Book Review: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

Title: The Violets of March
Author: Sarah Jio
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Plume
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
First line: “I guess this is it,” Joel said, leaning into the doorway of our apartment.

Reeling from her husband’s infidelity and their subsequent divorce, author Emily Wilson retreats to her Aunt Bee’s home on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound. She is looking to heal – and maybe find her way back into writing. What she finds is a red velvet diary, a family mystery, and a handsome neighbor. The diary was written by a woman named Esther, a woman who first lost her one true love, and then lost much more in trying to reclaim it. As Emily becomes immersed in Esther’s story, she begins to wonder why the diary is in her aunt’s home and what family secrets her aunt is keeping from her.

Reading The Violets of March made me homesick! I grew up in Skagit Valley, in the northwest corner of Washington State, and we used to camp on Puget Sound. I’ve only been on Bainbridge Island once, but Sarah Jio has perfectly captured the setting: the gray, rocky coast; the seaweed, salt-scented air; the sight of a ferry pulling away. I immediately understood why Emily chose her Aunt Bee’s home as a place to go to regroup and rediscover herself.

I like books that have dual storylines, but often I am more drawn into one storyline than the other. That was not the case with The Violets of March. While the very beginning started off a bit slow for me, as soon as Emily arrived on Bainbridge Island, I didn’t want to stop reading. I loved reading more of Esther’s story, trying to piece together who the characters in her story might be in the modern storyline. Her story was heart-breaking, but also demonstrated what pride and stubbornness can do to a relationship. And as much as I enjoyed Esther’s story, I never felt pulled away from it or hesitant to dive back in with Emily and her stoic, yet fiercely loving Aunt Bee; Bee’s best friend, Evelyn; the mysterious Henry; and the enigmatic artist, Jack.

At its heart, The Violets of March is a story of how secrets kept can resonate down through generations, causing ripples that the secret-keepers wouldn’t even begin to imagine. I loved reading as Emily discovered her family’s secrets, and as she discovered a way to move past her own grief.

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24 Responses to Book Review: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

  1. Beth Hoffman says:

    Terrific review, Carrie. I enjoyed this book so much!

  2. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly

    Wow! Great review Carrie! I’m reading this right now and enjoying it.

  3. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    This sounds fantastic and it sounds like Jio got the sense of place perfect!

  4. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    I’ve had this on my list for a while now …. Time to pull it out.

  5. Meghan says:

    I’ve seen this book over and over on blogs recently but I think your review has really sold me that I need to read it. I have definitely been made homesick by books – I think those are the good ones!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Meghan – yes, they are. I’ve even read book that have made me homesick for Ireland (where my heritage is) even though I’ve never been there!

  6. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I always seem to get pulled into the books about running away to heal. Sometimes I think I’d like to run away to heal (Heal from what? Hell I don’t know. Sassy kids? Dirty floors? I just like the idea). I’d definitely head for water. Sounds like a worthy read.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – I like the idea, too! And who says we don’t need to heal from caring for our families? I love doing it, but it does require time to refresh and rejuvenate.

  7. Sarah Jio says:

    Thank you so much for this lovely review, Carrie! It was so beautifully written and captured the essence of my little story so well. I’m honored to be featured on your blog. Thank you for your reading time and good wishes. I can’t wait to get a copy of my next novel, THE BUNGALOW, in your hands. xo

  8. Kathleen says:

    The setting of this one is as intriguing to me as the plot you have described.

  9. Marg
    Twitter: MargReads

    The more I hear about this book, the more I want to read it!

  10. I saw you mentioned stories with dual storylines. What others are out there? Especially one with both a historical and a contemporary storyline. Would love to hear your recommendations. I just read Violets of March and enjoyed it so much!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Marybeth – I’m glad you enjoyed Violets of March. The other books with dual storylines that popped into my head are The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen, Sarah’s Key by Tatina de Rosnay, Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd, Embrace Me by Lisa Samson, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop, and On Folly Beach by Karen White. Happy Reading!

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