THE VIOLETS OF MARCH is my second Sarah Jio novel, although it was actually her debut. The first one I read, BLACKBERRY WINTER, completely won me over so it wasn't a hard decision to read this one next.
About the Book:
After having a such a successful life in her twenties, both professionally and personally, now in her thirties Emily has found herself in a much different place. Her career as a best-selling author seems to be at a standstill and her marriage to Jake, the seemingly perfect husband, is now over. Her best friend is worried about her so when Emily's elder great-aunt Bea invites her to Bainbridge Island for a long overdue visit, she encourages Emily to go hoping it will give her some clarity and closure and help her to move forward with her life.
Once she arrives at the Island, many old memories rush to her of summers spent there as a child. She doesn't know why her family stopped going there when she was a teenager and she is met only with silence and evasiveness when she tries to find out.
When she discovers a red velvet diary in the room she is staying in at Bea's house, she is at first reluctant to read it for fear of intruding on someone's privacy, but her curiosity gets the better of her and she begins to read. The diary is dated 1943 and although the names are different, the people are amazingly familiar to her. It is impossible for her to stop reading, especially when the person who left it for her urges her to read it completely.
Emily settles into life on the island and runs into people from her past life that she hasn't seen in years. Though she feels excited and surprised, it is also a bit overwhelming. When she meets Jack, the grandson of a neighbor who lives down the beach, Emily is overcome with confusion. Why does she feel she is betraying a marriage that is already broken?
Eventually, the diary takes on a life of its own and the lines between Emily's life and the diary are blurred and impossible to separate. The secrets of her family's past, and the story written in the diary are heading right into Emily's life and she rushes to figure it all out so that she can make the decisions for her own future.
There are a couple things right off the bat that I liked about this book even before I read it: The beautiful cover! The story within a story concept and the location of Bainbridge Island, near Seattle. As a Seattlean, Jio incorporates so much of the city into her books that it actually becomes a its own character. She is turning me into a Seattle-lover! I would love to visit there one day to see for myself how beautiful it is.
As for the book, I really liked Emily right away. All of the characters were original and very believable to me. Bea was a prickly character but I liked her and it was obvious she only wanted the best for Emily. In my opinion, the story-telling in this debut was done well and kept moving at a good pace that kept my attention and even had me guessing. The diary story was fascinating and I liked the way Jio weaved it into the present. It felt like I was in the room with Emily as she read it. I love stories taking place during that era so its easy for me to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed THE VIOLETS OF MARCH. My only problem is to figure out which Sarah Jio book to read next.
THE VIOLETS OF MARCH
Author: Sarah Jio
Published: April 2011
Length: 304 pp