Monday, April 25, 2011
The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
Emily Wilson returned to Bainbridge Island when her life fell apart. She had once been a bestselling author, but hadn't been able to write anything for over five years. She loved and married a handsome lawyer, who left her for another woman. When her great-aunt Bee invited her to stay with her on the island, Bee and Emily's friend Annabelle knew Emily needed to heal. And, it was a restful place, until Emily discovered a diary in her bedroom, the story of a doomed romance from the 1940s. Once she immerses herself in that story, Emily will find parallels to her own life, and answers to family questions that have bothered her for years.
The diary told the story of a woman who passionately loved one man, but married another. Despite her marriage, and a baby, she still yearned for the man she had been engaged to, and rejected. And, he still loved her, with a love that called to her, and led to tragedy for so many people on Bainbridge Island. Now, as Emily dates two men, her aunt continues to warn her there may be issues.
Jio's debut is a solid one. The parallel storylines work well to tell stories of assumptions that can doom relationships and lives. And, the reader can only hope Emily will learn from the disastrous events in the diary. But, so much in this story depends on chance encounters and accidental meetings. And, as much as I wanted to love this story, I only liked it. The large cast of characters, in two time frames, became confusing as I tried to guess who people were from the earlier storyline. Emily seems to be a voyeur, peering not only into lives in the past, but also into her own life, viewing it, rather than feeling it. Despite the author's best efforts, Emily appeared to be a researcher, rather than a real person. She just didn't come alive for me. She appeared to be trying to model her life after characters in her favorite book, or the people from the diary.
Saying all that, I'll be eager to read Sarah Jio's second novel. The Violets of March shows promise for an author who can vividly describe a setting, bringing that place to life. And, she did a beautiful job tying the past to the present, with all of the repercussions and relationships. Jio started well, but I have the feeling the future will bring more memorable characters. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this talented author, and those of us who want to read more.
Sarah Jio's website is www.sarahjio.com
The Violets of March by Sarah Jio. Penguin Group (USA). ©2011. ISBN 9780452297036 (paperback), 304p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy, hoping I would review it.