Monday, July 1, 2013

The Last Camellia - Sarah Jio - Review AND Giveaway!

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I first discovered Sarah Jio's writing when I picked up her debut novel, The Violets of March. (my review) I really enjoyed it (it's still my favourite) So did a lot of other readers - it went on to be a New York Times Bestseller, as did her second book Blackberry Winter.

Newly released is Sarah's fourth book - The Last Camellia.

You've probably heard that different flowers have different meanings - yellow roses are for friendship, for example. The meaning of the camellia flower? My destiny is in your hands.

 Definitely, no one's destiny is of their own making in The Last Camellia. Jio returns to a form of storytelling that I've quite enjoyed in previous books - a  dual past and present telling of a story, that seem to mirror each other - seventy years apart.

Livingstone Manor in England is home to one of the rarest camellias of all - the Middlebury Pink. It is coveted by botanists world wide and prized by flower thieves. In 1940, young New Yorker Flora Lewis is blackmailed into helping one of those thieves. She heads to England to work as a nanny at Livingstone Manor - but her real job is to hunt down the Middlebury. But Flora is not the only one with a secret -the Manor and its inhabitants have their own secrets.

In 2000, New Yorker Addison Sinclair is also being blackmailed by someone from her past. To keep her secrets hidden, she agrees to spend the summer at an estate in England that her in-laws have purchased. Yes, you guessed it - it's Livingstone Manor. Addison starts to piece together the mysteries of the Manor as she strives to keep her own past hidden from her husband.

The Last Camellia has a Gothic feel to it, with a rambling old manor,  hidden rooms and wings, a family beset by tragedy, and an omnipresent housekeeper who straddles both time lines and more. Jio's plotting this time is quite involved, with many links and coincidences. The plot seemed to take precedence over character development in this book. I found I quite enjoyed the character of Flora and her love story, but didn't really feel the same for Addison and her husband Rex. That being said, the plotting moves the book along very quickly - it was a two sitting read for me.

The descriptions of the conservatory, gardens and flowers were wonderful and added much to the story. The Last Camellia is a lovely little summer read to curl up with on the porch -  by the garden, of course, where you can smell the flowers. (As a aside - I think the covers of Jio's novels are always quite beautiful.)

See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Last Camellia. Book clubs - there is a reading group guide available.

You can find Sarah Jio on Facebook and on Twitter. Watch for Sarah Jio's fifth book - Morning Glory - releasing in November 26/13.

See what other bloggers on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

And thanks to the lovely folks at Plume - I have FIVE copies to giveaway. Yes, you read that right - five. Open to US and Canada. To be entered - leave a comment with the name of your favourite flower. Winners will be randomly chosen. Ends Sunday July 21/13.

26 comments:

Mary (Bookfan) said...

My favorite flower is hydrangea - especially the blue ones. Thanks for the chance to win The Last Camellia. It's been on my wish list :)

Linda said...

This novel sounds great; I love the dual past & present concept. As for a favorite flower, I love seeing the fields of color produced by wild flowers such as Texas bluebells. thanks for the giveaway.
lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

Linda said...

I enjoy novels with a dual past/present plot. This sounds like a great book. Favorite flower is seeing a field of wild flowers such as Texas bluebells. Thanks for the giveaway.

traveler said...

Thanks for this lovely giveaway. My favorite flower is the tulip. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

A unique novel which captured my interest. A flower that I love are sunflowers. Thanks for this great giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Tara said...

Love White Hydrangeas

TaraTagli at gmail dot com

bermudaonion said...

I love all flowers but I guess the rose is my favorite. Thanks for the great giveaway!

holdenj said...

I like a lot of flowers, but one of my favorites is the peony! Thanks!
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

rhonda said...

Love roses in my garden &in my home.also huge Sarah jio fan.lomazowr@gmail.com

JJT said...

The rose - jtretin at aol dot com

Anita Yancey said...

My favorite flower is carnations and I like them in different colors. I would love to read this book. Thanks for having the giveaway.
ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I love the smell of Lily of the Valley, I even have cologne that smells like it.

cenya2 at Hotmail dot com

Carol N Wong said...

My favorite flower is the peony. I love its smell and the bloom is so extravagant! I also have lots of memories of my mother connected with this flower.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Sue Farrell said...

I think my favorite flower is our wild roses.
suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Flowers are probably the most beautiful things in our world today and my favorite is the bluebonnet, especially seen along the roadways. Thanks for a great giveaway! bookfriend44@yahoo.com

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I love her books. I read The Violets of March in one day. My favorite flower is a gerbera daisy.

Tamye said...

I love tulips, but unfortunately I don't have any in my garden right now. I've been wanting to read something by Sarah Jio for a while. Thanks.

tamyemachina@gmail.com

Charlotte said...

Great give away, thank you.
CABWNANA1@bellsouth.net

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

This book would be an exciting read and has a great storyline, I would love to read it.

cenya2 at Hotmail dot com

Maureen said...

It looks like an intriguing story.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Charlotte said...

I love pansies.
CABWNANA1@bellsouth.net

Gina D said...

My favorite flower is a peony in my yard because it is part of a plant that my grandma had in her yard :)

funmail07 at gmail dot com

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

This does sound like a wonderful summer read - I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Thanks for being on the tour.

lolomommy said...

I don't have a favorite flower, but I love them all.

BookLady said...

My favorite flower is the rose. Thanks for the great giveaway.
bhometchko(at)hotmail(dot)com

Jessica said...

I know it's cliche but my favorite flower is a rose. =]

Thanks!
-Jessica M
walkingcorpse11@hotmail.com