Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: "The Violets of March" by Sarah Jio

There are some books that I just read; I read them because I feel obligated, or because there's been a lot of hype surrounding them, or because someone has recommended it to me as a "must read". When I read these kinds of books there are some that don't grab me and I admit to checking how many pages there are, as in, how many more pages of this do I have to read before I'm done? Then, there are some books that I read. These are the books that I find impossible to put down. These are the books that I am completely engrossed in, that somehow manage to touch a personal chord in me. Sarah Jio's debut novel The Violets of March is a book that I took great pleasure in reading.

The Violets of March tells the story of Emily Wilson. Once upon a time, Emily had it all. She wrote a bestselling book beloved by many, she had a handsome husband, and she had a promising future. Almost ten years later Emily is experiencing a case of writer's block that is threatening to put an end to her writing career and she is going through a divorce from the man who was once her everything. When Emily's great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March with her on Bainbridge Island, the setting for many happy childhood memories, Emily jumps at the chance to give herself some time to heal, and to hopefully start writing again. She's certainly not banking on the fact that she will find a diary from 1943 that raises more questions that it answers, and she's also not counting on the fact that she will find herself in the midst of unraveling a decades-old mystery.

Sarah Jio possesses the ability to really tell a story. I wanted to reach out and hug Emily from the beginning. She seemed so vulnerable and downtrodden, uncertain of what her next steps should be. Most of all she seemed completely unsure of herself and her abilities, something that I think all of us have felt at one time or another. From the very first page I just wanted things to work out okay for her. I was equally enamoured of the story of Esther, the author of the mysterious journal from the 1940's that Emily finds shortly after her arrival on the island. Often when a book had a dual storyline I find myself interested in one of the stories, but less interested in the other. In the case of The Violets of March I felt the need to find out what happened to both of our heroines.

The final pages of Violets moved me, and by that I mean that I was in the dentist's office with my son wiping away tears in the waiting room while people looked at me like I was a crazy lady. I adore a great ending, and Violets definitely had one.

The combination of endearing characters, an interesting plot, and an ending that had me wiping away tears makes debut novelist Sarah Jio's The Violets of March a book not to be missed.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Challenges: 2011 100+ Reading Challenge


  1. i think i'll be reading this one next even though i'll get "emily confusion" because of what i'm reading now. :) and i really think you'll like sarah's key, as it also connects two women in a poignant way.

  2. My second review read today. Thanks for this post.

  3. I've been hearing lots of good things about this book elsewhere too, so I'm sure I'll read it someday soon.

  4. This sounds really great! I'm going to have to check it out!

  5. The cover is beautiful, I'm a sucker for pretty covers.

  6. I don't think I've seen a single negative review of this book. Glad to see you enjoyed it so much. I will definitely keep it in mind.

  7. It's clear that this book really moved you :)
    I know what you mean about feeling that some books are a chore to read; the kind of reading experience you had with this one, makes the others worth it I think.