Book Review: The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

the bungalow

Rating: 3 / 5

The year is 1942, and Anne Calloway is engaged to Gerard Godfrey.  Although she should be happy, after all, she’s known Gerard her whole life, and was always expected to marry him, she feels like something is missing in her relationship and in her life.  On a whim, she follows her best friend Kitty to Bora Bora to serve as an enlisted nurse.  Romances between soldiers and nurses on the island are nothing new, and soon Anne finds herself falling for Westry.  While on the beach during a short break, they find a bungalow hidden in the forest, and begin repairing it.  To keep the bungalow a secret, they tell no one of its existence, hide the key, and leave each other love notes in the creaky floorboard.  When their time is up in Bora Bora, however, Anne returns to Seattle while Westry is deployed to Europe to continue fighting.  The story actually takes place in the present, with Anne reminiscing about the past with her granddaughter after Anne receives a letter from someone in Tahiti looking for information about a murder that took place decades ago in Bora Bora.

I read so many glowing reviews of The Bungalow, which has probably set my expectations unrealistically high. The book is decent, but I was hoping for something as compelling and moving as Blackberry Winter.   The ending was predictable, and while it is definite a feel good book, I guess I didn’t like it as much as I should have because I didn’t relate to any of the characters.  I thought Anne gave up too quickly, and her quiet and docile personality made her her own worst enemy.  There was also no reason to why Westry drew Anne’s attention, other than the fact that they both discovered the bungalow.  Westry played such a pivotal role in Anne’s life, but the reader doesn’t really get to know him.

I also wasn’t a big fan of coincidences that occurred near the end of the book.  They seemed like a handy way to keep the story flowing, but were abrupt and overly convenient.  The characters and relationships didn’t feel real, but while I was slightly disappointed with this book, I’m still excited to read more of Jio’s works.

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