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


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?


  1. 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.


  2. 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!


    • 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. :/


  3. 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! 😀


  4. 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.


  5. 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!


  6. 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!


  7. Kim says

    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.


  8. 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!


  9. 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 🙂


  10. 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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