13 reviews

The Violets of March: A Novel
by Sarah Jio

Published: 2011-04-26
Paperback : 304 pages
24 members reading this now
20 clubs reading this now
23 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 10 of 13 members
A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous 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 ...
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A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous 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.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


Bee. I could picture her immediately at her Bainbridge Island kitchen table. For every day I have known her, she has eaten the same breakfast: sourdough toast with butter and whipped honey. She slices the toasted golden-brown bread into four small squares and places them on a paper towel she has folded in half. A generous smear of softened butter goes on each piece, as thick as frosting on a cupcake, which is then topped by four good-sized dollops of whipped honey. As a child, I watched her do this hundreds of times, and now, when I’m sick, sourdough toast with butter and honey is like medicine. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Emily adores the 1931 novel, Years of Grace, which is revealed early in the book and later shown to have a greater significance in her life. What are the many ways this book is woven into the novel and describe the significance to the characters?
2. Bainbridge Island, where the book is set, is often described by the author as a “character” in its own right in this story. What are some of the most memorable attributes of the island?
3. What are some of the many symbols and themes of healing and forgiveness used in the book?
4. In what ways are Emily and Esther similar, and in what ways are they different?
5. From artists to writers, there are many themes of art in this story—both past and present. What connections can be drawn from the artistic appreciation and sentiments of the characters in the diary and in present day?
6. What lessons does Esther have for Emily about love and about being true to one’s self?

Suggested by Members

The onesprovided were great
by Readnsew (see profile) 04/08/14

feelings toward characters when they were young and as adults.
by mangan319 (see profile) 09/24/11

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from author Sarah Jio:

In writing The Violets of March, I became interested in what we can learn from the past, most notably about love, forgiveness and reconciliation. Setting the story partially in the 1940s was a natural choice for me, as I’ve nursed a lifelong fascination with this decade and its movies, fashion and music.

When the story for this book came to me, it absolutely haunted me until I could get it down on paper—the characters, the island setting, the mystical nature of the wood violets, blooming out of season as a symbol of healing and forgiveness.

In all of it, I hoped to write a book that readers could curl up with and simply enjoy, a story that would make them feel, which is what any good book does, right? It was my hope to write a novel that people would think about long after the last page.

Book Club Recommendations

a lot of characters so a few notes would help keep a timeline
by Readnsew (see profile) 04/08/14
We had a few problems remembering who and when as it was such an easy read.
The Violets of March
by cherylwilliams5 (see profile) 07/25/13
Always simple: salad with natural herb and flowers in it served in wooden bowls. Of course, African Violets in pots as the center piece.
A very laid back session
by dianemjb (see profile) 03/21/13
Serve tea and short bread and scones and if a meal perhaps soups. Have a cozy atmosphere.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Sherri H. (see profile) 12/07/18

by Maryann J. (see profile) 05/31/17

  "The Violets of March"by Linda B. (see profile) 04/08/14

Who can resist family secrets? This book was written in a way that spoke to nearly everyone in our reading Group. It was a fun mystery that led to great discussions.

  "Violets of March"by Lois P. (see profile) 04/08/14

Really enjoyed this book. Good story that was an easy read....didn"t get boring or long

  "Violets of Cheesiness"by Linda K. (see profile) 03/13/14

  "The Violets of March"by Cheryl W. (see profile) 07/25/13

Just the cover calls you to read it.

  "Violets of March"by Diane M. (see profile) 03/21/13

Intriguing and often difficult to follow, suggest keeping a character list. It kept our group going all evening. We ll liked it and had different points to bring up about the situations in the book.

  "The Violets of March"by Crystal N. (see profile) 04/10/12

Great story! This is a good read for anyone who likes loves stories.

  "Violets of March"by Maureen M. (see profile) 03/24/12

What a lovely read! The parallel story lines weave and intertwine beautifully through the skilled and artful words of the talented Sarah Jio. Set in the 40s & present day, this novel has me dreaming about... (read more)

  "Violets of March"by Nancy B. (see profile) 02/02/12

After about 10-15 pages, I was hooked on this book and could not put it down. I love a mystery and especially one that deals with strong emotions and family ties. This is such a captivating story about... (read more)

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