The curious story of a necklace connects two generations of women.
Nell Quincy Merrihew has always felt out of step with the Quincy side of her family. Living across the country from them seemed like the proper amount of distance. But when her eccentric great-aunt Loulou passes away, Nell joins the rest of the clan in dealing with the estate. To her family’s discomfort, Nell has been named executor of the will. Making things even more complicated, Nell has inherited a valuable and controversial necklace. While Nell had expected something elegant, the necklace is chunky, odd, and in bad condition from spending years stuffed in an old whiskey bag. Though family members initially deem it tacky, the necklace becomes far more interesting when they learn it contains a sapphire thought stolen from the maharajah of Baroda. The novel’s second storyline goes to establishing the jewel’s provenance. The necklace, brought back from India by Ambrose Quincy in the 1920s, was meant to be a gift to his beloved, May. But while Ambrose was traveling around the world, a tragic accident left his brother, Ethan, severely injured. By the time Ambrose returns home, he discovers that May and Ethan have married. Despite the look of impropriety, Ambrose gives the necklace to May and relishes watching her wear it, a jeweled centerpiece far more prominent than her own wedding ring. As the novel shifts in time, Quincy secrets and scandals are brought to the surface. For Ambrose, Ethan, and May, a painful love triangle begins to emerge. For Nell, she begins to feel the full pressure and politics of being a Quincy. With an expansive cast of vivid characters—from Pansy, Nell's class-obsessed cousin, to Louis Morrell, Loulou's sometimes-overeager estate lawyer—McMillan (Gilded Age, 2012) weaves a complex and compelling narrative that balances intensity and levity. Written with wit, compassion, and a meticulous attention to period and cultural detail, the novel is satisfying for those seeking a romance, a historical drama, or a rags-to-riches tale.
Family reveals its true nature when love and money are involved.