Friday, November 7, 2014

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio


Emily has just been through a divorce. Her husband cheated and moved in with another woman. Emily is devastated. She thinks about her life before she met Joel. She misses her Aunt Bee who lives on Bainbridge Island. She calls Aunt Bee. Bee tells her to come and stay for a month and recuperate.
Emily cannot believe that she has been away from the island for ten years. She loves it there.
She gets asked on two dates by two different men on her second day. Greg is an old boyfriend and Jake is new to the island.
Emily finds a journal written in the 1940's by a woman named Esther. Who is she? Emily learns of Esther's love for a man named Elliot. But she ended up married to Bobby and had a little girl with him. Elliot came home from WWII and he and Esther made love. She got pregnant - she managed to keep it a secret. But a neighbor, Janice, told Bobby. He kicked Esther out. She wasn't seen again.
Emily knows that her aunt knows who Esther is but won't tell her. Will she find out the truth? Will Emily find love again?

I loved this book. When Emily was reading the journal, you really felt what Esther was going through. Then when you found out the truth, you could see how is affected everyone and how it changed them.

From the author:
In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: She had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after. Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily’s good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life. A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.

Excerpt:
“I guess this is it,” Joel said, leaning into the doorway of our apartment. His eyes darted as if he was trying to memorize every detail of the turn-of-the-century New York two-story, the one we’d bought together five years ago and renovated—in happier times. It was a sight: the entryway with its delicate arch, the old mantel we’d found at an antique store in Connecticut and carted home like treasure, and the richness of the dining room walls. We’d agonized about the paint color but finally settled on Morocco Red, a shade that was both wistful and jarring, a little like our marriage. Once it was on the walls, he thought it was too orange. I thought it was just right.

Our eyes met for a second, but I quickly looked down at the dispenser in my hands and robotically pried off the last piece of packing tape, hastily plastering it on the final box of Joel’s belongings that he’d come over that morning to retrieve. “Wait,” I said, recalling a fleck of a blue leather-bound hardback I’d seen in the now-sealed box. I looked up at him accusatorily. “Did you take my copy of Years of Grace?”

I had read the novel on our honeymoon in Tahiti six years prior, though it wasn’t the memory of our trip I wanted to eulogize with its tattered pages. Looking back, I’ll never know how the 1931 Pulitzer Prize winner by the late Margaret Ayer Barnes ended up in a dusty stack of complimentary books in the resort’s lobby, but as I pulled it out of the bin and cracked open its brittle spine, I felt my heart contract with a deep familiarity that I could not explain. The moving story told in its pages, of love and loss and acceptance, of secret passions and the weight of private thoughts, forever changed the way I viewed my own writing. It may have even been the reason why I stopped writing. Joel had never read the book, and I was glad of it. It was too intimate to share. It read to me like the pages of my unwritten diary.

Joel watched as I peeled the tape back and opened the box, digging around until I found the old novel. When I did I let out a sigh of emotional exhaustion.

“Sorry,” he said awkwardly. “I didn’t realize you—”

He didn’t realize a lot of things about me. I grasped the book tightly, then nodded and re-taped the box. “I guess that’s everything,” I said, standing up.

He glanced cautiously toward me, and I returned his gaze this time. For another few hours, at least until I signed the divorce papers later that afternoon, he would still be my husband. Yet it was difficult to look into those dark brown eyes knowing that the man I had married was leaving me, for someone else. How did we get here?

The scene of our demise played out in my mind like a tragic movie, the way it had a million times since we’d been separated. It opened on a rainy Monday morning in November. I was making scrambled eggs smothered in Tabasco, his favorite, when he told me about Stephanie. The way she made him laugh. The way she understood him. The way they connected. I pictured the image of two Lego pieces fusing together, and I shuddered. It’s funny; when I think back to that morning, I can actually smell burned eggs and Tabasco. Had I known that this is what the end of my marriage would smell like, I would have made pancakes.
To read more, click here.

Pages: 296
Published: 2011

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