With a title like “The Lost Jewels” I was expecting a fast-paced caper, but instead Kirsty Manning presents a sweeping historical fiction that is much more touching.
Kate is a historian/journalist who tracks down the forgotten past of stunning pieces of jewelry. She’s given a new assignment to examine and write about a collection of jewelry. As she begins to connect the dots, she realizes that these pieces are somehow connected to her great-grandmother Essie. Throughout the novel you learn of Kate’s deep personal sadness: she’s recently divorced her husband, just before that she lost a child. It’s through this new assignment that she sees the strength and resiliency of other women in her family who also dealt with great grief and learned to rise above it.
The thing I love most about this novel is the layout that switches between characters and periods of time. It’s a great tool authors have and I actually find that I’ve been on a kick of reading these types of books lately. You don’t just see the story through Kate’s and Essie’s eyes, but also through a poor Indian boy, a young girl living in London in the 1600s, etc. Even though Manning is switching back and forth between these characters she still manages to make their stories resonate, even though some are introduced only briefly.
It’s a great novel about growth and rising above challenges. My one critique isn’t much of one at all, I craved more of Essie’s story over Kate’s. Manning knew just when to leave you wanting more from one character’s story when she switched to the next. Overall, it’s an interesting read, especially for someone who knew nothing at all about jewelry making, how jewels are found and then made into the pieces we wear.
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