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The Violets of March by Sarah Jio


First thing to say is, what a beautiful cover title. It is close to love at first sight for the book and me. Only two things can happen thereafter; we'll engage together in a reading bliss or drift away with a hesitant goodbye.

After a divorce, Emily is spending the days in her Aunt Bee's home in an island off Seattle for some healing. She met old acquaintances, walked to the beach, and discovered an anonymous diary which may be the key to some secrets long buried on this settled island life.

It is a first book from Sarah Jio that I read. Somehow, it gave off echoes of sorts of Kate Morton, more so with the one I read recently, though not as moody as the latter. Jio can hold her reins just fine albeit with less subtlety.

Details of island life and readings of the secret diary hold the strongest appeal in the story. The house of Aunt Bee, with the surf right out front, is a little dream. Even the cottages that dotted along the beach, homes which Emily visited, are quaint on their own. One may not help noticing the contrivances, the disbelief in the obvious parallel, but it is quite easier if one just lets herself go with the flow.

For the rest, its course is pretty middling, missing a display of depth and little exploration. Some scenes happened way too fast, some characters remained as is despite the passage of time, without taking leaps to change. I feel this is probably why the story itself couldn't move forward towards a hopeful enlightenment, that the emotions stirred up in me was not in the plight of the characters as much as the direction of the story.

Still, it is a nice beach read. There's a handful of moments when it tugged at me. I am also curious to read Jio's other books nevertheless. I part with the book with a hesitant goodbye, drifting away with daydreams of a charmed island life, orcas canoodling by the shore, boat rides and secret coves.

Summary:

A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

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 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.

Title: The Violets of March
Author: Sarah Jio
Genre:  Romance, Women Fiction, Mystery
Published: 2011
Publisher: Plume
Rating: ♨ 1/2 (2 and a half cups - A beach read, not too light not too dark. Little frustration and wanting aside on the plot, the island life and the mystery will draw you enough.)

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