Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Violets of March, Sarah Jio

One of the recurring themes in literature is the way that the past can come back to haunt us.  Things that happened long ago can reverberate through our lives and our families until they touch us, without us even knowing.  Secrets long held can be devastating when revealed-or they can lead to redemption, closure, and the ability to move forward in life.  All of these ideas are explored in The Violets of March, a novel by Sarah Jio coming out in April.

Emily Watson thought she had it all.  A best selling book, a handsome husband, a glamorous life in New York.  Then the writer's block set in, her husband had an affair, and her fabulous social life dwindled as her fame fell.  Ten years later, on the day her divorce becomes final, she accepts an invitation from her Aunt Bee to visit her on Bainbridge Island, where Emily spent many happy summers as a child.  There, Emily reconnects with an old boyfriend, Greg, and meets Jack, who her aunt warns her away from.  She also find a red velvet diary, and gets drawn into a tragic mystery that happened fifty years earlier.  She soon comes to believe that the diary is connected to her in some way, and that she was fated to find it and bring her family's secrets out into the light at last.

I love books about islands.  I have always wanted to live on an island-to be that close to the sea, to be a part of a close knit community just seems idyllic to me.  I was immediately drawn by Jio's description of the island, and the way that the sea matched what was happening in the story at the time.  I was also immediately drawn in by the mystery.  Whose diary had Emily found?  Why was her aunt so tight-lipped about it?  And why was she supposed to stay away from the gorgeous and interesting Jack?  Emily finds that she cannot complete her own healing process, or move forward in her own life, until she uncovers the mystery around the women in her family.  She also finds that she cannot go back to her old life in New York with thoughts of Jack in her head.  The Violets of March is an imminently readable, thoroughly enjoyable book about love, family, and moving foward.

(Thank you to Penguin Group USA for the  free review copy)

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