This week I read two books by Sarah Jio: The Last Camellia and Morning Glory. I think I've read all five of Sarah Jio's novels so far. You can read my posts about The Bungalow, The Violets of March, and Blackberry Winter by following the links.
Sarah Jio is the master at writing books with two plots, one from the present and the other one from the past, and then weaving the two together seamlessly to form a cohesive story. Although formulaic, it doesn't really matter because Jio is the very best storyteller.
Flora, an American botanist, is sent to the English countryside by a shady conman to locate a rare camellia called the Middlebury Pink. Thought to be the very last of its kind and stolen from the British royal family, Flora begins working as a nanny on the estate where the camellia its thought to be hidden. Her mission proves difficult on many levels: First of all, the estate has a camellia orchard, and the client who's willing to pay big bucks for the tree is a Nazi.
In the present, landscape designer Addison accompanies her writer husband to his parents' English estate where she discovers a cryptic inscription in a Virginia Woolf novel and a journal documenting the estate's extensive camellia orchard. On each page of the journal there's a mysterious code Addison doesn't understand, and this mystery is a distraction from her dangerous blackmailer. Can Addison trust her husband with a horrific tragedy she witnessed as a teenager?
If you've heard of Sarah Jio and want to read one of her books, I highly recommend The Last Camellia.
I must admit that I love camellias. We have several of the dwarf variety planted in our garden, and it's the state flower of Alabama. Here is the book trailer for The Last Camellia: