M.J. Rose returns to the blog with a Gilded Age woman’s fiction with several twists with
This was a tale of two agendas and two cities, all contained within the 1910 confines of New York. With insets of social mores, family obligation, the glitz and glamour of the “high life” and the sordid underbelly full of back-room deals, exclusion, treachery and secrets. Into this arena we have the story of Vera Garland, thirty-two, single, wealthy and undervalued as a woman in society. But Vera has big dreams and goals, and a driving need to see equality and opportunity offered to all, not just men. To that end, she takes on a pseudonym, Vee Swann, and obtains a job as an investigative journalist, in the vein of her idol Nelly Bly. Understand that in 1910 – Vera should have been married with children, with no other real ‘interests’ than making a good home and raising said children. Women do not yet have the vote, conditions for the poorest in the city are dangerously unhealthy, and the road to self-sufficiency, particularly for women, is non-existent. But when her story (despite all the odds against it) is picked up and gains attention on the front page – opportunities open up in the most simple of ways – and she’s not willing to backstep.
Still part of the “favored few” in the city, she’s got an idea for a new story that centers on the famed jeweler, Cartier and his ‘over the top’ sales techniques. She knows that not everything there is on the up and up, and has the damage to her family to both prove it and avenge. So we enter the luxe rooms of Cartier, meets one of his assistants, Jacob, and discovers that there is more to his story and the story she was coming to write than she initially expected. There is insets about jewels and the Hope Diamond in particular, little tidbits that help to build background for the reader and Vera, and as people’s secrets and motivations are uncovered, the story takes on a whole other dimension in intrigues and ‘what happens next’ that I never expected.
From complete and complex characters with emotions and motivations that are easy to access to the solid grounding in the sights, smells and era of the story, M.J. Rose manages to transport and engage, keeping a complex series of sociological and personal elements running throughout the story, keeping readers feeling as if Vera was sharing her life in real time. With answers that she never expected, and opportunities taken, Vera is solidly juggling the elements until she finds her own version of an ending. The writing is stellar, the story intriguing and the sense of New York at the turn of the century is solid and easy to visualize. Another solid historic fiction from Rose – and I look forward to more.
Title: Cartier's Hope
Author: M.J. Rose
Genre: Family Saga, Gilded Age, Historic Woman's Fiction, Mystery Elements, Political commentary, Romantic Elements, Setting: American
Published by: Atria Books
Published on: 28 January, 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 11 Hours
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New York, 1910: A city of magnificent skyscrapers and winding subways, where poor immigrants are crammed into tenements while millionaires thrive in Fifth Avenue mansions. Vera Garland is a thirty-two-year-old journalist, fighting alongside hundreds of women for a place in society, only to meet hurdles around every turn. Most female journalists are delegated to the fashion and lifestyle pages but like her hero, Nellie Bly, Vera is a fighter.
When news of the Hope Diamond—a jewel whose infamous legends and curses have captured the world’s attention—arrives in the city, Vera is fast on its trail. She’s certain the fabulous jewel will help jumpstart her career but she’s determined to seek revenge against her current employer, a magazine owner whose greed and blackmailing schemes led to the death of her beloved father.
Set against the backdrop of New York’s glitter and grit, this enchanting historical novel explores the very human desire for truth, equality, and retribution.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.