Book Review: The Last Camellia

August 29, 2013 3.5 stars, book review, fiction, flower gardens, history, Sarah Jio 4

Written by:  Sarah Jio

Published by: Plume an imprint of Penguin Books May 2013

Length:  306 pages

Source: Publisher

From Goodreads:
A romantic and suspenseful tale about two women whose destiny is bound across the years

On the eve of World War II, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?

My Thoughts: 
Sarah Jio has once again written a lovely book, with just enough mystery to keep things interesting.  Told in two voices this book has both Flora and Addison keeping secrets from those she loves.  Flora agrees to sleuth around the estate because she is trying to keep her family safe back in America.  She adores the children she is playing Nanny to, and as she finds the gardens and secret rooms of plants the former mistress kept she wants to learn more.  Why are there such secrets?

Addison is held mentally captive by a former foster child of her aunt, a person who she shares a deep dark secret, one she never wants her husband to learn.  When she and her husband stay at the newly acquired estate of her in-laws she learns much more about the estate.  What more is there she will discover?  

I enjoyed this book, but I must admit not as much as the three previous books by Ms. Jio.  Her writing style is captivating, her character development deep, but I never felt as invested in the story or the character of Addison at all.  Flora was someone I wanted to cheer for, to know more about.  

I’ve given this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, I still liked it, and I anxiously look forward to Sarah Jio’s next book, which will publish in November of this year.  Morning Glory is set on a houseboat!!  Look for Sarah Jio on facebook, twitter @sarahjioand on her website.

4 Responses to “Book Review: The Last Camellia”

  1. bermudaonion

    I’ve read one of her books and enjoyed it. It sounds like all of her books follow a similar pattern and I can see how they’d be hit or miss after a while.

  2. Lisa

    I wonder if Jio needs to start with a fresh style – it seems that all of her books have the same structure (past and present, some mystery). I wonder if it’s just getting old?

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