I honestly don’t know whether or not I’ve read this book before. I may have-I really liked Landvik for a period of time and was happy to rediscover her. This is a marvelous book. Just the sort of story to wrap yourself up in and enjoy. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking. The conceit is that you are a visitor to a diner and an old lady starts telling you a story, and it’s the story of her life. And what a story it is.
Violet grows up poor and homely with a drunk mean bitter father (after her mother has run off when she was very young.) At 16 Violet seems to be making a way for herself by having found a job at a thread factory, which is nice for her because not only is she working and surrounded by nice people, but she has dreams of being a fashion designer. Sadly and dramatically, though, she loses her arm in a machine. That clinches it for Violet-her terrible life needs to end. So she boards a bus for the Golden Gate Bridge, where she plans to jump to her death. Along the way, rather fatefully, the bus breaks down in a small town in North Dakota. And it’s there that Violet’s life turns around. She meets Kjel-a handsome Nordic young man with a beautiful voice and charisma, and his friend Austin-a black man with an amazing musical ability. Somewhat improbably the three of them set off on the road together. The story of their lives is filled with ups and down galore, wild success (Elvis level success) and failure, and historical detail, too.
I loved this.