On the surface, London’s hairdressing world in the 1960’s 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.
"Elaine Ramsay succeeds in summoning up London in the early sixties with all its glamour and tawdriness. Her characters feel authentic and recognisable. It’s a thoroughly absorbing read."
Brian Keaney, Author
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.
Helen Anderton (Guest Review) - 10 Oct, 2022
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.
Wendy Manning (Guest Review) - 30 Jan, 2023
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.
Elaine Ramsay - 29 Aug, 2022
David Blackie 8 August 2022
Lessons In Life
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.
Brian Keaney, Author (Guest Review) - 01 Aug, 2022
It is 1955 and fifteen-year-old Christine, sitting on a commuter train on her way to an interview for an apprenticeship in a Central London hairdressing salon, possesses the innocence both of her age, and of the times into which she has been born. But the Swinging Sixties are just around the corner and everything is about to change. The reader watches in helpless fascination as Christine struggles to understand the behaviour of those around her, and to find a path for herself through the new world being born all around her. Elaine Ramsay succeeds in summoning up London in the early sixties with all its glamour and tawdriness. Her characters feel authentic and recognisable. It’s a thoroughly absorbing read.
Elaine Ramsay - 29 Aug, 2022
Kindle Customer 11 August 2022
Hard To Put Down
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.
Maxine Linnell (Guest Review) - 12 Aug, 2022
It’s 1955, and Christine is 15. She’s got ambition and she’s got dreams, but her mother has undermined her all her life. Christine knows nothing about the world of sophisticated hair salons, but that’s where she wants to be, more than anything. In Violet Eyes we meet her going for her first interview. She’s soaking wet and there are holes in her stockings. She gets there late.
Right from the start, Christine is in jeopardy. It’s a fiercely competitive world, and she’s spotted and exploited for her looks and her enthusiasm. But whatever that world throws at her – and so much happens in this book – she picks herself up and moves on. She doesn’t always get what she wants, but she takes risks and she’s fully alive.
Elaine Ramsay skilfully reveals Christine’s progress through the relationships and friendships she makes; there’s a big cast of colourful and memorable characters. Violet Eyes shows us Christine’s life as a young woman, and as she’s aging in 2012. In these chapters she’s not looking back at everything; there are still discoveries to be made, truths to be told and a life to live. There’s sadness, humour and drama, together with a lot of love, lost and found.
This book shows life in the fifties and sixties, but there are so many parallels with becoming an adult now. Violet Eyes is a great read, full of action and people who stay in the mind. Elaine Ramsay is an accomplished story-teller, and this book is well worth the read.