In this engaging story, told in several timelines, we meet Dr. Kate Kirby in present day. She is a jewelry historian and researcher living in Boston. Kate accepts an assignment to write an article for a luxury magazine about the Cheapside Hoard, a collection of hundreds of jewels believed to have been lost/hidden in London in 1666 and found in 1912 during a building excavation. The collection is currently located at The Museum of London. With photographer Marcus Holt, they travel to London, India, Sri Lanka and Paris to try and unravel the mystery. This is a perfect time for Kate to get away as she is dealing with loss and pain.
When Kate see one of the items, she immediately recognizes it from a drawing in her late great-grandmother Essie’s journal. Essie promised to tell Kate the story of her life and why she left London but never lived long enough to reveal her secrets. Kate fears she will never learn the truth about the fairy tale Essie had told a young Kate and her sister about seeing buckets of jewels pulled from a pile of rubble.
The book brings us to 1912 where we learn the story of Essie and her family. They were poor Irish immigrants living a hard life in London. Author Kirsty Manning brings the reader into the awful circumstances met by this poor and struggling family and the conditions surrounding them. With her father deceased and her mother lost in her drinking, Essie assumes a parental role making many sacrifices for her siblings.
Going back to the 1600’s, the origin of the jewelry is told and it is here where the author’s incredible research provides a wealth of information on something we all enjoy for its beauty but rarely think about its history.
While this book keeps the reader glued to finding out the mystery behind the hidden gems, at its heart, The Lost Jewels is about devotion to family, sacrifice, loss and ultimately love.
Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end. This book was inspired by the actual Cheapside Hoard which was dug up in 1912. Its mystery has never been solved. You’ll be compelled to check the websites and videos available on the actual collection.
Many thanks to William Morrow / HarperCollins, Edelweiss and the author for a copy of this enjoyable book.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: August 4, 2020.
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