Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Book Review: "The Violets of March" by Sarah Jio

Summary from BN.com: In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

After a string of mediocre reads, I was so thrilled with this book. It's been in my TBR pile for quite a while and I've been hearing many good things about it. Yet it was only now that I was able to get a chance to finally read it. I'm so glad that I did. I had no idea what I was in for. From the cover and the endorsements, I thought this was going to be a light women's fiction read with some dramatic moments. Instead what I got was a mystery that kept me turning pages.

Emily has just finalized her divorce and heads to her great aunt's house by the sea to get away and recuperate. She is also an author who is currently experiencing a lull in her creativity and is hoping that she might find inspiration while she's there. The relationship between Emily and her aunt is a good one but there are hints from her past that suggest that there is more to Bee's story. During her stay, Emily finds a diary that tells the story of a woman named Esther whose life tale during WWII sucks both her and the reader into what happens.

Once I got to this point, I found myself glued to the pages. Esther's story was so intriguing and full of lost love, sacrifice, misunderstanding and betrayal. Emily tries to find out who this person really was and what happened to her. Asking questions doesn't really get her anywhere so she has to do sleuthing on her own. Meanwhile she also starts to rekindle romances with her high school boyfriend and a new guy she meets at the lake. When Emily does find out the truth, it explains so much about everything that has happened in her life. It's sad and heartbreaking but at the same time it's liberating because the truth is finally out in the open.

Jio has written a wonderful debut novel. Seriously, after all those other books this was like a breath of fresh air. I loved the story and my only qualm was that I wish it had been longer. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, loved the history, sucked in by the mystery and had a grand old time at the lake. I would love to get to know these characters again in the future, even if just for a short visit. If you pick up this book, don't expect to put it down. HIGHLY recommended.

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio is published by Plume (2011)
This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. This has been on my TBR list for awhile too. I plan to start it this week. Like you, I have been wanting to read it, but haven't been able to. Glad to hear it's worth the wait!

  2. Oh thank you so much for this great review. This book has been o my wish list for a while. Now I know its worth reading!

  3. It's always a good sign when you wish a book was longer!

  4. Heeeey! This one sounds right up my alley! Rushing off to Amazon to add it to my list. THanks for the review of it!

  5. I adored this book. I can't wait for the next book by Sarah Jio.

  6. Now I wish I had had the time to review this back in April! I'll definitely be reserving a copy at the library...

  7. Thank you for this lovely review of my novel. I'm so happy that you enjoyed it! Can't wait to send you a copy of my new novel, THE BUNGALOW, out in Dec! xo


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