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Blackberry Winter: A Novel Paperback – September 25, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; 1 Original edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452298385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452298385
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (437 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sarah Jio's writing is exquisite and engrossing."--Elin Hilderbrand, bestselling author of Silver Girl

"A Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2012" ... "This novel will enchant Jio's fans and make them clamor for her next offering."--Kirkus

"Terrific ... compelling ... An intoxicating blend of mystery, history and romance, this book is hard to put down."--REAL SIMPLE

"Engaging ... enticing ... [A] fascinating exploration of love, loss, scandal, and redemption."--Publisher's Weekly

Praise for Sarah Jio and her novels:
 
“Jio has become one of the most-read women in America.” —Woman’s World (on Morning Glory)
 
“Delightful and uplifting.” –Historical Novel Society (on Goodnight June)
 
“Linger[s] long after the last page.” –Romantic Times (on The Last Camellia)
                                                                                                                                                    
Eminently readable . . . a tribute to family and forgiveness.” --Booklist (on Goodnight June)
 
“Terrific … compelling … an intoxicating blend of mystery, history and romance.” –Real Simple (on Blackberry Winter)




Praise for The Bungalow
Pulpwood Queens Book Club, Official Selection 2012
“A heartfelt, engaging love story set against the fascinating backdrop of the War in the Pacific.” - Kristin Hannah, author of Home Front
“Unabashedly romantic . . . thanks to Jio’s deft handling of her plot and characters. Fans of Nicholas Sparks will enjoy this gentle historical love story.” - Library Journal

From the Author

Dear Reader,

One morning, while in the car with my husband and our young sons, an intriguing song came on the radio. I had never heard it before, but I was instantly transfixed by the melody, and the singer's haunting voice. I turned to my husband, who was driving: "This is a beautiful song!" I exclaimed. "Do you know it?" He shook his head. I glanced at the radio, and the screen read, "Blackberry Winter by Hilary Kole." The title made my heart flutter. As a lifelong Northwesterner, blackberries are special to me. I get nostalgic when I think about the after-dinner walks I took with my parents and siblings during the summers of my childhood. We'd all take bowls and tromp through the woods near our home, scouting for blackberries. My sister and I would eat the majority of them, and the rest would find their way into one of mom's famous pies or cobblers. Summer just wasn't summer without berry-stained fingers.
 
That day in the car, I pulled out my phone (which, ahem, happens to be a Blackberry), and emailed myself the name of the song and its artist. I wanted to read the lyrics, but mostly, I wanted to know the origins of the title. What is a blackberry winter? Later, at home, I sat down at my desk to do some research. I learned that the term is old-fashioned weather jargon for a late-season cold snap--think of plunging temperatures and snowfall in May, just when the delicate white flowers are beginning to appear on the blackberry vines.
 
I couldn't get the words "blackberry winter" out of my head, and that night, I began to sketch out the concept for this novel. The story came to me quickly and vividly: Vera and Daniel and the little apartment they shared in the 1930s; his beloved teddy bear, lying face-down in the cold snow; Claire and her curious reporter's mind and her own deep pain and grief; snowflakes falling on the spring cherry blossoms.
 
For the next many months, I lived and breathed Blackberry Winter. At the heart of this story, for me, were the raw emotions of motherhood. I began writing the novel when I was pregnant with my third son, and I channeled Vera and Claire's pain and often-heartbreaking experiences. I thought a lot about how it would feel to lose a child, and what I would do.

Then, in a heartbreaking turn of events, shortly before I finished the book, one of my dearest friends, Wendi Parriera, lost her two-year-old son to a rare form of brain cancer. It broke my heart to watch her say goodbye to her precious boy, and I wept with her on the phone as she held her son against her chest in the final hours of his life. But, I also saw her strength, and the light in her eye--the one that told me how thankful she is to have been the mother of this beautiful child, and how excited she is to know, with certainty, that she'll be seeing him again, in heaven. Wendi reminds me, always, that motherhood--life--no matter how short, is a gift.
 
While my characters' challenges are great and their stories tragic, like my dear friend, I like to think that they found their own sense of peace and truth--swirling in a late-season snowstorm and hidden amongst the protective thorns of the blackberry vines.
 
Thank you for reading. I hope this novel touches your heart in the same way it touched mine.
 
Sarah Jio

More About the Author

Sarah Jio is the international, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of THE VIOLETS OF MARCH (a Library Journal Best Book of 2011 and a USA Today bestseller), THE BUNGALOW, BLACKBERRY WINTER (an instant New York Times and USA Today bestseller, as well as an international bestseller), THE LAST CAMELLIA (a Kirkus Books Most Anticipated Book of 2012), MORNING GLORY, and GOODNIGHT JUNE (to be published in June 2014)--all from Penguin (Plume). To date, Sarah's novels are published in 24 countries, including Italy, France, Brazil, Turkey (where two of Sarah's books have become nationwide bestsellers), Slovenia, Russia, China, Norway, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, and many others.

A magazine writer and the former founding health and fitness blogger for Glamour magazine, Sarah has written thousands of articles and blog posts for national magazines including Redbook, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Fitness, Marie Claire, Hallmark magazine, Seventeen, BRIDES, Health, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, The Seattle Times, Parents, Woman's Day, American Baby, Parenting, and many others. She has also appeared as a commentator on NPR's Morning Edition.

Sarah recently finished her seventh novel and is at work on her next. She lives in Seattle and is the mother of three young sons.

The slightly more informal bio:

1978-1983: The blissful childhood years. Pigtails. French braids. Bunny rabbits. Warm, chocolate chip cookies. Blackberry picking. Saltwater sandals. Magical Christmases. Trips to Disneyland. Dress up. Swingsets. Bossing around younger siblings. Slip 'n Slides and kiddie pools. Shenanigans.

1983-1988: The jelly bracelet and Keds years. Wrote first book, titled "A Tug Boat's Dream." Leggings with long sweaters and belts. Hypercolor T-shirts. Pink boom boxes. Monarch butterflies. Norwegian dancing. Sleepovers. Cabbage Patch dolls. Lisa Frank stickers. Rollerskating at the rink. Little House on the Prairie. Experimental hairstyles, including feathered bangs and the poodle perm. Best friend moves away. Wishing on stars. First crushes. All details recorded in diary, read by little brother.

1988-1993: The hair-flipping years. Boys. Gap sale rack. Junior high angst. Rollerblading. Tennis. More bad hair. Survive California earthquake. Find a message in a bottle. Ate a lot of fettuccine alfredo. Move into new house. Babysitters Club. Italian sodas at the mall.

1993-1996: The band groupie years. Mohawked boyfriend. Broken heart. Cut hair to a short pixie and dye platinum blond. Church camps. Boys. Private school. Grounded. Tennis. Mexico. Debate team. Green 1969 Volkswagen Beetle. Grounded. Nancy Drew. Safeway. Banana Boat suntan lotion. Starbucks. Daydreaming.

1996-2000: The college years. Journalism. Character-building. Deadlines. Expeditions to Canada. Three part-time jobs. Date football player, Calvin Klein underwear model. Summers in Alaska. First apartment in Seattle. IKEA. Stan Getz. Soul searching.

2000-2005: The busy years. Get married (finish a magazine deadline the night before wedding). Honeymoon in Tahiti. Buy house. Remodel house. Become fanatical about gardening. Become doggie mama to Paisley the golden retriever who digs up prized garden. Go to a cooking class in Provence and spend two nights solo in Paris. Write a zillion magazine articles. Open a bottle of champagne when I see my name in O, The Oprah Magazine. Write first book. Do not sell first book (blessing in disguise). Beloved grandfather dies. Baby fever. Nesting.

2005-2013: The babies and books years. Buy another house. Remodel kitchen. Wash dishes in bathtub. Became a regular contributor to Glamour. First baby born. Colic. No sleep. Crying. Organic baby food. Balance. Magazines deadlines. Second baby arrives. Write new novel. Beloved grandma dies. Sign with literary agent. Sell novel at auction in U.S., and later in 14 countries. Sell second novel. Third baby arrives. Level of chaos in home explodes. Sign with film agent. Interview Gwyneth Paltrow (on the phone, while nursing a baby), Maya Angelou, and others. Sell third and fourth novels. Go on book tour. With a baby. Three boys under the age of six. Drink a lot of coffee, and sometimes wine. Buy new house. Dream of huge refrigerator and office with doors that lock. Write fifth novel, sixth and seventh. Take boys to Disneyland. Long runs. Big dreams. Health. New chapters. Grateful.

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Customer Reviews

The story is just a little too contrived and predictable.
Tech Director
Great story...loved the characters...well written.....very emotional....this is the second book of hers that I've read and can't wait to read her next.
maryk
I had read half the book in one sitting and then didn't want to pick it up again until I could finish it all at once!!!
mamareadssomuch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Laura Kay on September 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
A crazy snowstorm blankets Seattle in May, but it's not the first time. A fluke snowstorm fell in May of 1933 too and the editor of The Herald wants Claire Aldridge to write a feature article about the May storms--about Blackberry Winter.

During Claire's research of the storm of '33, she finds a newspaper article about Vera and her three year old son who went missing. Vera was a young maid at a high end hotel and had left her son home alone at night while she worked. Authorities believed her three year old, Daniel, ran away during the snowstorm. Claire doesn't believe it for a minute and wonders what happened to Daniel? Were mother and son ever reunited?

Claire's own life is in shambles, but this story seems to ignite a fire in her she thought was gone. Can she solve the mystery? Can there be a happily ever after? Can Claire find her way again?
Once again Sarah Jio proves she has the amazing ability to transport her readers into not one, but two stories in two different times.

I fell in love with poor Vera. A young mother alone in the world struggling to make ends meet. As I read along, I was cheering Claire on wanting her to hurry and solve the mystery of Daniel. I wanted a happy reunion! It wasn't just me who wanted the mystery solved, but it was as if Mother Nature herself was demanding resolution with the return of the Blackberry Winter.

Claire too has suffered a devastating loss. Her marriage is on the brink. For the first time in a long while, Emily begins to come alive but it just might be too late for her old life.
If you read Sarah's first book The Violets of March, you'll be as thrilled as I was to learn Emily and Jackson make an appearance in Blackberry Winter.

While reading, I had numerous "goosebump" moments! Love those.
Read more ›
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer L. Vido VINE VOICE on September 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a reporter for the Seattle Herald, Claire Aldridge will stop at nothing in order to get the job done. Now if only she could figure out how to make use of that tenacity to resolve the issues in her marriage. Married to Ethan Kensington, the managing editor of the newspaper, their relationship is more than just a union between two lovers. It's a balancing act between business and pleasure which has become a very challenging situation for both to handle.

Back in 1933, single mom Vera Ray experiences many of the same insecurities in her personal relationships as Claire. Rearing a three-year-old boy during the Great Depression is harrowing, especially having to leave him alone while working the nightshift at a grand hotel. One evening in May, an unforeseen late-season snow storm blankets the city. Upon Vera's return from work, she discovers her son Daniel is missing.

May 2011, an unseasonal winter storm hits Seattle and Claire has been assigned to cover this "blackberry winter" phenomenon. Thankful for the diversion from her personal woes, Claire jumps in focusing her energy on this amazing topic. While researching the piece, the story of Daniel Ray's unsolved abduction comes across Claire's desk. Feeling a mysterious connection to Vera Ray, she vows to find the truth behind baby Daniel's disappearance.

Blackberry Winter is the third novel by the superbly talented writer Sarah Jio. Her gift of adeptly connecting the past with the present to create such a poignant story sets her apart as a truly noteworthy author. By sharing her own personal story in the Author's Notes, divulging to her readers the meaning of "Blackberry Winter," she forges an everlasting bond between her tale and this uncommon weather event. Just like the rarity of a spring snow storm, a novel such as this only comes along once in a lifetime.
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88 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Rachel N De For on October 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I downloaded this novel to my Kindle after a recommendation in a magazine (can't recall which) sparked my interest. I love a good flip-flop back and forth in time mystery novel. As a mother, I was drawn to the story of the disappearance of a little boy in the 1930s and the present-day reporter who would solve the case. LOVE this idea, but this novel was so disgustingly predictable that I quit reading it. I have probably thrown down maybe 10 books over the years that I refuse to read any further (and I have read a lot of books), this was one of them. The storyline could have been used to the full advantage, but it's not. It's trite and overused and formulaic and just unbelievable as the "mysterious" pieces keep falling into place. The reporter just seems to get every clue handed to her, she hardly has to dig. She just turns up for coffee at the place where the boy and his mother lived in the 1930s. She happens upon clues so easily, there's no mystery, no suspense. If you're a heavy reader, you'll see through this one in no time flat. Disappointing.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By booklover343 on October 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
When I first read the plot description on this book, I felt it sounded like a good read. I'm not familiar with the author, but I gave it a shot. Honestly, it was too contrived to be at all believeable. the plot would go along and then another coincidence...then another...then another. It really felt too fake for my taste.

I really thought tying a current early May storm in Seattle to a storm almost 100 years ago to the day was a very interesting plot. But then the coincidences start and the contrived events, misunderstandings, characters who are adults but act more like teens, etc. Don't these people ever TALK to one another? I know the main couple had a tragedy, but a year later they still don't, won't talk about it.

Couldn't recommend this. I took it with me on a trip and was glad I had other books with me, too.
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