Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

The Violets of March is the debut by Sarah Jio, a talented lady who already has a second novel, The Bungalow, on the way in 2012 and a mysterious third one in the works. Don't let her prolific nature fool you though, this is a well-crafted story with a thoughtful plot, profound characters and a smooth, lyrical writing style. I was instantly intrigued by the storyline of The Violets of March, and began lusting over it as soon as I heard of it. In the book, Emily Wilson is the luckiest girl in the world, ten years later. The author of a bestselling debut she has been unable to follow up, and a handsome husband who has left her, Emily knows it is time for a change. When her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend March on Bainbridge Island, it is just what Emily needs. On the Island, Emily meets a whole new world of people, and discovers a different time when she finds a diary from 1943, telling a story that has shocking connections to her own life.

In the novel, Jio tells two separate, yet connected stories in a way that reminded me slightly of Jennifer McMahon although her style has less of a thriller aspect and the mystery is lighter and more literary in nature as well as description. However, like McMahon, Jio's writing is unpretentious and her story moves along quickly and is easy to read. Still, there is nothing simplistic about The Violets of March, a complex love story with unique characters and an original mystery. This is the kind of book you want to read in one sitting, because you will not be able to think about anything else until you finish the last page (and possibly even longer). It flows easily from the beginning, and it is perfectly paced so that you gain just little details about the characters and their quirks, as well as the luscious setting, without being bogged down. 

Usually, when I review a book I find both positives and negatives about it. I try to give balanced opinions of what worked and what didn't work for me, and although people don't always agree, at least I have shown a little bit of both sides. In this case, the only thing I can say about The Violets of March is that some components of the way it concluded were fairly convenient. That said, the novel itself had a tint of fairytale to it, and there was magic to Bainbridge Island, so just like in a Sarah Addison Allen novel I was willing to let the coincidental outcome sweep me away.

Although this is Jio's debut, her years of journalism and natural talent mean that there is nothing about this book that is amateur. So don't let the month in the title fool you, The Violets of March is a perfect read no matter the day- it'll warm you up in the cold months and offer a cool ocean breeze during the summer. I expect by the time The Bungalow is released next March, my copy of The Violets of March will be well worn from sharing with the many people I know who are certain to love it as well.

Release Date: April 26th, 2011
Pages: 304
: Author

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