By M.J. Rose
Publication Date: February 7, 2023
I’m always excited when M.J. Rose has a new book coming out. I became a fan when I read The Reincarnationist because I love the way Rose blends fact with fiction, bringing famous or little known characters to life, with a twist of magic. Magic and great historical fiction? How can I say no?
Here’s the blurb: 1986: Violine Duplessy accepts a commission from Senate-hopeful Paul Osgood to appraise and auction off furniture from his home. Among his possessions is a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk that belonged to his aunt. Violine finds a secret compartment in the trunk, filled with valuable jewelry whose provenance concerns Violine. What she doesn’t disclose is her gift of psychometry, the ability to tell an object’s history simply by touching it. She views this gift more as a curse, since it’s caused tragedy in her life that she’s still recovering from. Regardless of where her knowledge comes from, she knows she needs to confirm that the jewels weren’t stolen, leading her and Paul on a hunt through Paris, where they might stir up secrets best kept buried.
1942: Despite the Nazi occupation of Paris, Suzanne Balperron has managed to keep her jewelry studio open and her resistance work quiet. With her friend Dixie Osgood, she collects and sells jewelry donated by Jewish families trying to raise funds to flee from France. The most dangerous part of the work is undertaken by Dixie, until Suzanne’s lover and business partner is arrested and she must determine just how much she’ll risk to save him.
Two historical fiction timelines – I can’t ask for much more. Granted, the 1980s timeline could have been set in just about any time period, except that it made a lot more sense for people who had actually lived through WWII to still be alive and active in business. I loved that aspect of this book since in the 80s, I was too young to pay attention to anyone who had lived through the second World War. From New York, to Paris, to the South of France, this book covered almost all of my favorite places to read about. The facts of Suzanne Balperron’s life are so seamlessly blended with the fictional aspects, I didn’t question anything (but do want to learn more about her and will probably try to find one of the memoirs listed as a resource.) The powers passed down through Violine’s family are also really well done and, frankly, intriguing. One of my biggest gripes in “witchy” literature is how inherent powers aren’t well presented. There was none of that here. As always in Rose’s work, the occult aspects are naturally woven into the storyline.
My one complaint, if you could call it that, is that the denouement felt rushed. While I’d guessed the antagonist beforehand, it wasn’t really revealed – merely mentioned in passing as if there was a conversation that had been edited out. I would have liked a bit more punch from the ending and I still had a few questions about the emphasis on French privacy laws; although, that could just have been me not picking something up.
Overall, a great read and if you’re not familiar with the author, this is a good book to start with.
A solid 4/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thank you to NetGalley and Authorbuzz for providing the ARC ebook. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.