At one point in her life, Emily Wilson had everything she wanted: a bestselling novel, a handsome and wonderful husband, a bright outlook on her future. Ten years later, however, things have changed. While her novel was successful, it didn’t come from her heart. Her agent is pressing her for another book but the words simply aren’t coming. To make things worse, Emily and her “perfect” husband have filed for divorce. Everything that was important to her seems to be crumbling away.
When Emily’s great-aunt Bee invites her to spend a month with her on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily readily agrees. The beach has always been a source of comfort and reprieve for her. The calming setting would be the perfect location for her to start researching her next book.
Shortly after she arrives on the island, Emily discoveres a red velvet diary in nightstand of the guest room. The diary belongs to Esther, who details life on the island in 1943. Emily starts reading it, instantly realizing the author of the diary has ties to her and her family. Her family has always had its secrets; her mother & aunt have a strained relationship to say the least. It becomes Emily’s mission to uncover the secrets kept hidden for so long, and in doing so, reveals a bit about herself and her own hopes and dreams. She soon releazes it is her destiny to share the life described in this journal, to write the words the world was meant to read. Ultimately, the words revealed not only heal Emily, but other members of her family as well.
The Violets of March is a beautiful & stunning debut novel. Jio accomlishes the oftentimes difficult task of multiple storylines, in this case Emily and the reader are taken back in time via the text within the red diary. Jio taskes on this task with masterly talent that typically is only achieved through years of writing, yet Jio is able to do it in her first book.
The characters are very detailed and and complex; I fell for each of them individually within a matter of pages. It’s impossible to read this book and not feel sympathy for Emily. She’s tried so hard to lead a happy and perfect life that she’s forgotten what is most important in life: one’s own personal happiness. I rooted for her and the various opportunities at love made available to her, despite the fact that I’m not really a fan of romance in fiction. When she uncovered the diary, I was just as anxious as she was to learn more about the owner & the stories revealed in the text.
Aunt Bee? Who couldn’t love her? She’s strong in mind & spirit, never afraid to say just what she’s thinking. While she holds tight on to secrets that have been hidden for several decades, she’s prepared to reveal them to Emily when she feels the time is right (and it can no longer be avoided!)
The island itself is a character as well. Jio describes it so vividly that I can hear the tide rolling in, smell the sea water. She describes the feeling of sand between one’s toes, making me wish I was on the beach alongside Emily.
Bottom line: I can’t recommend this book enough. Family secret, second chances at life, love, mystery….The Violets of March literally has it all. It’s a book you will want to give to all the woman in your life: sister, mother, friend. I’m dying to read more from this incredibly talented author. Highly, highly recommended.