Title: The Lost Jewels
Author: Kirsty Manning
Published: March 31st 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Historical/Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
From the bestselling author of The Jade Lily comes a thrilling modern-day treasure hunt brimming with family secrets.
Inspired by a true story, The Lost Jewels unfolds an incredible mystery of thievery, sacrifice and hope through the generations of one family.
In the summer of 1912, a workman’s pickaxe strikes through the floor of an old tenement house in Cheapside, London, uncovering a cache of unimaginably valuable treasure that quickly disappears again.
Present day. When respected jewellery historian, Kate Kirby, receives a call about the Cheapside jewels, she knows she’s on the brink of the experience of a lifetime.
As Kate peels back layers of concealment and deception, she is forced to explore long-buried secrets concerning Essie, her great-grandmother, and her life in Edwardian London. Soon, Kate’s past and present threaten to collide and the truths about her family lie waiting to be revealed.
An astonishing cache of precious jewels, a mystery that spans centuries, consuming family secrets and a beguiling love story defines The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning. Jewellery enthusiasts, treasure hunters and historical fiction lovers will find much to admire in Kirsty Manning’s third novel. In my opinion, Kirsty Manning reaches for the stars in every book she produces and The Lost Jewels is no exception!
Kirsty Manning has taken yet another absolutely fascinating and almost unbelievable pocket of history to inform her new novel, The Lost Jewels. Filling in the gaps with well-informed speculative fiction, Manning re-imagines the events surrounding the shocking discovery of a cache of jewels in the Cheapside area of London. Not long after this amazing haul is unearthed, it vanishes. In the present day, a historian with a special interest in jewellery is called in to work on the case of the Cheapside jewels haul. Kate knows that working on this age old mystery will be the case of her career. Kate faces an uphill battle in unlocking secrets from the past. This fascinating investigation into the past leads Kate on a path to her own family, involving her great grandmother Essie in this remarkable tale of deception, betrayal and heartbreak. As the Cheapside haul takes on a life of its own, Kate is thrown into a collision between the past and present, with surprising results.
In terms of high quality historical fiction, no one in my eyes does it better than Kirsty Manning. I am a loyal and long standing fan Manning’s work, having supported her writing since I first set eyes on her debut, A Midsummer Garden. Naturally, I was very eager to read Manning’s latest and third novel, The Lost Jewels. As I expected, there were no surprises in how much I enjoyed, loved and absolutely adored this novel. I’m sure The Lost Jewels is destined to be one of my top 2020 reads.
Manning is quite the master at combined narrative and multiple timeline based stories. In the case of The Lost Jewels, this narrative traverses the present day, to 1912 and back to the 1600s. It is clearly an ambitious feat, but Manning pulls it off with precision and historical energy. I really love the 1912 time period and Kirsty Manning did complete justice to this turning point in history. I was utterly enthralled by the Cheapside haul discovery, what a treasure hunt with a difference! As The Lost Jewels is inspired by true events, it seemed to give this story another fabulous layer that pulled me in further to the novel.
Manning is an artful, comprehensive and dedicated specialist to the historical fiction field. The further reading section based at the close of the book gives the reader a very good indication of the amount and type of research that was conducted by the author to inform her latest novel. Everything from walking tours, museum visits, books, food references and video footage has been utilised in forming The Lost Jewels. Manning’s novel is believable, credible, authentic and well informed. It is also very rousing, encouraging the reader to take on an unknown snippet of history and complete their own little investigations. How inspiring!
In terms of the narrative itself, I couldn’t turn my eyes away from this one. Real life needed to wait while I remained with The Lost Jewels! It is surprising for such a rich tapestry of historical information, that Manning was able to keep this one so well tuned. Readers will enjoy basking in the historical transitions which are seamless, moving effortlessly from the present day, to 1912 and back in time to the 1600s. These are very separate locales in time, but the interchanges are handled with a sense of delicacy and precision, which is thanks to the deft writer’s hand of Kirsty Manning.
The Lost Jewels has a truly unforgettable cast of characters. I really loved Essie, she was a beautiful soul, with an incredible life story. The present day characters of Kate and Marcus are essential components to the overall puzzle this book presents, providing a guiding light to the reader. I appreciated the little touch of romance that circulated around the present day protagonists, which offset the story just perfectly.
Kirsty Manning’s The Lost Jewels is a glorious and awe-inspiring tale of larceny, adventure, time, wealth, family, love, sacrifice and endurance. Another blue ribbon title from one of our nation’s leading edge historical fiction novelists.
The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning was published on 31st March 2020 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Lost Jewels, Kirsty Manning, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Lost Jewels is book #81 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge