns home with a daughter in tow, and that as well shakes up family issues and secrets.

The most wonderful moments were when Violet would slip into her memories and some of those moments were so tender and felt so calming and soothing. She would contemplate the love for her only son, her husband, her one true and good friend – I don’t know what it was, but I felt so relaxed and just settled in nicely every time I picked up this story.

The ending is beautiful, and Violet’s grandson has made a beautiful tribute to his grandmother and all I can say about this book is that it was wonderful and the right book at the right time, and at a much needed time!

Thank you so much to Mindbuck Media for sending for me to read! This book will be available in June!

DEBORAH REED is the author of the novels Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan, The Days When Birds Come Back, Olivay, Things We Set on Fire, and Carry Yourself Back to Me. She has written two thrillers under the pen name Audrey Braun. She lives on the coast of Oregon and is the owner of Cloud & Leaf Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Manzanita.

When asked what it’s like to own a bookstore, Reed says it’s like a childhood fantasy come true (yes! we’ll just have to live vicariously through her!) It is a little like being a bartender, therapist, writing coach, activity coordinator, and psychic. People tell me all kinds of things that are important to them, and I am often surprised and moved at their personal stories. There is not a lot of small talk around here. I wonder if it’s because we are surrounded by stories and the potential to be moved by stories we haven’t yet heard. We are in the presence of something that is known to change lives, and it seems to me that this is never far from our awareness. It also seems to me that if you can discuss books with people, you can bridge just about any gap that might have otherwise separated you. Purchasing the bookstore has been one of the greatest pleasures and best decisions I’ve ever made. I mean, every book at my fingertips every day of my life. And two blocks from the ocean. Who gets this? It’s like a childhood fantasy come true.