The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

Title:  The Last Camellia

Author: Sarah Jio
Release Date:  January 1st 2013

Length: 322 pages

Goodreads  |  Amazon

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?

                                                                            ****

If you are also a fan of stories  in which the past and the present are intertwined, with enough mystery to satisfy your curiosity, and a masterful double narration that will be able to capture the whole from all angles, then The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio is the perfect choice for you. An intriguing and uncertain tale about two women whose destinies intertwine through the pages of the book.

New York City, 1940: Flora, a botanist from America will lead the reader through the past. During the Second World War, on one property in England, one person hid the last surviving specimen of a rare camellia named Middlebury Pink Camellia. Flora was offered = to infiltrate the house in England as a nanny, in order to  discover the truth. Out of sheer desperation, she is forced to accept the offer, but the story changes when Flora begins to fall in love with a member of the family.

New York City, 2000: We meet a garden designer, Addison who will tell us about the present. Her landscape design business is really taking off. Life seems perfect. She is happily married to an amazing and caring English writer, Rex. They are a perfect couple, who share many mutual interests,  passion for solving mysteries among others. Knowing about the mysterious camellia and discovering an old garden diary, whose pages point to something evilly hidden, ignite their interest, as they begin their search. But  will they also encounter the same danger? And will both women have the same fate?

The style of writing is simply perfect, the author’s skill to  intertwine the past with the present, two stories in one is absolutely masterful.

From the first to the last page, you are simply drawn to the desire to continue reading, slowly discovering parts of the puzzle, with which you slowly form the whole picture. The feelings of regret and redemption are almost palpable, and the power of secrets is simply too great to ignore.

But still, somehow I missed something in the whole story, like, for example, the villain stalking Addison is eerily omniscient, but there is no real explanation given as to why he does that, nor an explanation why Flora ends that way, even though there is a resolution of her story.

Nonetheless I have to say that the story is very solid and interesting enough to hold your attention, and I think it’s worth giving it a chance.

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