The Bungalow: A Novel

( 53 )

Overview

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 ...

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The Bungalow: A Novel

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Overview

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 from the author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March, 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jio’s second novel (after The Violets of March) is a saccharine romance framed around WWII and the Tahitian island of Bora-Bora. A letter found by her grandchild in the trash spurs Anne Calloway Godfrey of Seattle to recount a wartime romance and the dissolution of a childhood friendship. Conflicted about her impending nuptials to Gerard Godfrey, the young Anne and her best friend Kitty enlist as nurses for the war effort. But once Anne reaches the beautiful island of Bora-Bora, she finds the other nurses, including Kitty, disappointingly man hungry. While Kitty becomes entangled in a dangerous romance with one soldier, Anne is drawn to another, Westry Green, an officer, due to a shared interest in a nearby deserted bungalow, considered cursed by the native Tahitians. Though the bungalow becomes the site of Anne and Westry’s romantic rendezvous, Anne’s cloying, self-righteous attitude, obnoxious behavior, and naïve mistakes in dealing with Westry make it hard for readers to buy their relationship. Meanwhile Kitty’s romantic entanglements harden her and ruin her relationship with Anne. Jio attempts to deepen her story with the addition of a murder mystery but an overwhelming profusion of deadening wartime clichés makes for a dull, frustrating read. (Dec.)
-Karen White
"The Bungalow is a story as luscious as its exotic setting. Ms. Jio has crafted a wartime story of passion and friendship, loss and mystery. It's also a story of discovery-discovering one's own heart, and of finding a second chance long after all hope is gone. You'll remember the sparkling water and yellow hibiscus long after the last page is turned, and will want to start searching for your own lost bungalow and the parts of yourself you've long since forgotten."
From the Publisher
Praise for Sarah Jio and her novels:
 
“Jio has become one of the most-read women in America.” —Woman’s World (on Morning Glory)
 
“Delightful and uplifting.” –Historical Novel Society (on Goodnight June)
 
“Linger[s] long after the last page.” –Romantic Times (on The Last Camellia)
                                                                                                                                                    
Eminently readable . . . a tribute to family and forgiveness.” —Booklist (on Goodnight June)
 
“Terrific … compelling … an intoxicating blend of mystery, history and romance.” –Real Simple (on Blackberry Winter) — Karen White, author of The Beach Trees
Library Journal
It's 1942, and best friends Kitty and Anne, questioning their staid suburban lives, decide to join the Army Nurse Corps for a nine-month tour in the South Pacific. Anne leaves behind a mystified fiancé, she but feels a strong need to taste adventure before settling down. Free spirit Kitty finds that flirting with soldiers is much more fun than nursing the wounded, while Anne falls in love with Westry, a serious-minded soldier. Anne and Westry happily meet in secret in an abandoned beach bungalow, until the night they witness a murder. Before they can decide whether to report the crime, Westry is deployed, and Anne fears she'll never see him again. When she receives a letter more than 50 years later postmarked from Tahiti, Anne and her young niece decide it's time to find out what really happened all those years ago. VERDICT This unabashedly romantic novel just narrowly avoids being sappy, thanks to Jio's (The Violets of March) deft handling of her plot and characters. Fans of Nicholas Sparks will enjoy this gentle historical love story.—Rebecca Vnuk, Forest Park, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452297678
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/27/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 313,955
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Jio is the author of The Violets of March and Blackberry Winter.  She is also the health and fitness blogger for Glamour.com, and her articles have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine and Real Simple, among other publications. She lives in Seattle with her three young boys and a geriatric golden retriever.
.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
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.

ABOUT SARAH JIO

Sarah Jio is a frequent contributor to major magazines, including Real Simple, Glamour, Cooking Light, andRedbook, and is also the health and fitness blogger for Glamour.com. She lives in Seattle with her family.
 

A CONVERSATION WITH SARAH JIO

Q. What kind of research did you do in order to write this novel? Both The Bungalow and your first novel, The Violets of March, are partly set in the past - what is it about writing historical fiction that appeals to you?

While the idea for this novel came to me very quickly and vividly, I spent a few months researching life during the war, particularly island life, before I did the bulk of the writing. I wanted to get the feeling just right. But, ultimately, the biggest boost to my research came from discovering a diary kept by my great uncle while serving in the Army in the South Pacific during World War II. His daily accounts of life in the tropics during wartime were fascinating and informed my writing. I only wish he were still living so I could share this novel with him.

Q. Are the main characters in your novels the most challenging for you fully flesh out, or do you find it more difficult to bring the characters on the sidelines to life? When you’re writing, do you ever find yourself more drawn to one of the characters than you thought you might be at first?

I tend to find the sideline characters more challenging, as I want their presence to be memorable, and yet not too overstated. So the balance is an important one that I’m constantly striving to get right. And, oh yes, just like readers, I do find that I am drawn to one character more than another. But, it’s pretty typical for me to feel “one” with my heroines. While they are not me, and don’t always make the choices I make, I see them as I would friends, and I love them the same way too!

Q. What are you working on now? We got a glimpse of one of the characters from The Violets of March in The Bungalow - can we expect to see any of our favorites from The Bungalow cropping up in your next novel?

Yes indeed! I have so much fun with this, and I will share that my next novel, Blackberry Winter, which will be published in late 2012, will also feature a character or two from previous novels (and fans of The Violets of March will enjoy knowing that they will get to see Emily and Jack in a very interesting new chapter in their lives!).

Q. What drew you to the subject of the war in the Pacific for your second novel? Did you have grandparents who fought in World War II?

I first became fascinated with the South Pacific when my late grandfather shared stories of his military service during World War II. He was always very quiet about his time there, as many war veterans are, but he shared just enough to pique my curiosity, which simmered over the course of my lifetime. Also, while beginning to research this novel, I discovered the wartime journal of my great uncle, who fought in the South Pacific and wrote, in great detail, about his adventures and challenges there. His journal entries (as I mention above) fascinated me and provided valuable information for the setting and landscape of my story.

Q. In the story, the little beach bungalow down the shore from the base becomes Anne and Westry’s private sanctuary. Where did the idea for this bungalow come to you?

It’s funny, I was actually looking at photos of my honeymoon when the idea for The Bungalow first appeared in my mind. In 2001, my husband and I honeymooned in Moorea, a little island near Tahiti, and we stayed in a tiny, thatched–roof beach bungalow (if you’re thinking luxury, don’t: It was open–air, so there were bugs galore!). Still, it was a magical little place (despite the geckos and bug bites) that holds a very special spot in my heart.

Q. The present–day action of your first novel, The Violets in March, takes place on Bainbridge Island in Washington state and the heart of The Bungalow takes place on Bora Bora. Do islands as settings hold a special fascination for you?

Oh yes! I have always been fascinated with the romance and mystique of islands. I’m truly drawn to them in fiction and real life, and if I can convince my husband, I think we’ll become island stowaways at some point in the near future!

Q. Anne Calloway, the heroine of The Bungalow, is an intelligent, thoughtful woman who grows a rowdy sense of Marine humor on Bora Bora. Is she based on anyone you know or interviewed while doing your research?

Anne is purely a creation of my imagination, though I did think a lot about my grandmother while I was creating her character. Like Anne, my grandma was a nurse during the war, and though she wasn’t sent to the South Pacific, I suspect that she would have handled the heat (and the rowdy men) with just as much spunk, self–assuredness and strength.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • What are Anne’s initial feelings about marrying Gerard Godfrey? What do you think of her assessment early in the novel that “passion is for fools?” Did you expect her to eventually come to a different conclusion? How did she change as a person throughout the course of the novel?
  • When Kitty tells Anne that she has signed up to go to the South Pacific, Anne decides suddenly to go with her. She says, “I needed to go to the South Pacific with Kitty. Why, exactly? The answer was still hazy.” Why do you think Anne felt so compelled to accompany Kitty? Out of friendship? Or reluctance to go ahead with her own wedding? Or do you believe fate had some hand in drawing her to the island?
  • What do you make of Kitty’s fainting episode at the beginning of the novel? Do you think it was staged, like Stella suggested? What were your first impressions of Kitty?
  • When Westry and Anne first meet, he says to her that “the tropics bring out the savage in all of us...this place has a way of revealing the truth about people, uncovering the layers we carry and exposing our real selves.” Did you find that to be true? In what ways?
  • At the beginning of the novel, Anne is jealous of Kitty’s ability to live in the moment – she initially finds herself unable to do so. How does that change after she falls in love with Westry? What do you think the ability to live in the moment implies about the character of a person? How does it influence Kitty’s actions? Anne’s?
  • What techniques does the author use to evoke the time period of the novel? The story takes place mainly in the past, but the very beginning and end are set in the present day. What does this framing lend to the novel? How does it color your reading of the part of the story set in the 1940s?
  • Does Anne believe what Tita tells her about the bungalow – that those who set foot there are destined to face a lifetime of heartache? Do you? Does Anne live a life of heartache? Does Westry? Or is there more to it than that?
  • How does Kitty change after she gives up Adella? Why do you think it is that she doesn’t seem to want to be friends with Anne anymore? When she explains the reasons behind her actions at the very end of the novel, did you sympathize with her?
  • Consider the female friendships in the novel. How do Stella, Anne, Liz, Mary and Kitty all support one another? In what ways do they fail one another? Were you surprised by Mary’s death? Do you think anything could have been done to prevent it?
  • Were you surprised by Westry’s behavior after Atea’s murder? Why did you initially think he acted the way he did? Were you surprised when the truth was finally revealed?
  • When Anne visits her mother in New York, her mother tells her, “When you marry, make sure he loves you, really loves you.” Anne is sure that Gerard loves her when she marries him – but does Anne love Gerard then? Why do you think she marries him? Because she loves him, or because of what she assumes was going on between Kitty and Westry? Imagine yourself in a similar position – what would you do?
  • Art plays a powerful role in this book. Why do you think Westry, Anne, and Jennifer are all so drawn to specific works of art? Have you ever experienced anything like this in your own life?
  • What were your impressions of the end of the novel? Was it the fact that justice had finally been carried out that allowed Westry and Anne to reunite? Or was it simply fate? Ultimately, did you believe in the curse?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 53 )
Rating Distribution

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(20)

4 Star

(22)

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(7)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 53 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Simply fantastic!

    Fantastic! The less I write about how great this book is, the more coherent and sane I will sound. Sarah Jio has a knack for pulling the reader into the story. She writes so eloquently that it's easy to picture yourself in the surroundings she writes about, whether its an apartment in an assisted living center in the present, a beautiful beach in a Pacific paradise, or a war ravaged hospital in Europe during World War II.

    This book brought tears to my eyes. It's not a light read, of course the subject material is no laughing matter either. I dare you to read it and not be moved and not be amazed by how awesome this book is.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2013

    Anne feels a little closed in by the expectations of her parents

    Anne feels a little closed in by the expectations of her parents and her pending marriage.  Wanting to make a difference and really experience the world, Anne signs up for the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific Island with her best friend Kitty, leaving her fiancee Gerald behind.  Once Anne arrives in Bora-Bora she gets the experience that she wanted but doesn't count on finding love, drama, a mystery, and heartbreak.




    Oh wow, this read had a little bit of something for everyone.  Anne is a girl/woman before her time.  She wants to work as a nurse but she knows if she marries Gerald her nursing degree will mean nothing.  So she signs up.  During WWII, many women were allowed to take certain jobs held by men and they obtained certain amounts of freedom because the men were gone.  But Anne goes above and beyond that... I mean... she ends up in Bora-Bora.  It was really refreshing to see her outside the mold even more than expected.  The drama was very intriguing and though I guess certain aspects, there were many more that took me by surprise.  This is a book where the characters change and grow; though, sometimes it isn't for the better.  I turned every page with anticipating and found that this story really stuck out from the rest in this genre.  Even when I reached the last chapter, I was still hanging on to the edge of my seat, not really knowing how everything would work out.  




    At the same time, I would say that this is a summer read and it isn't too intense in terms of sadness and tragedy.  If you are looking for a summer read, this would be your pick.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2012

    Good read

    Great book. I'm happy to have a new author to follow.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2012

    Enjoyable read!

    I really enjoyed this book. I loved the setting of WWII combined with today's world. There's love and mystery - a good combination and well played out. I don't like to give too much away so will just say I was satisfied at the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    A What a wonderful story

    Beautifully written. Great time period. The ending had me in tears

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Great read

    Loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2015

    Great

    Another excellent story by Sarah Jio

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2014

    Dont bother downloading sample

    This is one of those books that had none of the book in the sample...way to go barnes and noble

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  • Posted March 30, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    A Timeless Historical Love Story!

    A timeless and beautiful story in an exotic setting of wartime passion, mystery, love and loss, discovery of the heart, and second chances.

    Sarah Jio has a way of reaching in the past and connecting to the present time to find romance, mystery, intrigue, betrayal, history, love and of course, a page -turner poignant story which will allow readers to escape to the enchanting seas of the South Pacific.

    The name and the front cover paradise is enough to draw you into a serene island hideaway world, with a backdrop of lush tropical waters, and the simplicity of a thatched roof beach bungalow where two share more than one another.

    From love to war, for almost marriages, to finding true passion in Bora Bora (what’s not to like) with a blissful and romantic adventure with a solider (Anne and Westry), to a brutal crime – can these star-crossed lovers connect again some seventy years later?

    Sara Jio has impeccable timing as she unfolds the layers, one by one to connect all the pieces for a compelling yet passionate story of love. (It is never too late). If you love historical fiction, friendship, mystery, and love, The Bungalow is for you!

    Slowly making my way reading Sarah Jio’s books, pleasantly finding each holds a unique heartfelt story.

    Love the quote: “Marriage, my dear, is not suicide.” ¿ Sarah Jio, The Bungalow

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    I've read all of Sarah Jio's books and while I have found them a

    I've read all of Sarah Jio's books and while I have found them all enjoyable, this is the first whose ending I didn't predict within the first chapter or two. I am surprised this was one of her earlier works, as I found it to be more sophisticated than her other books. Anyway, I read the majority of it within a day because I couldn't stand not knowing what was going to happen to Anne. All in all an intriguing story, and one that made me look forward to the release of Morning Glory.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    engaging and hard to put down!

    engaging and hard to put down!

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  • Posted November 2, 2012

    Good book.

    I highly recommend reading this one. It kept you interested the whole way through. Kind of a "Titanic" love story ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2012

    Really good, quick read!

    Really good, quick read!

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  • Posted July 30, 2012

    I had to push through the first few chapters as the characters w

    I had to push through the first few chapters as the characters were so WWII cliche (right down to the names) and the dialogue was so predictable. However, I did get sucked into the story and overall really enjoyed it. A good easy summer read with a deccent story line.

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  • Posted July 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I have heard a great deal about Sarah and her books. I was del

    I have heard a great deal about Sarah and her books. I was delighted that Penguin gave me the opportunity to share The Bungalow with you.
    Synopsis:
    Anne and Kitty sign up for a tour of a lifetime in the summer of 1942. Both have studied to be nurses and decide to further their experience by signing up for a tour with the navy as nurses. Kitty is going for adventure and to get away from her life in Seattle. Anne feels the need to support Kitty her best friend. Anne is also engaged but not satisfied to settle down and raise a family. She discovers more than she dreamed on the island of Bora Bora. Will their friendship with stand the test of this trip? How will it change them?
    My Thoughts:
    The critics are right! Sarah is a great writer. I very much enjoyed the book. I got close to the end and could not put it down. Sarah’s writing has been described as life changing. I couldn’t agree more. I love a good historic story. I loved how the story developed what you got to learn about both Anne and Kitty along the way.
    Friendship is one of the main themes of this book. Anne and Kitty‘s relationship changes throughout the book. It is hard when friends grow and change. Have you ever experienced a friendship change? How has that affected you? I felt that Sarah really honored this relationship in the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    Amazing

    A true love story with a beautiful setting. I can't say enough good things about this book. It's a MUST READ!

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    I loved this book! It was recommended by Jen Lancaster (another

    I loved this book! It was recommended by Jen Lancaster (another MUST READ author) and I am so glad that I read it....I didn't want to put it down. I immediately ordered her first book "Violets of March" and can't wait until her new one is published.
    As another reviewer said, it's not a light read, but it is a fantastic book. You feel like you are actually in the middle of the story!

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

    LOVED THIS BOOK!!!

    I so enjoyed this book!. Sarah Jio is a great suthor Violets of March was also an excellent book. Cannot wait to read more from this author. Recommend to anyone who loves to read!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    A beautiful, beautiful story! I love it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Do not recommend.

    Thought it was pretty schmaltzy.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 53 Customer Reviews

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