The Lost Sapphire by Belinda Murrell
Published by Random House Australia
This book is beautifully written and highly intriguing. The description in the book is perfect and I could really see the image in front of my eyes. The words definitely speak for themselves!
This book is a time-jump novel, and it switches from modern day Melbourne to 19th century Melbourne. The two times are mainly about one single place in Melbourne, Riversleigh, a beautiful mansion first owned by the Hamilton family. The novel begins with modern day Melbourne, where bored and not-excited Marli is having a holiday to Melbourne to stay with her father for the summer. She wishes she'd never gone to Melbourne, until her grandfather, Didi, reveals that Riversleigh is to be returned to their family, since Didi's parents and grandparents were the Hamilton family. Then things start to get a little bit more exciting...Marli decides to explore Riversleigh with another young boy, Luca (whose family has lived next door to Riversleigh for decades) and Luca tells Marli many things he knows about the Hamilton family. Marli has many questions buzzing around in her mind, and she is determined to find out some answers...
The time jumps straight to Riversleigh in 1922, when the Hamilton family still lived there and their servants were keeping the house running well. In this time, Violet Hamilton (who is also Marli's great-grandmother) is the main character. She's a cheeky and naughty young girl, and definitely not seen as a well-behaved good young lady back in those times. Violet was always going for illicit swims in the river, had an alarming and perturbing interest in the poverty-struck people of Richmond slums, and breached many other rules set for her.
Many complications arouse for Violet, including her lovely Russian chauffeur, Nikolai, being arrested, her school closing down temporarily due to scarlet fever outbreaks, her father being furious with her, her mother and two older brothers dying, her sister Imogen being torn between two handsome young men, Sally, Violet's maid's family being sick and poor and many others.
But there are also many happy times, including being able to publish an article about the slums in a famous Melbourne newspaper, organising a delightful Russian Ball, being able to enjoy herself talking to Nikolai, whom Violet finds intriguing and charming, helping Imogen discover who she really likes, raising money for Sally's sick and poor family, rescuing Nikolai from the police, meeting many brilliant characters and many others. There are just as many resolutions and happy times as the complications and bad times.
The time in the novel constantly jumps back and forth between modern day Melbourne and 19th century Melbourne. Although this method is incredibly interesting, and ensures the reader is never bored with the setting of the book, I found the time-jumping in the novel is too frequent and the distance between the times is too much of a contrast. I would suggest to Belinda Murrell not to use time-jumping that frequently.
My favourite character was certainly Violet Hamilton, because she was a strong character who believed in and persisted for whatever she wanted. Violet was also kind to people less fortunate than her, and this statement is proven by the fact that Violet sold her waist-length auburn hair for money to help Sally pay the hospital fee for her sick mother.
My favourite part was the final chapter of 19th century Melbourne, where Violet and Nikolai were dancing the mazurka together at the glorious and delightful Russian Ball.
I give this book a rating of 4.8 out of 5, and I recommend it for anyone who loves a beautifully written and insightful book which is constantly time-jumping.
If you love this book, you'll be very pleased to know that there are five other books by Belinda Murrell that are time-jumping novels. I've listed them and their settings below:
- The Locket of Dreams: Modern Day-1858
- The Ivory Rose: Modern Day-1895
- The Forgotten Pearl: Modern Day-1941
- The River Charm: Modern Day-1839
- The Sequin Star: Modern Day-1932
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Belinda Murrell
Title: The Lost Sapphire
Publisher: Random House
Published: May 2016