Title: The Last Camellia
Author: Sarah Jio
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Genre: Historical Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5
Flora is an American woman who has told her parents she’s moving to England to work as a botanist. But she’s not being truthful: she’s actually been hired to find and steal the Middlebury Pink, a rare camellia rumored to be on an English country estate. Over fifty years later, Addison decides that she and her husband, Rex, should spend some time in the manor his parents recently bought in the English countryside. But what Addison hasn’t told Rex is that there are ghosts in her past that have come back to haunt her, and that even England might not be far enough for her to run.
The Last Camellia is an enjoyable novel with a gothic feel, told during two different time periods. Sometimes the novel seems overly simple and rushed, but readers will enjoy getting to know these women and the atmosphere that author Jio creates for her fourth novel.
Sarah Jio has become an expert at writing novels with two different, but related, storylines: past and present. While this literary technique may seem simple, it’s actually quite difficult to accomplish well. All too often, one storyline is intriguing, while the other drags. It’s hard to make both seem equally urgent and relevant, with sympathetic and interesting characters, yet Jio makes it seem effortless. She uses the narrative device to great effect in The Last Camellia.
One of the main storylines of The Last Camellia is that of the flower. It’s always nice to learn something while also being entertained, and Jio does it well. The storyline in the past focuses more on the Middlebury Pink than that of the present, and readers will enjoy the information about camellias while also getting to know Flora. She’s an easy woman to like, and the mystery of what happens to her, and Addison in the present, are enough to keep the readers in suspense.
At times, plot turns seem a little rushed or convenient, but overall, The Last Camellia is a light, easy read that fans of women’s fiction and suspense will most certainly enjoy. If you’re a fan of gothic mysteries, you will likely appreciate the thick atmosphere that Jio creates for this novel. Sarah Jio is a prolific writer; her novels are always reliably entertaining, and it will be interesting to see what topic she tackles next.
Other books by Sarah Jio: