Sunday, May 1, 2011

Review: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

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 (summary from back cover).

About Sarah Jio:
Sarah is a veteran magazine writer and the health and fitness blogger for Glamour magazine, a role she’s had for nearly three years. In addition, she is a women’s health contributor to Womansday.comthe web site of Woman’s Day magazine. She has written hundreds of articles for national magazines and top newspapers including Redbook, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Fitness, Marie Claire, Hallmark magazine, Seventeen, The Nest, Health, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, The Seattle Times, Parents, Parenting, and Kiwi. In addition, Sarah is a monthly columnist for American Baby. She has also appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you can probably tell that I'm obsessed with anything set in the WWII era, so I was excited when I was asked to review Sarah Jio's The Violets of March. The book features a mysterious diary written in 1943, and though WWII ended up playing only a minor role in the story, I enjoyed this wonderful novel nonetheless.  

It took me about 50 pages to really get into the story, due mostly to the occasionally awkward writing and metaphors ("' We almost didn't make it home that night,' he said, his eyes like portals into the forgotten memories of my youth.") However, I was soon caught up in the developing love story and the mysteries surrounding the diary that Emily finds. I found Emily to be a admirable character, who learns from her mistakes and has the clarity to listen to the voice inside her. Though she has the tendency to jump to conclusions easily (like the author of the mysterious diary) she also knows herself.

I also enjoyed the gently suspenseful tone of the book and the mystery surrounding the diary. When I thought I had figured out how the pieces all fit together, something happened to change my mind. The ending was thoughtful and bittersweet and I enjoyed seeing all of the loose ends tied up neatly, but not too predictably. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. While it sometimes got bogged down by clunky writing, The Violets of March was a lovely book with a mix of mystery, romance, and likeable characters. I look forward to reading the author's next book, The Bungalow (to be released in spring 2013).

Details: published by Plume, April 2011 

Source: Thanks to Sarah Jio and Plume for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful review! I'm so happy you enjoyed the story! I hope you'll have a chance to read an early copy of my new novel, THE BUNGALOW (also with a WWII theme). It's out in April 2012. xo, Sarah