Monday, January 9, 2012

Julie's Review: The Bungalow

Summary: A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting. In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war. A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.  

Review: The Bungalow is another riveting novel by Sarah Jio. Anne Calloway is quickly a character that you come to like and you understand her life quickly. At 21 Anne is set to marry her local sweetheart Gerard in a few short weeks but some how her life doesn't seem so fulfilling. With a war raging on and with her nursing degree she feels that she should be doing more.

So when her best friend, Kitty, says that she's going to the Pacific to help the cause, Anne decides to go with her. We already know that this will be a life changing decision for both young women because who can go to help in a war and not change? What I didn't expect was the big change in their friendship. Although reflecting back on the novel, Ms. Jio did an excellent job of foreshadowing it.

Now the romance between Anne and Westry isn't a surprise because well that's what the book is about, but how their relationship develops over time is beautiful. Who wouldn't want to fall in love on a beautiful tropical island? I often wonder if romantic locations like Bora-Bora lead to romances that wouldn't normally occur and add in extra-ordinary circumstances (WWII) and you've got a making for love. Westry is pretty much what every woman in her right mind wants to fall in love with. He's a good soul and a gentleman plus he's handsome. Anne is immediately taken with him, even though she wills herself not to be. They begin to bond over the bungalow they discover together.

Meanwhile, Kitty starts to pull away from Anne by never spending time with her and also being secretive about where she's going and who she's spending time with on the island. Meanwhile, Anne is also being secretive about the bungalow and Westry. Of course this all leads to one of the big plot resolutions in the book. I was never really sure of Kitty in the book and why Anne felt so loyal to her but in the end I was happy that Anne always did the right thing and defended her friend.

While the mystery in The Bungalow isn't as taut as in The Violets of March, this time I was more caught up in the romance and the mystery was secondary. It's not to say that the mystery isn't a good one because it is, but I found the romance and the island to be the big draws for me this time.

Ms. Jio has a way of writing her novels that immediately hook you and you don't want to stop reading. I'm so happy that I found her via other book bloggers and Twitter. She is an author I will continue to watch and snatch up anything new she writes.

I highly recommend curling up with The Bungalow or The Violets of March as soon as possible. I promise you that you won't regret it.  

Final Take: 4.5/5

A special thanks goes to Sarah Jio for ensure that I received a copy of the book. (This of course does not influence my review or love of the book).



Dylanarman January 11, 2012 at 8:19 AM  

The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life.

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