Monday, June 24, 2013

The Last Camellia

The Last Camellia
Author: Sarah Jio
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Plume (Penguin)

Idgie Says:
I'm putting my review before the book description for a simple reason.  When the book showed up on my doorstep and I read the back cover, I rolled my eyes and groaned.  I had not an ounce of interest in reading about dastardly international flower thieves.  If the publisher had approached me about it before sending I would have said "No Thank You".  Luckily they didn't!

The prologue didn't entice much either, what with the Queen's men scouring the countryside looking for a flowering bush for her garden, complete with Royal Proclamations.

Therefore I was pleasantly surprised that by the end of Chapter One I was enticed into settling into my chair and visiting with the book for a while.  This novel turned out to have a nice little story line - two actually - where the characters were lively enough to keep you quite interested in what was going on with them.  One group of characters set in the 1940s and the second in present day.  The Camellia, luckily, became a background affair.  

Both Flora, in the 1940's, and Addison, in the present, have lives with history and secrets and desires that come out in the novel that have nothing to do with the flower.  On their own they are interesting enough to keep you engaged.  Flora is hiding a secret that will help her family if she follows through and Addison is hiding a past that terrifies her.

A good fast read, great for summer enjoyment.  Look past the back cover.

Book Description:
On the eve of the Second World War, 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?