August 28th 2022
On the surface, London’s hairdressing world in the 1960s is a world of glamour, wealth and celebrity. A world of excitement and opportunity. But all is not what it at first seems and the superficial gloss masks something deeper, more sinister.
Christine is young and trusting. She wants to escape from her dreary, crushing, home life, and she longs for love or – at the very least – romance. Frank is rich, good-looking and famous. He is a man of the world, with power and influence. The two of them are drawn to each other for very different reasons.
Can Christine learn to recognise truth from lies?
Violet Eyes is the story of Christine’s sacrifice and her gradual awakening.
After working many years in hairdressing, Elaine Ramsay was welcomed into the Civil Service after obtaining a BA Degree & Certificate of Education. She is an active creative writer in East Midlands writing groups and been shortlisted and highly commended in Writers’ Forum. Her first novel, The Pit (Matador, 2013) is an environmentally themed story in the style of Watership Down. Violet Eyes is her second novel.
Elaine Ramsay's compelling novel takes us into the fascinating world of the London hairdressing scene of the late 1950s to the 1960s through the eyes of its young protagonist, Christine.
The glamour, the travel, the camaraderie of the staff, I found all completely absorbing. This world and its characters were utterly convincing. And Frank, the charismatic, worldly wise salon owner, is an intriguing foil to the much younger, naïve Christine.
This is a beautifully crafted and moving story, with light and darkness, spanning both the past and its secrets and the present. The journey Christine takes throughout her life and the choices she makes will keeping you turning the pages and struggling to put this book down.
This is a well-paced and carefully structured novel. We begin and end with Christine in her seventies, trying to piece together the truth about events from earlier in her life. In between, the bulk of the story charts Christine’s development from a naïve fifteen year-old girl to a resilient, confident young woman. The setting is unusual and evocative: the world of high-end London hairdressing in the nineteen fifties and sixties.
Elaine Ramsay’s prose is full of well-described period detail, interesting characters and authentic plot twists which keep the reader wanting to turn the pages. From the beginning we are invested in Christine and want to follow her story. There is reflection too, as the younger Christine learns lessons in life – and the older Christine tries to come to terms with all that she has experienced.
I highly recommend this engrossing novel. And don’t be fooled by the front cover blurb! This is a very well-written, layered story which has much to say about life itself.
This is a lovely story. It begins in 2012, when the protagonist, Christine, comes to London to see a Consultant about a health issue. This allows her to revisit the places of her youth when she worked as a receptionist in a top London hairdressing salon.
Christine takes the reader with her back to 1955, when, as a teenager, she began to make her way and a career for herself. The beauty of this narrative is the freshness of the writing and the wonderful portrayal of London in the 1950s and 60s.
For Christine, life has not been without its trials and heartbreaks, but she makes good friends and develops into a strong and determined woman. I enjoyed reading how she developed into a savvy businesswoman and made lifelong friends along the way.
The author, Elaine Ramsay, draws the reader along on a fascinating journey through London and the diverse characters Christine has known. You will be cheering for Christine before you get to the perfectly crafted last word in this super novel.
Review of Violet Eyes
When Violet Eyes landed in my letterbox, I unwrapped it on the kitchen table and started reading. I was immediately hooked, empathising strongly with 15-year-old Christine as everything goes wrong on her way to her first, crucial, interview. I became so engrossed that I nearly missed an appointment! Picking the book up again later, I found it a real page-turner. The characters are realistically drawn and recognisable as people we may all have met or worked with. The twists and turns of the plot are believable, making the reader keen to match the glimpses of present-day Chrissie with the events of her early life, until the whole picture comes together satisfyingly at the end.
More realistic than a Barbara Taylor Bradford “saga”, and faster paced than Maeve Binchey, Elaine Ramsey’s writing will appeal to anyone who enjoys a novel about real people in plausible situations. Elaine draws on her own experience of the hairdressing trade in swinging 1960s London, which makes the plot all the more convincing. I can recommend Violet Eyes as an ideal novel to gift your female (or gay) friends for Christmas.
This is a great read with a well-paced narrative that keeps you turning the pages – there are plenty of surprises but they are all credible. Christine, the main character is a talented but unconfident woman who doesn’t take herself too seriously and is endearingly sensible and practical in her approach to life. The period detail of the fifties and sixties – chignons, white pleated skirts, fancy French dining and the emergence of Carnaby Street – is sensational. But this is more than a good story in a vintage setting. Elaine Ramsay presents Christine as a believable heroine, a woman who is fielding the social, economic and sexual revolutions of the last seven decades. This novel clearly depicts the limits and constraints on women’s prospects and thinking in a refreshingly matter-of-fact way that just adds to its force. Can’t help thinking that Jane Austen – herself so aware of the pressure of financial survival and social attitudes on women’s lives and choices – would give her seal of approval to Violet Eyes.