The Violets of March

Ryan and I are taking a stand against putting on the heat in our house.

Since the thermostat told me it was 63 degrees inside late this morning, I decided to get dressed in some real clothes and strip off the multiple layers of pajamas and the robe that I was wearing (yes, I’m a baby in the cold) and headed out to Starbucks to take advantage of their heat and free wifi to get some work done.

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Ryan joined me there in the early afternoon for some hot drinks!

Grande peppermint mocha for me, chai tea latte for him.

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Love the quarter-zip sweater look. Smile

Lunch

Before heading to Starbucks, I ate leftovers of last night’s homemade chicken soup and a piece of cheese toast (which also happened to be my morning snack).

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Since we had some veggies on the verge of death and lots of chicken broth on hand (buy one get one free boxes at Publix!), chicken soup sounded like the perfect dinner last night. It also made a great belly-warming lunch this afternoon.

Last night I combined the following in a big pot:

  • 1 pound chicken tenders, chopped
  • 1 large box reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • Leftover boiled collard greens from our New Year’s Day dinner (added at the very end)

I let everything simmer for about 30 minutes and then we dug in!

I meant to add noodles, but in the end the soup was already so full of veggies and chicken that noodles seemed like they would overwhelm the soup. It was delicious without ‘em!

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And now it’s time for some book club discussion!

As always, please feel free to post your book reviews in the comments section. Discussion questions for the book are noted at the end of the post!

The Violets of March

The December PBF book club selection was The Violets of March, a book I wasn’t sure would be exactly my style until I began reading it and got completely sucked in!

violets of march

The book follows Emily Wilson, a recently divorced young woman whose married unexpectedly ends following her husband’s infidelity. In need of clarity and some time to think and breathe, Emily books a flight to visit her Aunt Bee to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington.

While there, Emily begins reading a diary written much like a novel from the 1940s that she finds in the nightstand of one of the guest rooms in her aunt’s house. She becomes completely immersed in the story of Esther and her complicated and tumultuous love life, noticing parallels between Esther’s story and the things going on around her on the island. Emily finds herself constantly wondering how Esther’s life intertwines with her own.

It was Esther’s story that sucked me into The Violets of March. Esther’s diary kept me glued to the pages of the book and added mystery and intrigue to the novel. I couldn’t wait to read about what would happen between Esther and the true love of her life, Elliot, and what would happen to her marriage her husband.

The author of the book, Sarah Jio, did an excellent job of hooking me as a reader by constantly revealing just enough details and clues about Esther’s life and how it might relate to Aunt Bee and Emily’s life to keep me guessing and making my own predictions. I was so curious about how Aunt Bee and Emily would find themselves involved in Esther’s story and how Esther impacted their lives and that was the underlying mystery that kept me so infatuated with the book.

The Violets of March wasn’t a whoopsy romance novel like I anticipated, but was a mysterious book about love, loss and finding yourself again when unexpected events interrupt the path you’ve always envisioned for yourself.

SPOILER ALERT + My One Frustration

One thing that frustrated me about this book? ESTHER.

Her decision to fake her death absolutely killed me. I had a hard time understanding how she could fake her death a live a life without Elliot if she really did love him that much. But her “death” was basically the backbone for all of the tension and intrigue in the novel, so I wouldn’t change it. I am just a sucker for love stories and wish she could’ve been reunited with Elliot for longer than just a few moments before his death.

The Violets of March Discussion Questions

  • Whose story did you find more interesting: Emily’s or Esther’s? Why?
  • What do you think of Esther’s decision to fake her own death?
  • Did you find yourself rooting for Emily and Jack to work out throughout the novel? Did you ever have conflicting feelings about their relationship?

Comments

  1. says

    What a great book this was! I think that it was the combination of both stories that was what I loved – the present and the past coming together. I don’t think either one would have necessarily worked as a whole book on their own. I would love to see a sequel about how Emily and Jack’s relationship moves forward.

    I posted my review this morning! http://www.justaonegirlrevolution.com/review-the-violets-of-march/

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  2. Amy says

    I absolutely loved this book! I read it in 2 sittings over Christmas break. I guess that’s what a good mystery will do to ya. I actually liked Emily’s storyline better than Esther’s, and I think it was because it was set in current times (vs. early 1900s). Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE a good historical tale (fiction or non-fiction – Unbroken is my favorite book of all time), but for some reason I just relate more to love stories and other personal stories set in current times vs. those of the past. Emily’s story was also less frustrating since she ended up with Jack, AND she didn’t have to go behind her husband’s back to be with him. But I loved Esther’s story too – it was just more tragic. Can’t wait to vote on next month’s book!

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  3. Elizabeth says

    Julie, I love your blog but lately it seems as though you’ve been slacking. Not really blogging on the weekends, not posting til later in the day. I remember when you had blog talk tuesdays and you said that you always try to blog around 2pm, well lately its been well after. I understand occassionally missing this but it seems like its becoming more frquent lately. Whats going on?

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    • says

      hey elizabeth! i’m sorry you feel like i’ve been slacking. i definitely let myself take a break and not feel “blogging pressure” over the holidays (my priority was family time 100%) and never really make myself post on the weekends – i just post when it feels natural which sometimes is 3x a day, sometimes 2 or occassionally one time a day.

      as for this week, i’ve actually had a lot of freelance opportunities come at me for the new year and am focusing a lot of time into those… but i don’t want to make excuses and want you to know that my blog may evolve and change over time. i’ve actually enjoyed posting later in the day this week, so i may experiment with that for a while… if i don’t like it, i may go back to posting closer to 2 p.m. i do believe that consistency is key to blogging, but so is staying true to yourself and doing what feels right to you as a blogger. this week, it feels right to throw energy into some of my freelance work and post later in the day since i’m typically more productive in the morning. that may change and i appreciate you taking the time to leave me feedback.

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    • Lisa says

      wellllll….I personally feel that when one does not pay for a”service”, they are not “owed” anything, therefore, we really don’t have the right to make demands on when a blogger posts. Yes, we may get in the habit of checking someone’s blog at certain times, but still, it’s free. 😉

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      • Elizabeth says

        I dont think I was making a demand, and for all of the other posters on my comment I believe I was very nice in what I had to say. It was merely my opinion that if julie says in blog talk tuesday post that bloggers need to be consistant that is why she blogs 3x’s a day and at certain times that she should try to follow her own advice. I understand having a life and not always posting 3x’s on the weekend cause she id busy, or not posting right around 2pm every once in a while, but if you are going to give advice on something atleast follow your own. Julie has been posting later thank 2 and sometimes not at all a lot more frequently so I thought I would address it. As far as not paying for a service, although I am not directly paying to read her blog, Julie is getting paid from my viewing of it!

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        • Pam says

          Does your life revolve around Julie’s blog that you are counting and timing her when she posts? Most people had alot going on over the holidays so give her a break and find something more productive to do with your day than checking to see if she does every little single thing she says she will.

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  4. Laurie says

    Ok, I’m a huge loser and kept refreshing your page all day waiting for this post :) I haven’t read it yet, but so far, I love all your recommendations, so I wanted to see if I should put this on my list. Although I can’t read what your frustration is (don’t want to spoil the book), you have me convinced. Also, totally random, but the quarter-zip sweater is my absolute favorite look on a guy!

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  5. says

    Hah, I didn’t know about your “guy in a 1/4 zip” thing! I’m with you on the button down with the sleeves rolled up, but I much prefer a crew neck or vneck sweater :)

    I also love it when guys wear corduroys. I’m a preppy!

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  6. Shell says

    I gives this book a solid A-. It was a page-turner, and I definitely got hooked, easy read, etc.

    Spolier alert:
    HOWEVER, the character tree started to get way too confusing for me. So Aunt Bee is really Frances? And she really loved Elliot too? Wait, wait – who is Henry?

    UGH! So frustrating. Another con was the never-ending “You’ll have to wait and see” moments. Henry couldn’t share the story, her mom couldn’t, Aunt Bee couldn’t. Perhaps, I haven’t read mysteries in awhile, but I wanted to shout, “Come on!” I felt there was a bit too much “Can’t-tell-you-but-you-will-find-out-soon” moments.

    Overall though, glad to have read it!

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    • Anne @strawberryjampackedlife says

      Yes! I got confused, too. I think that part of the reason, is that I never figured out who Aunt Bee was in relation to Emily. Was she her grandmother’s sister? I think it was the fact that Aunt Bee wasn’t a major player in the 1940s love story confused me a bit.

      Other than that I did enjoy the book. It was a great recommendation. Also, I just finished the Hunger Games last night. Only took me a day. Perhaps I should sleep more.

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  7. Katie says

    I loved this book and read it in one day.

    Regarding Emily and Jack’s relationship: I was not a fan. Once I got towards the end, I felt like he was a different person (and we find out why). But in the beginning I thought he kind of reminded me of what I pictured her cheating ex-husband to be like. I would have loved her ex-boyfriend from high school (I can’t recall his name) to have been in the story a little more. He seemed more attentive, loving, and honest. But towards the end, Jack grew on me.

    I agree with Esther’s story – it hooked me in and I felt like I was there with Emily while she was reading it. Seriously loved this book, even despite my dislike for Jack in the beginning.

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      • says

        I loved the book–finished it in the wee hours of the morning last night because I couldn’t put it down! I had similar feelings about Emily and Jack’s relationship. He seemed much less into Emily than Greg, and I found the author’s repeated mentioning of Jack’s super-cleanliness to be some kind of warning sign that never amounted to anything.

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  8. says

    I’m with you on everything but Jack. I didn’t really like him. It felt like something was weird about him and he was too perfect or something. also, once you found out the details of Esther’s story it seemed..sort of incestuous and weird. I also thought Esther was pretty awful for faking her death. I mean it pretty much destroyed several lives and was completely selfish. That being said, I did love the book! It got me so sucked in!

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  9. says

    Whose story did you find more interesting: Emily’s or Esther’s? Why?

    This book had me hooked from the beginning! And let me say, this was the first book I’ve read in over a year so it was a much welcomed and deserved book to be obsessed over! Emily’s story was okay, but I feel like she just gave into her old boyfriend, and then Jack. Jack’s character made me SO mad through the entire book except the end… and then I felt like a jerk haha! I kind of thought that Jack and Emily would work end up working out, and I’m glad I was wrong about Jack. He seems like a stud.

    Esthers story was incredibly real, and her story is a lot like my own Nana’s! She seemed like she was always the spot light of the whole island, so maybe faking her death would be the one way to get over everything and moving on. Even though I think her “death” was very selfish, it was needed. I don’t think she could have lived with Elliot knowing what he did, or what she did to her first family.

    I did find the characters relationships hard to follow. So many family members and non family members intertwined so many times that I literally had to make a family tree to figure out who Esther was really connected to the characters.

    All in all, a great book, and I passed the book to my own grandmother :) Excited for the next book for book club!!!!

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  10. says

    I love that zip up sweater look on guys too! My fiance has a bunch of them because I told him I love how he looks in them. :)

    It’s beyond freezing here too! I’ve been wrapped in blankets next to my space heater all day. That soup looks yummy!

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  11. says

    I liked the book as well–but boy did Esther drive me BONKERS! If she did love Elliott that much, she would’ve used that feeling to fuel her fight for him and ‘live’. I am mad at Bee, and kind of did not like her either…..I guess I was just frustrated?!

    I did not like Jack at first (seemed so here and there and not very attentive), but he grew on me.

    Overall I enjoyed the book as it was a good page turner, but it just made me grateful I am NOT that headstrong and that I review my feelings before taking action. I am careful in my relationships, and am SO glad I found a man (who’s now my husband) who loves ME for me and not because it was the ‘right’ thing to do. Passion, love, and finding your true love are hard to come by, so that is why I was SO mad at Esther for faking her death–she found her true love, why not go after it–esp since she had done so much for that true love up until that point?! Gahh!!!

    I told my sis about it and she read it and liked it too-but found it kind of sad as well. I guess it teaches an important lesson! Forgiveness and not being so selfish are CRUCIAL in a relationship (wish Esther had learned this sooner!)

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  12. Elizabeth says

    Just started reading your blog and when I saw what you said about this book earlier I checked it out. Seemed interesting, so I went ahead and read it. I, like you, read it in a short amount of time because I found it very approachable/readable.

    There were a few things that bothered me. First, what was the point of having Joel want Emily back? This “twist” seemed like a plot device only. Similarily, if Emily could “re-fall” in love so easily with Jack (which it had been, what, three weeks since her divorce?) what was the point of having her be so upset about the divorce in the first place? It seemed like the author was trying to portray Emily and Jack as true soul mates, whereas Emily and Joel were more like Esther and Bobby. That’s fine, but at the beginning it seemed like Emily was distraught over the collapse of her marriage.

    I also thought some of the parallels between Emily’s life and Esther’s were a bit much. For example, the stuff with Henry and Greg. Was it necessary to have Greg’s character? I think Henry was important (since he’s the one who helped Esther “escape” and probably would not have done so if he wasn’t in love with her), but I’m not sure what Greg’s role was.

    The other thing that confused me – and perhaps I just missed something – was how Bee was related to Emily. She wasn’t Esther’s sister – so was she Jane’s sister? Or was she Bobby’s sister? If she’s Jane’s sister, then she isn’t actually related to Emily? Presumably, Jack is Elliot’s later-wife’s offspring and not Lila’s? The family relationships could have been a bit clearer (or maybe I’m just dumb).

    That said, I thought Bee’s character was developed really well and the story of Emily’s family’s secret was captivating. Though at times the story was a bit predictable (i.e., with Emily and Jack), I did not know who Esther was until it was revealed and that kept me reading. I also did not know that Bee was Frances until that was revealed.

    Overall, I’d say this was a good read but not too much better than an ordinary romance novel. I’m excited to see what gets picked for next month’s book club.

    Also – love your blog!

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        • Elizabeth says

          I’m not sure the book ever clarifies this point, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter. I’m guessing Bee was Bobby’s sister because it would seem a little odd if she was Esther’s sister and they just referred to them as friends. It’s possible she was Jane’s sister, also, since Emily grew up thinking Jane was her grandmother. I don’t know… what do you think? Or did they say it somewhere and I missed it?

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        • says

          I assumed she was just a friend of the family who they called “aunt”…

          Did they ever confirm that Bobby remarried the next door neighbor!? The names were close and I assumed that to be true, but was it clarified in the book?

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      • Anne @strawberryjampackedlife says

        I went back to find out, and couldn’t find a place where the author tells the relationship between Bee and Emily (other than just “great aunt”).

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    • says

      elizabeth! sarah jio, the author of the book just replied to a tweet i sent out to her asking about bee’s exact relation. here’s what she said: “hi! Em’s mom is the niece of Bee and her late husband. So, Bee is Emily’s great aunt! :)” there ya go!

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      • Elizabeth says

        Still doesn’t clarify if Bee is Bobby’s sister or Esther’s sister, right? Or perhaps Bee’s husband was the sibling? I don’t know why this is taking up so much room in my mind, but it bothered me when I was reading the book, too. Maybe because the book I read before it had an elaborate family tree that was set out right at the beginning (as a picture).

        @ Lindsay – there is one point near the end when they talk about Jane being Janice. I don’t think it’s 100% clear but it’s definitely alluded to. Not sure the page number, but on my kindle version, it’s 75% of the book (ha!), and it says “‘My grandfather,’ I said, ‘he was married to someone else before he married my grandma Jane, and I…’ Oh God… could Jane by … Janice?”

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      • says

        Haha – my mom LIVED in her robe when I was a kid! She is a nurse and worked nights – 7-7, so when she would get up from sleeping mid-day, she would just wear her robe. One time my sister snuck out past curfew for a party across the street and my mom went over to the party IN HER ROBE and walked all around yelling my sister’s name!!

        Robes always make me think of my mom :)

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  13. says

    I enjoyed this book, although I will say that parts of it were a bit “chick lit”, to me…I’m not sure I’d fully recommend it to others, but I did enjoy it and it was a great and easy holiday/vacation read!

    To answer your questions…

    Whose story did you find more interesting: Emily’s or Esther’s? Why? I think I found Esther’s more interesting – it was definitely more of a mystery, so I guess that is why! Although once they began to intertwine, they became equally as interesting!

    What do you think of Esther’s decision to fake her own death? Very sad! How could she leave her first daughter!?

    Did you find yourself rooting for Emily and Jack to work out throughout the novel? Did you ever have conflicting feelings about their relationship? I think I caught on to the fact that there was a parallel between Emily and Jack, and Esther and Elliot, so I was pulling for them. I kind of always felt she was jumping to conclusions with Jack.

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  14. Elisabeth says

    Like many of you, I also read this book in about two sittings over winter vacation. It was a very compelling story, and I liked it up until the end.

    I really enjoyed the relationship development between Bee and Emily. Some of the lines were pretty cheesy, but the dynamic seemed overall very genuine.

    I thought the ending was so contrived… Esther couldn’t have faked her own death and live without her daughter/friends/Elliot. I was really frustrated with the speedy wrap up of both Esther and Emily’s stories. Boo :(
    Plus, why did the “violets” play such a small role? They weren’t ever really addressed at the end of the book. Also, isn’t the Emily/Jack relationship a tad incestual? Don’t they share a common Aunt? I really struggled with the ending, but overall, I enjoyed Violets of March very much. Good pick for this month.

    Also, I love your blog!! I’ve been reading since september, and my roommate and I read every day. As college students, we still don’t understand the get-up-early thing… but I guess that comes with some more self discipline and maturity.

    Funny enough, my Grandmother lives in Ocala, and we’re in the process of trying to get her re-located to one of the local elderly communities: I understand your new years resolution completely when you mention the lack of social scene for anyone under 65!

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  15. says

    I am so glad I decided to read this book! I haven’t really been reading too much over the past year so it felt great to really get into this book.

    I really enjoyed the combination of both Emily and Esther’s stories but I think Esther’s story is what really made me get into the book. I loved the history and the mystery :)

    I actually wasn’t frusterated that she faked her death. I think at that point in her life she felt like she had no other choice.

    Can’t wait to see what the next book is!

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  16. Jennifer says

    Hi Julie! I’m brand spankin’ new to your blog (just discovered it yesterday and love it!)… I typically read design and DIY blogs and am new to the fitness blog scene. In response to a previous comment… I actually enjoyed a later-than-normal post. My “usual blogs” are all pretty much done posting by this point in the day, it was nice to sit down and see something new in the evening. So that’s my two little scents :)

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    • says

      I agree! It’s fun to have people posting at different times throughout the day. Plus, I understand that your freelance work requires creative juices that don’t always come on command, so you gotta make ’em work when you can, right?! :-)

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  17. says

    I am so glad I decided to participate in your book club this month! I absolutely loved the book and it completely sucked me in as well! I actually really loved both Esther and Emily’s story. They were different and somewhat similar, but I still really liked them both. I too was frustrated by how Esther decided to fake her death and then not reunite with Elliot- although it does seem like she saw him in the end (or at least her daughter? saw him for some closure). I definitely wanted Emily and Jack to workout! Probably because I’m a sucker for romance, and even though they had some bumps along the way, I had a feeling that he wasn’t dating someone else and that Emily was jumping the gun when she made up her mind about what he was doing.

    And I just wrote a book as a comment haha…sorry!

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  18. says

    Hi everyone! This is Sarah Jio, the author of The Violets of March. I’m so grateful to Julie for picking the book as your book club pick, and it’s so fun reading the comments here. So happy to see that you all enjoyed it! I’ll be poking back in here later to answer any questions, so if you have any for me, please let me know! My new novel, The Bungalow, came out last week, and I hope you will enjoy it just as much (hint: There’s one character from Violets who makes a cameo appearance!). Hugs to all from Seattle! xoxo

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    • Elizabeth says

      Hi Sarah,

      I really enjoyed the book and read it over two days (couldn’t put it down, I even stayed up later than I have in months (minus NYE- haha) to read it). BUT, now that we are talking about it above, I’m just really curious to know the “family tree” – on which side is Bee related to Emily? Is she Bobby’s sister or Esther’s sister (or neither)? Jack is Elliot’s grandson from his wife, and not by Lila, right?

      Great book, will check out your new book, as well!

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  19. says

    I’m not typically a Starbucks go-er, but that Chai Tea Latte sounds really yummy. Have you ever tried Bolthouse Farm’s Chai Tea Latte? It’s served cold but it is SO yummy and addictive. I down a bottle of that stuff in less than a week. Shameful, but so worth it!

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  20. Kassi says

    I really liked the book but, for reasons similar to what you stated, Esther kind of bothered me. I couldn’t understand how she would just end all contact with Elliot after seeing him with another woman without even asking him for an explanation. I also think Elliot could have tried harder to get her back. He could have explaned himself to her friends and have them talk to her. That aspect of the book really frustrated me!

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  21. says

    I loved this book but also totally agree with your assessment of Esther’s final decision. ALSO, why did her daughter not reveal to Elliot that she was his daughter also? That I found totally bizarre.

    I did think that the Emily-Jack love story was pretty cute, but let’s get real, they went on like 2 dates and then were madly in love? That don’t make no sense.

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  22. Lisa says

    It’s in the 20’s here. And when it was in the 60’s the heat was on (low, but on). My advice…turn on the heat! Even if you turn it off (or low) when you’re out. Not fun to be waking up in the a.m. to 28 degree weather.

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  23. Nikki says

    Thanks to your blog, I really enjoyed this book. I am always looking for something new to read and this hit the spot! I thought it was an easy read and allowed you to finish quite quickly! I stayed up too late finishing it!

    Overall, I thought it was really good. I loved the back in forth between the past and present which suprised me becuase I usually only like books taking place in the current. My two frustrations – the family relationship between Bee and Emily. I had to go back and search the beginning of the book to really figure it all out. Second, love just seemed too easy for Emily. I just found it hard to believe that directly after a divorce she was deciding between two guys, but she is just a lucky girl I guess! After finishing I understood that it paralleled Esther’s story.

    To answer your questions…
    •Whose story did you find more interesting: Emily’s or Esther’s? Why?

    I liked Esthers more, it was less predictable than Emilys and definitely kept you guessing.

    •What do you think of Esther’s decision to fake her own death?

    I think she just felt out of options, so she decided it would be easier to move on. This is definitely an emotionally charged decision. It seems slightly unrealistic that she would never change her mind to come back into the life of her first daughter.

    •Did you find yourself rooting for Emily and Jack to work out throughout the novel? Did you ever have conflicting feelings about their relationship?

    I actually thought their relationship was a little off, but I think it worked with the storyline and made sense over time.

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  24. Tiffany says

    Lunch looks delicious! I will have to pick up a copy of that book next time I’m at the bookstore! Sounds really interesting!

    By the way, I had peanut butter today with oatmeal after a really long time…Im not sure why but for a while I didnt like peanut butter. Had some today and I was totally hooked again LOL! Your the only one that I know would understand my peanut butter appreciation! haha :)

    Have a great! I really love your blog! Super fun, interesting and cute!

    By the way does ruelala.com offer great deals most of the time? I’m thinking about signing up.

    Thanks Julie!!

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  25. nicole@winewalking.blogspot.com/ says

    I feel the same way about faking her death – I feel like it demeaned their love. Wouldn’t she have found out at some point that they were not together and come back if she was so in love with him? It kinda frustrated me. I also was wondering if the heroine and Jack – her love interest were related?

    Overall I liked it! Thank you for recommending it!

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  26. Jill says

    I picked this book up on a whim because I was at the library and the selection is limited and figured they would have it (only searched after i noticed your pick for the month…curiousity). Definitely not a typical read for me…not the best told type of thing, its been done before and in ways I’ve enjoyed more. But no, I wasn’t a fan of Esther’s decision…thought it was a bit…weird.
    Ha….I kind of kept thinking that Emily would wind up with her ex to be honest. Not sure why…I didn’t feel like I knew Jack that well, didn’t think he’d grow to be an important character.
    To be very honest, I got confused a lot during the book and had to stop and just mentally sort out the characters in my head again…ha…but that’s me…i have a busy mind and i’m (unfortunately) a ton more scatterbrained than I used to be.

    I’d recommend to you:
    – Water For Elephants (really good…and again, this is not the type of thing I read)
    – High Heels and Tractor Wheels (The Pioneer Woman)
    – Fly Away Home (Jennifer Weiner)

    And Im’ sure you’ve alreaady read The Help and Room…amazing books.

    I won’t get started on YA…a more typical interest of mine. Just thinking of the “other” category in the recs above.

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  27. Jill says

    I should add that overall I did enjoy The Violets of March. Its kind of like one of those hallmark movies…it almost was a warming, appropriate tale to read in 2 days over a very quiet christmas (fast read).

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  28. says

    Thanks so much for this book recommendation. It was a blast to read and really kept me on my toes. I thought the plot was riveting, and I had fun puzzling together which character was which before the big reveal.

    In response to your questions, I liked Esther’s story better, but I agree that her death was disappointing. How could she leave her baby? I laughed after the book when I quoted Emily’s mom: “Who leaves their baby?!” The fact that she travels the world with her new baby (the one she really loves because it’s Elliot’s?), it makes her seem cold and heartless that she abandoned the other. If a woman I didn’t like was raising my new child, I’d be devastated and try to stop it. It seemed like faking her death was an irrational and hasty decision that she should have come to regret and amend when she realized her error.

    I thought the characters were well-developed, but I agree with another comment that stated Emily’s high school boyfriend didn’t need to be there. (It made me wonder – how can this woman have so many men in her life at one time?!)

    I felt that Emily and Jack’s relationship seemed rushed. I would have felt like it was more realistic to have just a glimmer of hope for them, like maybe they would start flirting at the end of the book rather than being in love and knowing they’re soul mates. It seemed like she was too hasty to move on from her divorce, even though I know the island was supposed to be a healing process.

    Overall, great choice and fun read. I wish I belonged to a real book club because it’s so fun to hear what everyone thinks!

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  29. says

    I loved how Emily and Ester’s stories worked together, and how I couldn’t mt guess what was going to happen, which is usually the case for romance novels. I was rooting for Emily and Jack, but honestly I felt like it was almost too easy!

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  30. Summer says

    I loved esther’s story, but to be honest I think I would hate her in real life. She’s kind of self-centered and overdramatic, but that made for some good readin’! Emily wasn’t my favorite character, I found her to be a little bland. Evelyn was THE JAM!

    I’m about to start Sarah Jio’s new book, The Bungalow- hope it’s just as good!

    Quick question about the soup (which looks so yummy)- are the chicken tenders raw or pre-cooked when you add them?

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  31. says

    We keep our place at 63 degrees – it’s freezing. I always have to wear Cuddle Duds in the Winter!
    You should check out my 50 Books in 2012 goal & I’ll be posting book recommendations in the coming week.

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  32. says

    That part of the ending killed me too! I liked the twist that she was still alive, but yea – don’t make the guy think he sent you flying over the edge of a cliff for all his life! And the Esther/Elliot story sucked me in most too. I loved that you couldn’t really figure out what the big secrets were though like some books that are obvious from the beginning.

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  33. says

    Something I forgot to post earlier…when Esther threw her engagement ring and it went down the storm drain, my heart stopped! I think my mouth literally fell open. I wanted to turn the page back to undo it!!

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  34. says

    I just finished this book tonight! Aaaah I loveed the story! But i know what you mean, it made me mad too, how could she go on for so long and not tell anyone, and Henry too! I love that they got to see each other, but I wanted to know more. After reading her diary, i wanted to know more from her perspective and about their reunion! And even how Elliot got the ring back? I didn’t understand how he couldn’t have explained himself to her earlier on and prevented all the tragedy in the first place. Some of it was unrealistic and made me mad, but I guess that’s how life goes, weird things happen that are are only clear when you look back.

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  35. says

    I totally agree with you on the frustration with Esther…and the entire ending really! I’m glad she made it back to see Elliot, but I agree, it just didn’t quite make sense.
    I would LOVE to read a story from Bee’s point of view. I thought she was a very mysterious character and kept found myself wondering more about her story than Emily’s or Esther’s.
    Overall I really loved the book though! Great choice! I’ve recommended to my friends, and can’t wait to reread it as a beach read this spring!

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  36. says

    I loved the book. Back in those days, infidelity was a mortal sin so I’m sure Esther felt her only option was to go away. And jack and Emily are not that hard to believe. She only thought she was devastated over her husband divorcing her until she met jack and realized her husband wasn’t the one for her after all. Excellent easy read and it was just what I needed at the moment!

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  37. Meghan Roy (@meghanroy) says

    So I read this book in one night haha. I am a crazyyyy person with no life apparently.

    But Esther bothered me too! I loved her as a character, but I wanted more in the end. Her fake death really aggravated me, because it destroyed so many people’s lives in the end. But I guess it had to happen in order for the other happy ending in the book, which I love by the way. I was Team Jack from the second he had to duck walking in the door.

    I just wish there was more at the end with Esther and Elliot. Obviously, Emily wasn’t there to like “report” in the novel about it. But part of me wishes that she was because I wanted to know what happened in the last few minutes before Elliot died. Soooo many questions left unasnwered.

    But seriously, that was such a great book.

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  38. Laura says

    Hi Julie! Love your blog! Just wondering… Have you switched to just twice a day blogging and talking about dinner the next morning? I’ve realized this is your style as of late and was wondering if to blog less was a goal of yours in 2012 to maybe spend time with your hubby once he returns home from work. Just curious, so I could stop anticipating the dinner update if you were going to stop those… Your choice either way just curious! Thanks!

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    • says

      hi laura! i’m honestly not sure! this week i’ve been innundated w/ freelance projects for the new year (not complaining!) and have found myself getting a lot done in the beginning of the day, pushing my lunchtime post back a bit… and then i find myself not feeling the blogging vibes again so soon after i just posted. i’m actually really liking this new schedule (it’s really nice to have completely free nights!), so i really can’t say whether or not it will stick at the moment. i guess only time will tell. i wish i had a definite answer for you. :/

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  39. says

    I have never done a book club book “with you” before, but after reading how much you liked the book, and the fact that I AM FROM BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, I knew I had to read it!

    I absolutely got completely sucked in too, I needed a new good book to read, over the holidays and this certainly fit the bill. I do have to say that Esther’s faked death killed me too – I felt like it was beyond unrealistic of her character if she was really truly head over heels for Elliot. I did like the ending how she came back to see him in his dying bed…. but come on, waiting that long?!!

    I want to track down Sarah Jio – I want to know what happened to Emily – was it her, Sarah?? Did she marry Jack? Do they live on Bainbridge?? Questions, unanswered?!!! :)

    I liked the Esther story and I agree, it definitely played the part in keeping the reader engaged, but in many ways, I felt the book was pretty predictable. The whole three generations of love and loss… and obviously she had to blow Joel off in the end and obviously Emily would end up with Jack, but I suppose “putting the pieces together” really came from the whole Esther story and like you said, her fake death did play a pivotal role. Anyway, all in all, a great book and I will have to see what you come up with for this month! 😀

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  40. says

    I am not a reader, I sure wish I was. We hold out as long as we can on heat and Airconditioning but eventually we give in. You can make it without heat where you live.

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  41. says

    I definitely was rooting for Emily and Jack, and was equally frustrated with Esther’s fake death. But at least Elliot got a chance to see her before he passed away. I can’t imagine how he felt though going through life without his soul mate like that. It was a great book!

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  42. Elizabeth says

    We keep our heat at 55 in the winter and we live in the North East where it’s freezing! I know it sounds crazy, but we live in a big, old, three-floor Victorian house that is sooo expensive to heat! My husband and I always make a pact to keep the house at 55 in the winter and then treat ourselves on April 1st with a nice gift with the money we saved. This year I have my eye on the Pippa bag.

    Yes, I bundle up in a bunch of layers during the winter, but my body really does get used to it. On the plus side, the cold weather also makes my skin look fabulous!

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  43. Kim says

    Julie,
    I am bored with my gym workout so I decided to try the interval workout you posted this morning.
    After 15 minutes on the stairs, I hopped on the the treadmill. Definitely a great challenge and something different! Thanks for sharing.
    Kim

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  44. Holly B says

    I thought the book was not great. I did like the story of Esther, but overall, it seemed like the 2 half-stories that were running through the book (current day and in the past) didn’t fully add up to 1 big story. The end was sooo not satisfying- I definitely agree with you there, Julie!

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  45. Christina says

    I jus finished the book last night.. i thought it was a good mystery!

    There are some questions I read in some of the other comments that I remember from the book:

    Elliot and Lila were married and had a kid(s) which is where Jack came from. So with Emily being from Ester and Bobby’s family and Jack being from Elliot and hLila.. there is nothing weird in their relationship. His grandfather loved her grandmother.. but there was no relation between the two although they shared an aunt.

    Also, I didn’t particularly care that Esther decided to fake her death, but considering she had told Elliot they were over for good and was kicked out of her house by her husband and then seeing Elliot and Frances together when she already suspected Frances of having feelings for Elliot.. then I can see her character feeling like that was her only choice, that she had lost everything and only could start over.. and not stay with Billy (Henry) because she didn’t really love him and she didn’t want to do the same thing she had done with Bobby (settle for someone she didn’t love with all her heart)

    I’m glad she survived with the baby and that she was still alive at the end of the book and came to see Elliot.
    Its not exactly what I would’ve wished had happened (her staying away) but sometimes life decisions get messy. Also, she didn’t really choose to leave her first daughter… she wanted to take her but Bobby would not let her.

    Grandma Jane was Janice.. when Emily was talking to her mother on the phone about what all she discovered her mother then told her about that. Thats the reason she didn’t want her wearing Grandma Jane’s veil, she said that Emily was too much like Esther and that it didn’t seem right. Also, the reason why Jane dyed Emily’s hair when she was younger.. she reminded her too much of Esther.

    I liked the similarities that happened in the diary and also to Emily, how she would find herself in the same area that an event had occurred. I was liking the suggestion of her and Jack together but I found myself scared for her getting hurt. In the end she did have a right to be concerned but also she tended to not only have her grandmother’s talents but also her rash decision making (which i shared too!)

    I would almost love to see a sequel in which Emily and Jack find Esther and Lana and are able to get to know them and have Esther, Bee (Francis), and Emily’s mom(Esther’s 1st daughter) reunite.
    Maybe even Emily going to her grandfather and talking to him ( i felt kind of bad when Esther talked about him just viewing her as a trophy and him being so receptive to Jane’s baked goods)

    just my two cents :)

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  46. Courtney says

    I absolutely loved this book, but I definitely agree with the frustration over Esther’s fake death. Throughout the early part of the story, I really admired her spunk and charisma. But faking her death seemed so petty considering she hadn’t even given her “true love” a chance to explain himself (same goes for throwing the ring in the storm drain!).

    Because of this, I was much more intrigued with Emily’s story of healing and “finding herself” back on Bainbridge. I often felt like I was piecing the puzzle together with her, which kept me completely engaged in the story.

    While I liked her and Jack together at times, there were many points when I wondered if they might be related, partly because so much of the back story was up in the air but also because Bee’s reaction to Jack was so harsh. Once some of the gaps were filled in, it was much easier to root for them.

    I agree with some of the other comments rooting for a sequel. Great book club pick!

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