Title: The Violets of March
Author: Sarah Jio
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
After Emily Wilson’s marriage falls apart, she has nothing to fall back on. After all, though she was once a best-selling author, she hasn’t been able to write a second novel in nearly a decade. She needs to get away, to heal from the blows life has dealt her, and the perfect opportunity comes from her great aunt Bee, who lives on Bainbridge Island. But what Emily doesn’t expect is that a mystery will present itself once she arrives and she will have to dig up the secrets of her aunt’s past in order to understand.
The Violets of March is a wonderful little book about a woman escaping for a time to heal from all those hurts that come with a stalled career and a failed marriage. Emily is broken when the novel begins. She can’t understand how things went so wrong, when ten years ago she was on top of the world. She is a sympathetic and appealing character, and it’s wonderful to see her put herself back together as she throws herself into solving the decades-old mystery of the diary she finds in her aunt’s house.
The dual storylines are handled well by Jio; she has that crucial ability to understand exactly when these time jumps should take place and how much she should reveal. As a result, the reader is kept in suspense by both storylines. I never found myself wishing I was reading a different storyline, which happens all too often in novels such as this. As the story from the past begins to come together, it becomes clear where the story is going, though Jio does throw a few twists and surprises in for good measure.
The place where The Violets of March really excels is in its descriptions. Jio makes the reader feel like they are on Bainbridge Island, walking barefoot on the beach, wiggling their toes in the warm sand. Though I have never visited this island, I can picture it clearly in my mind from Jio’s lush descriptions. She creates a wonderful sense of place, complete with a somewhat eccentric yet lovable cast of characters, and it makes this book immensely appealing.
I did have a few minor quibbles with The Violets of March, first, that the diary wasn’t really believable as an actual diary a person would write, but instead seemed like someone’s attempt at a novelization. Additionally, Emily’s journey back into love seemed much too fast for me, especially considering she was only on the island for one month. Still, despite these issues, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. This is one of those books that presents a wonderful escape and you’ll want to read it in one sitting.