Cartier's Hope by M.J. Rose

Publication Info: Expected publication date January 28, 2020 by Atria Books. Kindle pre-pub edition courtesy of NetGalley.

Summary: Vera Garland’s family is very wealthy. Her father was the owner of Garland’s Emporium, a very prosperous department store in early New York. As the daughter of a socialite, Vera was raised to be a fine lady of leisure, but she wants more than her mother’s lifestyle. Vera works as a reporter and newspaper columnist under the pseudonym Vee Swann. As Vee, she disguises herself as a common woman, so she can write about the social issues of the day. Children are working long hours and women are marching to get the vote. Charlatans fleece customers in elaborate ruses during seances. Newspapers publish gossip and salacious stories to attract readers.

Women working in journalism in the early 1900’s were most frequently relegated to fashion and society columns. Vera is determined to write more serious articles and exposes. After her father dies, she discovers a huge, shocking secret about him and another close relative that lead to their deaths. She decides to seek revenge against the sleazy newspaper owner who threatened to expose the men.

Vera’s investigation into the stories Pierre Cartier is telling about Hope Diamond in his possession gives her an opportunity to kill two birds with one very expensive stone.

Comments: I was drawn to reading Cartier’s Hope because of the story line involving the Hope Diamond. I’ve seen the famous blue stone many times at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. I’m also a fan of early 20th century America historical fiction.

I actually liked this book a lot more than I expected to. First, it had more than one unexpected twist. Second, during the first incarnation of The Brown Bookloft about 12 years ago, I was sent a very early M.J. Rose novel. I didn’t care for it and haven’t read anything by her since then. She’s obviously honed her writing skills since those early days!

I acutely related with plucky Vera Garland. I had many fights with my own mother, who overly valued societal expectations. She tried in vain to “raise me to be a good housewife” (her own words). I wanted more for myself, too. The book also made me consider the issues that faced women one hundred years ago–some of which we still face today.

Recommended for readers of General Fiction, Women’s Fiction and Historical Fiction (especially early 20th Century New York.

My Rating: 4 STARS

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