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on April 26, 2011
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.
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VINE VOICEon May 19, 2011
During all the craziness last week, The Violets of March by Sarah Jio was my escape. Instead of laying in the hotel bed worrying about all the mess and stress, I just opened the pages of this book and lost myself in the story.

I must admit that I went to great lengths to get a copy of this book. For some reason when I read an early review and heard that it would be released in May, I just knew I wanted to read it. Perhaps it was because my dear, dear college friend grew up on Bainbridge Island, WA and the island is the setting for this story. Or maybe I was just drawn in by the promise of a buried secret discovered in a long-forgotten diary. I'm a sucker for those kinds of stories.

Emily, the protagonist, is a gorgeous and best-selling author who is suffering from writer's block and her husband just left her for another woman. Hoping to heal, she escapes to her great aunt's home on Bainbridge Island. On this beautiful island, Emily discovers the old diary containing a mystery that inspires her to write. And of course, she just might find love again. Ultimately, it is a story of forgiveness.

There's nothing especially new or earth shattering in The Violets of March. It's a typical healing-from-life story with some romance and ancestral mystery on the side. It could have been a little longer. The story would have benefited from more character development. But also, I didn't want it to end because I liked it. I like it a lot.

Jio writes well. It is easy to get wrapped up in Emily's story and the story in the journal. I could barely put the book down until I finished the last sentence. Jio uses the setting to her advantage in building the plot. While Emily's story is rather predictable, Jio is successful at writing enough twists and turns into the story contained in the diary to keep the reader guessing until the end.

The Violets of March is a perfect book for the beach (in spite of the cold and wet, I believe summer is coming), to read on an airplane or at the hotel while you're house is being cleaned up after a flood. If you're going on a trip, grab a copy and throw it in your suitcase. You won't regret it.

Maybe I can talk my college friend into taking a trip with me to Bainbridge Island this summer. I'll just make her read this book. It will probably be more difficult/impossible to convince my husband.

After some mild begging, I received a free copy of this book from the publishers. However, this is my honest review and I have received no compensation.
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on April 26, 2011
The Violets of March is the kind of book that you could share with your best friend, mother or grandmother and know that they'd all love it. Set on scenic Bainbridge Island, Violets is a love story within a mystery and has a whole cast of characters who are flawed enough to be human but so compelling that you'll root for them throughout the book. Jio excels at description; although I've never been to Bainbridge Island, I felt like I was right there with her protagonist, Emily. This was a gorgeous story, and I didn't want it to end.
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on January 4, 2012
I want to start off by saying that I liked this book, but even though I finished it, I wasn't in love with it. I wasn't sad to see it end by any means. I would recommend it to friends, but I'd probably suggest getting it from the library, buying a used copy, or borrowing it from a friend. It is not something that I would have been happy spending full price.

My problem is that I never felt invested in the characters or believed in them. The characters, especially the narrator Emily, are 2D and not very believable. Their actions are very cliched (recovering from a supposedly painful and gut wrenching divorce and finding love again within 2 - 3 weeks). The relationships in the book all seem to be formed instantly and do not feel genuine. I don't expect the characters in books to be exactly like people I know or to have experiences that I am familiar with, but I expect them to be believable. The characters and story in this book were not.

Despite not reall being connected to the characters in the book, I was entertained enough to finish it.
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on March 2, 2012
I finished this book only out of loyalty to my book club. The plot is intriguing, and the setting is beautiful. But the characters are completely bland, and their relationships are superficial. This is a love story that's just going through the motions - love, loss, then finally "true" love. The love portrayed is more like a mutual crush - instant and powerful but with none of the honesty and experience that actually creates a loving relationship.

The book intertwines two love stories set on Bainbridge Island - one present day and one from the 1940s. I wish the book had dropped the main story and focused on the love story from the 40s. The characters from that story were more diverse and brave. And the intensity of their relationships was a little more believable, but perhaps this was only because their story was the mystery pulling the reader along. If that story had been developed more, maybe it would have turned into the same bland cliché as the main character's journey.
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on January 11, 2012
After the first few chapters I was ready to skip pages. Magical details like rare wood violets that appear in gardens when people need "healing" might work for Alice Hoffman, but they don't work here. They float by, perhaps intended to distract from the unbelievable and mostly unlikeable characters who talk about what's "in your heart." A bad book.
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on January 14, 2012
I was looking for a good but little known book for my book club and stumbled upon this. Thank goodness I read it before exposing my fellow readers to one of the sappiest and most poorly written romance novels ever. The writing was atrocious and more suited to a teen novel than adult fiction. The plot was contrived and ridiculously unbelievable. I would have been so embarrassed to suggest this to the club. What a waste of time!
55 comments52 of 62 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 19, 2012
I stopped reading this book before the end, it was that poorly written. I always finish books. Always. But with this one, I just couldn't stomach it. The writing was cliched and trite, and the story line horrendously unbelievable. I found myself scoffing every few pages. I'm severely disappointed. I had this on my wishlist for a while and had stumbled across it in a bookstore. But I wish I hadn't wasted the money on it.
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on June 19, 2011
The number of people who changed their name so that the "mystery" held up was too far reaching to be believable. The number of people who had secrets was simply annoying. The ending was convenient. I was expecting so much more given the reviews and thought I had downloaded a different book once I began reading. The imagary is simplistic and I didn't care about the characters. I finished it and was glad to do so simple to get it over with. I can not recommend this book. There are far better examples of this theme available.
1414 comments33 of 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 4, 2012
This might be the most poorly written novel I've ever read. I guess she thinks all her audience needs is a couple of handsome men who fall all over themselves for her 2D main character. The entire novel prances mindlessly but SOOOO seriously along alternating between improbable coincidences and unbelievable, no REALLY unbelievable plot developments. Throw in pedestrian, stilted dialogue which actually is appropriate for the pedestrian, stilted characters. For a good summer read, NO. There is nothing here to delight, and a lot to deplore. The best news is that it's not very long. But if you prefer your escapist entertainment not to escape basic logic, you will not dig this read.
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