Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Jewel Box - Anna Davis

Grace Rutherford is the one and only Diamond Sharp, the 'It' girl of 1920s London, whose weekly newspaper column delights readers with tales of her nightly escapades: the dinners, the dancing, the hairdos, the fashion, the men... 

Caught up in the glitz and glamour of the day, Grace begins a passionate affair with charming, flirtatious American author Dexter O'Connell. Soon, though, she finds herself falling for John Cramer, the charismatic neighbour her widowed younger sister adores. Irresistibly drawn to both men, Grace discovers that they are bitter enemies. As she becomes tangled up in the mesh of secrets and lies that binds them together, she must try to find out which man, if either, she can trust.

From a glance at the cover this appears to be yet another chick-lit novel, so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be much more than that. Set in London in the Roaring Twenties when women were just starting to gain independence and freedom, this is the story of Grace, a "modern woman". She's the daughter of a Suffragette, still unmarried at the age of 30 and one of the lucky few to have a professional job as a copywriter. Grace is also the secret author of a society column in a newspaper, and spends much of her time visiting nightclubs and restaurants and advising women on what to wear, how to do their hair, where to eat out and how to do the Charleston. Yet deep down, Grace yearns for more than this. Flashbacks reveal that she and her sister were once in love with two brothers who went to fight in the Great War, the war that changed everything. Grace has resigned herself to looking after Nancy, her widowed sister, and Nancy's children, but the appearance of two very different men makes her question the life she's living. Dexter O'Connell has a bad reputation with women, but Grace is convinced that a little romance won't cause any trouble. But her fling could risk her chances with John Cramer, a solid and responsible journalist whom she could actually spend her life with...

This is a novel about betrayals, mistakes, putting others first, heartbreak, the Great War, women's rights, responsibilities, selfishness, hidden affairs, family secrets, risk-taking and so much more. Yes, Grace finds herself torn between two men, and she cares a lot about clothes and make up and, like any chick-lit heroine, jumps to all the wrong conclusions and tries to run away from her problems. If you're looking for something entirely original, then this may not be the book for you. But for me, the wonderful setting and the complex backgrounds of the characters in this novel made this into more than just chick-lit. There were some great twists and turns that I didn't see coming and I could really relate to Grace, a modern and independent woman who really does wish that she had a man by her side, but just keeps making all the wrong decisions. If you enjoy chick-lit with a difference or just a fun view of London in the 1920s then I'd definitely recommend this novel. 8/10


  1. I loved this book and have just passed it to a friend.

    It had everything, glamour of the roaring twenties, a will they wont they triangle, the war and the women's cause. Fab!

    thanks for the review and reminding me about this lovely read.
    Glad u enjoyed it too.


  2. Oh, I love the 1920s and I've not heard of this one. Thanks for putting it on my radar.