The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume, an imprint of Penguin
Review copy provided by the author
Novelist Emily Wilson truly thought she had a perfect marriage until her husband of over a decade decides to leave her for another woman. Stunned, Emily heads to her aunt Bee’s home on Bainbridge Island, Washington to recover and reevaluate her life. One night, when Emily has difficulty falling asleep, she finds a red journal in the nightstand next to her bed and can’t resist reading for a few pages. What she discovers in the journal is the story of a woman from the 1940’s that seems to have real connections to Emily’s life. Emily is determined to find out these connections, and in the process she begins to put her own life back together.
The Violets of March is the type of book that had me at hello. Truly, I was about twenty pages in when I realized how much I enjoyed Emily and I gobbled up her story as quickly as I possibly could. There are so many things to love about this novel that I don’t know where to start!
I truly enjoyed Emily as a character. I really felt for her – she was completely surprised by her husband’s actions and she had to do something drastic with her life in order to get some perspective. I liked all the characters in the book, actually – Aunt Bee is a fabulously fun older lady as is her friend Evelyn, and Emily meets two guys her first week at the island, both of whom add fabulous details to the story. I always like a little romance in my fiction, you know! Emily is truly the star of the novel as she tries to put her life back together while spending time on the island, but I enjoyed getting to know each and every one of the characters.
The island itself is a character in a sense. Sarah Jio did such a great job depicting what life on Bainbridge Island is like – I could smell the salty air, could see the ferry as it pulled in to the island, and I could feel the sand between my toes as Emily walked along the beach. When I visited Seattle several years back I absolutely fell in love with it, and Sarah Jio has made me want to visit some of the surrounding islands. She definitely brought Bainbridge Island to life.
I have to admit that I enjoyed reading the story in the red diary almost as much as the book itself! This technique of a “story within a story” is one that I’m not always a fan of, but in this case it worked beautifully. I was just as compelled with Esther’s story (the woman in the diary) as I was with Emily’s, if not more so! I was completely anxious to find out the connections between their lives and I was just as sucked into Esther’s life as Emily was.
Overall, I enjoyed The Violets of March immensely. I loved the characters, the setting, the story itself, basically everything! Highly recommended.