It’s been several months already since I had the extreme pleasure of reading Deb Sarah’s beautiful debut, THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, but I still can’t think about it without heaving a satisfied sigh and smiling.
(Tawna, I know what you’re thinking. Different genre. Though the men Sarah gives us in this book are seriously dreamy…)
Sarah had me hooked very early. Emily, VIOLETS’ main character, is in her apartment having a conversation with a man, and says, “…it was difficult to look in those dark brown eyes knowing the man I married was leaving me, for someone else.”
It’s so simple; yet that matter of fact tone walloped me with the agony of what Emily really felt — the disbelief and torture of losing your whole world. The moment’s impact was so huge for me that I raced to write it down… then the novel got even better from there.
I’ll let the book’s Amazon.com page give you the official summary (and a great spot to buy the book!), but the gist is that with Emily’s life in shatters, she accepts an invitation from her Aunt Bee to visit Bainbridge Island and get away from it all. Though her plan is to figure out her own life, things take a different turn when she finds a journal from the 1940’s. Its pages reveal a love story wrapped in a mystery, and Emily is enthralled. She’s driven to unravel the diary’s secrets, and is stunned both by where the journey takes her, and how much it affects her own personal crossroads.
There are many things I love about Sarah’s book. I love the pitch-perfect interplay between her characters. The relationships of both Emily and her best friend Annabelle, and Aunt Bee and her best friend Evelyn feel absolutely real, and showcase the power of deep bonds between women. I love the ease with which Emily slips back into Aunt Bee’s daily life after so many years, and the way the two often know exactly what the other one needs without it being said. I love how Sarah metes out the journal entries in brilliantly measured portions that leave us partially satisfied… yet as hungry for more as Emily herself.
Yet more than anything, I love the way Sarah brings Bainbridge Island to life.
I’ve never been to Bainbridge Island. I don’t know if its reality is anything like the timeless idyll of Sarah’s book. Despite what I say in the title for this post, I actually don’t think I want to go, because I’m not sure the reality could ever live up to how stunning it is in VIOLETS. I have read few books with a sense of place as strong as this one. Sarah’s Bainbridge Island wraps its visitors like a cozy afghan. As readers, we rediscover the Island along with Emily, and it’s heavenly. This is a place where everyone knows everyone else; where high school lovers’ initials remain carved in trees for generations; and where the best path between two houses is a stroll along the sandy beach. Sure, Bainbridge Island has its journal-locked secrets, but that never takes away from its sense of comfort and peace.
In the book, Sarah talks about the Island “calling to” people. It certainly called to me, and I’m thrilled I get to answer that call again and again, by diving back into the pages of this gorgeous book.
Congratulations on your Debut Week, Sarah!!!! I know great things are ahead for you and VIOLETS, and I’m so happy and excited for you!!!!