I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume on May 28th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Source: the Publisher
Also by this author: The Violets of March, The Bungalow, Blackberry Winter
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?
“She always said it would bloom when it sensed peace, and a rightness with the world.”
Flora is approached about a job opportunity that would help save her family from ruin, unfortunately it requires her to set her morals aside in order to help a ring of flower thieves obtain a long lost camellia. It also requires her to travel to England in 1940 when World War II is underway.
Addison and her husband travel to England to stay at the manor his parents have just purchased. Upon their arrival they find themselves immersed in a dark mystery from the 1940’s that involves the mysterious death of the lady of the manor and several girls who went missing. One in particular is a girl named Flora, a nanny who stayed at the manor, who disappeared one night and was never seen from again.
This is now the fourth Sarah Jio book I’ve read in which she’s stuck with her tried and true method of weaving stories of the past and stories of the present together to create something truly engaging. The dual narratives switched back and forth frequently between Flora and Addison but there was never any confusion between the two. I found myself far more interested in the past story than the present, but technically they were one in the same considering how they came together in the end.
I found that the major story was told (for both Flora and Addison) but the smaller stories and details weren’t fleshed out completely. One example is I really wish there had been more of a proper build-up in the relationship between Flora and Desmond. It seemed far too sudden when the confessions of love started happening, but those two managed to be charming nonetheless. Also, I was left with several questions that went unanswered by the end and I can only assume it was left like that for the reader to form on their own interpretation.
The Last Camellia is an intriguing dual-narrative mystery with a hint of romance about a rare camellia that drew two very different women together. It’s a tale of love, friendship and life… and always doing what you know is right.
Thanks to the generosity of Plume/Penguin Group (USA) I’m able to offer 5 Winners a copy of The Last Camellia.
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