Okay, where to start? This is a lovely debut novel by Sarah Jio, and one of the poll winners for June’s read. I really enjoyed it.
The Violets of March centers on Emily. An author with a severe case of writer’s block and now newly divorced, Emily decides to spend some time healing at her great-aunt Bee’s house on Bainbridge Island, WA. As she uses the peace and sound of the sea to clear her mind, she stumbles upon a secret diary from 1943. The diary tells the story of Esther, and Emily is sucked into the story as she notices more similarities between the diary and her own life. I really can’t say much about Esther’s story, because I don’t want to spoil anything.
There were so many things I liked about this novel. I loved the double story-line; while getting to know Emily, I also got to read Esther’s story. And I have to say that the writing is beautiful and mystery of the plot stays with you even when you put the book down. I love books that take place on cozy islands, and this is no different. The sounds of the sea, the descriptions of gardens, of friendly neighbors and small local shops… it’s all so idyllic.
Emily is a great main character. Besides her being sweet and honest with herself, I noticed that she’s also a foodie – the book goes into detail about food when mentioned, and Emily always admits to unabashedly digging in. It’s such a small detail, but I really liked that about her. I really liked the secondary characters too – when I’m a little old lady, I want to be spunky like Bee and her friend Evelyn.
The only thing about this novel that I wasn’t crazy about was Emily’s romantic interests. Once on Bainbridge Island, she’s asked out a bit and I never really warmed up to the man that she found herself attracted to. And while I really like a bit of romance in books (I’m a sap), Emily did just get divorced before she comes to the island. It all happened a bit too fast for my taste.
Anyways, this is a great novel and probably perfect for some pretty, mysterious beach-reading. I’m really glad that it’s one of the novels that won the June poll
Sarah Says: 4 stars