Monday, May 3, 2010
Review: Violet Clay
The story of a young artist's coming of age, Violet Clay explores a woman's efforts to come to terms with a life that has turned out quite differently from her expectations. Violet Clay, orphaned as a small child, shuffled through boarding schools, finds her adult self with only one family member to speak of, her uncle Ambrose, a troubled writer. Ambrose has never managed to finish his second book, and Violet has failed to become an artist of note. A move to New York brings Violet little success. Eight years after her move she finds herself stagnating at art, life, and love. When Ambrose commits suicide, Violet takes the opportunity to move to her uncle's remote upstate cabin to try and reinvent her life. Godwin does an excellent job of creating complex worlds around her characters, and Violet Clay is no exception. Violet's history and psyche are richly drawn, and Godwin deftly recreates Charleston, New York City, and upstate New York. I did find some of Violet's relationships to be somewhat tiresome. Indeed, Violet herself is tiresome, the poster child for a navel-gazing artist's personality. Still, this is an intriguing book: more interesting than the story of an artist trying to figure herself out might seem.
Gail Godwin, Violet Clay (Penguin, 1986) ISBN: 0140082204