I enjoyed Sarah Jio’s Violets in March quite a bit. I thought she created a gripping atmosphere and she kept me turning the pages. I cared about the characters and was fully invested in their story.
With Morning Glory, I also found myself wanting to know how the characters would fare. Would they find happiness?
We have two story lines here: Ada Santorini, a modern-day widow struggling with grief over a tragedy that took her husband and daughter from her, and Penny Wentworth, a young wife who mysteriously disappeared off Bainbridge Island in the late ’50s.
When we meet Ada, she has received an offer to move to Bainbridge, an offer she is not sure she should accept. She does not want to escape her grief; it provides her some solace and consolation. Yet she also knows that it has been two years, and perhaps she needs to regain some equilibrium. She heads to Washington to see if she can heal.
Penny’s story does not center around a happy marriage. Penny is young, and she perhaps was a bit too naive to marry the older, more sophisticated, certainly tortured artist, Dexter Wentworth. When he brings her to Boat Street, where houseboat denizens reside, Penny struggles with acclimating to her new environment. She also struggles with her marriage. It lacks the passion she thought it had, and Dexter’s increasing focus on his job means time spent away from his wife. When Penny develops an attraction for her neighbor, we understand. But what will she do? Fight it? Give in?
Ada, meanwhile, has moved into the houseboat where Penny and Dexter lived. She stumbles across a box that Penny left behind, one that holds various mementos. Ada becomes curious and wants to know more about Penny. When she inquires, she learns that Penny disappeared one night, but that’s all she learns. Her neighbors clam up, refusing to parse out additional information.
Like Penny, Ada finds herself attracted to a neighbor. And like Penny, she needs to make peace with her life in order to open herself up to this man.
There are some plot twists, and we do learn the truth of what happened to Penny. Perhaps the ending seems a bit too tidy and convenient, though. There was one twist that seemed a little too “deus ex machina” for the rest of the book.
Jio’s writing is evocative and mesmerizing. You feel as if you’re on Boat Street yourself, and you feel as if you’re one of Ada’s and Penny’s neighbors. Both women are fully developed, although Penny is the more interesting and intriguing. Perhaps that’s because Ada’s story is just so sad. I enjoyed Penny, though, and missed her when she was off the canvas.
Too bad about that ending, though. It was just too neat for me.