Sofiya is a young woman living through war in Russia in 1915, she comes from a family of means close to the royal family who is in the process of being deposed. She volunteers her time with the soldiers coming into the hospital and falls for a man with amnesia from his head injury. In this story we learn more about the politics of the time, the horrors of war and rationing and the royal family.
In the 1940’s, Sofia (as she’s now known in America) has died and her daughter, Isobelle, finds the skeleton of a tiara hidden in her mother’s apartment. Her mother left Russia and never looked back, there were no stories for Isobelle to understand who her father was or how she might have come upon this tiara. As Isobelle begins to search she finds herself quickly drawn in by a jeweler whose grandfather helped her mother sell off the gems of the tiara. The two pair up to solve the mystery of the tiara and just who Isobelle’s mother and father may have been.
Two timelines in historical fiction is always a risk, you run the risk of only being truly invested in one character and dragging yourself through the other plot. That happened to me here but interestingly about halfway through which plot I was more invested in switched. First, all I cared about was Sofiya and learning more about the Winter Palace and the war and was shrugging over the modern plotline then about halfway through I became more interested in Isobelle’s quest to uncover her mother’s history. I’m not sure why that flip happened but I think truthfully neither character was well developed, it was the plots I was most invested in.
This novel also suffers from something I hate in historical fiction, men who are completely put together and in control even in the worst circumstances balanced with incapable women who melt with emotion at any challenge. Isobelle was an architect making her way in a career before her time but was the most naïve person when it comes to the real world and relationships. I get that her mother sheltered her but her emotions were reflective of a teenager rather than a full grown adult.
That said, the history was phenomenal and the mystery took a turn I really enjoyed in the end. The twist was one that I figured out but I believe that was because the author laid just the right breadcrumbs along the way. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Read this one if you enjoyed Gill Paul’s the Lost Daughter or Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden.
Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.
What’s the most priceless piece of jewelry or family heirloom that you own?