Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio (ARC Copy- Release Date May 28, 2013)

The Last Camillia twists two separate tales, divided by time, together into a one story. There's Flora, who left her home in New York City, on the eve of WWII, to go to England. Though her family believed she was headed to work in horticulture, she was really a pawn for an international flower smuggling ring. Her task was to find the last known specimen of a rare camellia, thought to be in the gardens of a country estate. Posing as the nanny for the children of the household, Flora digs up real dirt, in the form of criminal activities happening on the estate, above and beyond the caper with which she is involved. Add in romance, and mystery, and Flora's story is rather compelling, as she tries her best to unravel the intrigue and not become tainted by evilness.

The modern day thread revolves around Addison, a successful garden designer, who, frightened by the ghosts from her past, escapes with her husband, to the English country estate his parents recently purchased. Once there, while trying to keep her own history a secret, she begins to try unraveling the mysteries of the manor, and just why locals think the place is trouble.

The tales were well told, though a little abrupt/choppy in places. I never particularly warmed to several of the main characters, and at least for Addison, wanted her to talk to her husband directly, to be honest. But then there might not have been a story. Ah well.

For a while we had a garden design business, plus living in Charleston, where Camellias are plentiful and adored, I was interested in some of the botanical and horticultural aspects. That one of the main characters was from Charleston was sort of fun, but the references to the city captured none of the flavor. In fact, one reference, (which may be gone in the final edition, since what I read was the ARC) jarred me enough that I lost the train of the story. But I slipped back into the worlds of Flora and Addision and walked with them as they tried to find truth, and keep clear heads and hearts.

I will keep my eyes open for more of Jio's work, for even though I wasn't entirely swept away by the novel, the journey I did take was pleasant, and has given me a bouquet of thoughts.  And that's a good thing to come away with when reading.

Many thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program and the publisher for sending me this copy of the book.

1 comment:

  1. You made this sound like a pretty interesting book.... I'll have to look for a copy next month.
    I love working in my yard... planted some veggies yesterday and pulled weeds in some of the flower beds. We've lived in this house for 22 years now and have gone from a yard of full sun to mostly shade... It's very different gardening and I'm still adjusting to buying shade loving plants ;) Thanks again for another review that peaked my interest.