"Terrific … compelling … an intoxicating blend of mystery, history and romance, this book is hard to put down." --Real Simple
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?
Fans of Downton Abbey should rush to pick up this novel.
In her fourth novel, Jio (The Violets of Summer) relies on her tried-and-true, and generally successful, formula of basing the novel on a present-day protagonist unraveling mysteries from the life of a woman in the early decades of the 20th century. In 2000, landscape designer Addison flees her New York City home (and secret past) with her English husband, Rex, for Livingston Manor, his parents' new country estate outside London. But she soon finds that Livingston Manor has secrets of its own that relate to a woman who, 60 years before, underwent the same journey. In 1940 amateur botanist Flora, at the behest of an international flower thief, leaves New York behind to work as a nanny for the estate's owners, a wealthy family who may have been harboring a rare camellia species on their property. She discovers, however, something far more sinister going on, involving women who have been disappearing from a nearby town. In 2000, Addison gradually realizes that the same danger Flora once faced may be closing in on her as well. Jio, who has proven herself a solid crafter of suspense and intrigue, stumbles a bit in her latest effort but not enough to deter her many fans.
Who would ever have thought that floral theft was such a big thing! Although it does figure that anything rate is valuable. I really loved this book, the ups and downs and the twists and turns. I've grown to love all Sarah Jio's books and can't wait for the next one. Some of the parts of this story seemed so realistic to me that it just hurt to read those parts. Great ending as well.
I love it!
I always look forward to Sarah's next book! As with her others, this book is very enjoyable! I highly recommend it.
In a nutshell, The Last Camellia is a mystery novel that takes place in two different settings (present day and 1940′s) but in the same location. Present day Addison’s past is catching up to her and so she convinces her husband to skip across the ocean to Livingston Manor. The manor’s key feature is its orchards, and in particular the camellias. Once there, she starts to uncover the mystery of several young women who died during the 1940′s and tries to figure it out while dealing with her own demons.
Then there’s Flora, who was hired as a nanny for the Livingston children but, really, she was hired to steal a very rare camellia called the Middlebury Pink. She arrives at the manor around the time that women are disappearing and doesn’t quite know what to make of the Livingston family. The whole place is a bit depressing after the recent (and questionable) death of Lady Anna, the mistress of the estate and lover of all things flowers.
At this point the book was a solid 4 stars. Naturally, there’s some love thrown in and manor living is predictable (snotty kids and gossipy servants). Most of the characters weren’t fully developed but I was able to gloss over that part, too. But then I got to the end and it plummeted. Now, I’m not one to judge a book by its ending just because I don’t like it, but I do have a problem with unfinished endings. And unfortunately, The Last Camellia left me confused and pretty irritated. Sure, I can speculate about what happened but I really have no idea. It’s not that it was complex, but rather that it seemed like the author had a page limit and rushed to stay under it. Honestly, 2 more pages would have fixed the whole problem.
The worst part about this ending is that I loved the author’s other book, Violets of March. Plus, Jio has another book that’s probably good but I’m hesitant to pick it up now. The same thing happened with Lucinda Riley, who wrote one great book and one so-so book, so now I’m torn on whether to read her third. So if you’re looking for an easy read, then you may as well pick this one up and read all but the the Epilogue. Maybe then you won’t be irritated like me!
Allison @ The Book Wheel