Secrets, Lies, and Sapphires

July 12 2017
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Last fall, I started a new job after almost seven years at my previous company. Every day for two months felt like the first day of school: Will my new team like me? Is there food in my teeth? How many ways can I ask the same question before my boss regrets hiring me? For the first time in a long time, almost everything about my daily routine was different, and it got me thinking about how one of the only constant things in life is change.

This existential foment primed me to quickly sympathize with Nell Quincy in the pages of Claire McMillan’s delicious family mystery THE NECKLACE. Nell’s life—carefully constructed to keep her frosty family at arm’s length—is interrupted when her great aunt passes away and the family gathers to divvy up the inheritance. For years, the Quincys have treated Nell and her mother like black sheep—so while her cousins are gifted cars, furniture, paintings, and the family mansion itself, it’s no surprise that the only item of the vast estate bequeathed to her is a necklace that has been stored for years in a Crown Royal whiskey bag.

But there’s more to the necklace than meets the eye—besides its being spectacular in a way Aunt Loulou would only describe as gauche (diamonds, pearls, rubies, and definitely the biggest sapphire any Quincy has ever seen). When the family starts to suspect the necklace is worth far more than its former storage suggests, Nell’s understanding of her own past—who she is, and what she ultimately wants in life—is called into question.

Told in chapters that alternate between past and present, between Nell’s story and the Jazz-Age 20s, THE NECKLACE offers many riches: snappy dialogue, family secrets, forbidden love, rich people behaving badly, and excellent whiskey. It has the stuff I loved most from RULES OF CIVILITY, EUPHORIA, POSSESSION, and THE NEST. There are lawn parties that would make Gatsby jealous; love letters from far-flung corners of the globe; good old-fashioned connection and longing; one truly manipulative and bitchy cousin; the romance of an old-money mansion’s days of glory; and, it turns out, a pretty sexy estate lawyer.

THE NECKLACE deftly explores how the choices we make play out in our lifetimes and beyond— and shows how satisfying it can be when a century-old secret unfolds gently and just right, itself an inheritance more valuable than the most priceless jewel in the world.

The Necklace
Claire McMillan

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