Review: The Jeweler of Stolen Dreams by M.J. Rose
“My style is my signature.” - Suzanne Belperron
As an antique jewelry collector, there are designers and names throughout history that evoke certain eras; feelings; nostalgia and even, maybe, envy. Suzanne Belperron is one such designer. So when given the opportunity to read and review an amazing work of historical fiction, The Jeweler of Stolen Dreams, by M.J. Rose; I jumped at the chance!
Central to the story is Paris-based jewelry designer, Suzanne Belperron. Originally born in Saint-Claude, France, she is considered one of the most influential jewelry designers of the 20th-century. Belperron worked for the Boivin and Herz Jewelry Houses before the outbreak of World War II. Subsequently, she took over the Herz company, renaming it Herz-Belperron. Belperron pioneered a new aesthetic in jewelry. And, while perhaps the most important woman jeweler of the time, she is relatively unknown today except to serious collectors. She was asked once why she never signed her work, to which Belperron replied, “My style is my signature.”
|Diamond & Sapphire Bracelet by Suzanne Belperron|
So obviously you can see why I was hugely intrigued when I learned Rose was writing a book of historical fiction that centered around the intersection of WWII, Belperron with a bit of a magical twist through the introduction of psychometry (Also known as token-object reading, psychometry is a form of extrasensory perception characterized by the supposed ability to make relevant associations from an object of unknown history through physical contact with said object.).
Told through dual timelines, The Jeweler of Stolen Dreams is a tale of two passionate women separated by decades but united through a shared vision. One, famous jeweler Belperron who is fighting to protect her company and rescue the man she loves. The other, a young auctioneer whose exceptional gifts reveal a secret that endangers her very life.
Paris, 1942. Belperron is known as one of the most innovative jewelers of her time. Elsa Schiaparelli and the Duchess of Windsor are just two of her many illustrious clients. What no one knows is that Suzanne and her dear friend, American socialite Dixie Osgood, have been helping transport hundreds of Jewish families out of France since the war began. However, the war has come to Belperron's front door — the Nazis have arrested her business partner and longtime lover, Bernard Herz.
New York, 1986. Violine Duplessi is an appraiser for a boutique auction house who is summoned to the home of Paul Osgood, a scholarly lawyer and political candidate who aspires to take over the empty Senate seat from his recently deceased father. Paul has inherited everything inside Osgood Manor, from the eighteenth-century furniture to the nineteenth-century Limoges China. However, a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk is what catches Violine's eye with a surprising (but undeniable) hum of energy that can only be one thing: the gift passed down to her by La Lune, the sixteenth-century courtesan.
Since childhood, Violine has been able to read an object’s history and learn the secrets of its owners by merely touching it, but she suppressed her psychometric gift when it destroyed her last relationship. Why is beating at her conscious now?
“Only one thing saves you, and that is not losing sight of beauty.”
While inspecting the trunk, she senses it holds a hidden treasure and finds a hoard of precious jewels that provoke nightmarish visions and raise a multitude of questions. Who owned these pieces? Why were they hidden? Were they stolen? Could their discovery derail Paul’s campaign and their burgeoning attraction to each other?
So begins a search that takes Violine to Paris to work with the Midas Society, a covert international organization whose mission is to return lost and stolen antiques, jewels and artwork to their original owners. There, Violine will discover both her and Paul’s surprising connections to the trunk — and to Belperron, who silently and heroically hid an amazing truth in plain sight.
|Author, M.J. Rose - The Jeweler of Stolen Dreams|
What immediately grabbed my attention in the book, besides Belperron was the story of Violine. I felt a sort of kinship to her character that was, honestly, unexpected. I was fully prepared to (and expecting) to create a sort of "relationship" with Belperron's character. Her obvious love of jewelry, the visual aesthetics that I expected my mind's eye to conjure and with my obvious love of jewelry, it seemed a perfect fit. However, the mystical side of Violine's character and the use of her internal / external struggles drew me in. Her gift of feeling the "story" of each piece of jewelry connected with me on a very subconscious level.
"But things keep us company, too. They keep our memories alive when everyone else has forgotten and moved on." - M.J. Rose, The Jeweler of Stolen Dreams
I loved the way Rose wove historical fact and fiction together with a magical twist. And, of course, I loved the way the author uses jewelry to tell the historical story. I've often written myself about the history of the jewelry we use to adorn ourselves and the importance that is can hold in one's own timeline.
The dual timelines in the book immediately grabbed my attention, especially since the “modern” timeline was set in the 1980’s, when many of the people who survived World War II would have still been alive. Rose’s writing made both worlds come to life and the 1980’s timeline was as vibrant as the 1940’s one which is something I do sometimes feel is lacking in other dual narrative books that I've read.
The Jeweler of Stolen Dreams was an empowering, captivating story about the lasting impact a person can have and the intertwined histories we all share. It was a story full of love and magic that drew me in from the first page. It hit all the marks for me - magical realism, mystery, drama, jewelry, love and revenge from one of my favorite eras. The intriguing plot line held more than enough surprising twists to keep my attention coupled with the tale of the unsung heroes who worked and fought in the shadows for those who were unable or not in a position to fight for themselves was writing at its best.
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” - M.J. Rose, The Jeweler of Stolen Dreams
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