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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

The Jeweler of Stolen Dreams by M.J. Rose

Jeweler of Stolen Dreams by M.J. Rose

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publish Date Feb 7, 2023; 354 pages

Thanks to #Netgalley and #blueboxpress for the advance copy of this book for review. The opinions are my own.

FIRST SENTENCE: " I was eight years old when I realized I was different. There had been many signs before then, but I wasn't fully conscious of my abnormality until the afternoon I picked up a diamond ring off my mother's bureau and slipped it onto my pinkie."


Based on true (my favorite kind of historical fiction!) of the life of renowned jewelry designer Suzanne Belperron in Paris. All the major events and famous name dropping of the era is based on historical records of her life.

She had an unusual living arrangement - married as a young woman to a longtime boyfriend and they moved to Paris so she could pursue her desire to be a jewelry designer. After a few years their passion faded but they continued their marriage and affection for each other. Suzanne changed jewelry houses and was given free reign in the design of the jewelry. Gradually she and the business owner, Bernard Herz, fell in love and became lovers though both were married to others.

Designed by Suzanne Belperron in 1940s, a broach, a ring, a cuff bracelet

Suzanne became very well known for her unusual shapes and color pairings. In the early 1940s with the rise of Nazism and as Jews were rounded up, Suzanne, Bernard and her friends all began to work with the French Resistance to help Jews escape. Suzanne would take jewelry from the Jews who had it to sell, remake it or disassemble it and work with her best friend to sell it and use the funds to help Jewish families leave France.

In a second timeline (mid 1980s), Violine Duplessi works for an auction house and discovers a Louis Vuitton trunk with a hidden compartment full of beautiful jewelry. Violine has the ability to 'read' objects and feel their hidden stories and as she handles the jewelry she senses pain and sadness and is compelled to learn more of the history of these jewels.

The story alternates timelines and surprising family histories are discovered, there's a small mystery of people eager to claim the jewelry to keep the secret of Nazi thefts. The love stories are gentle and in the background (perfect for me), and the history of Suzanne Belperron is fascinating.


This book started a little slowly for me but after a couple chapters I was entranced. It's been a while since I read a WWII story, and even though the technique of two timelines is common in WWII stories, it worked well with this book.

There were a few places where I lost the family connections between the characters but that may be my failing more than the author's. I absolutely loved the two main characters - told mostly in first person by Violine but with inserts of Suzanne's meticulous journals. Those two women are fierce in their beliefs, and are shown to be strong in the face of their fears.

Although I enjoyed Violine's part of the story with the touch of magic/paranormal ability that allows her to feel stories, I preferred Suzanne's story. To me it had more substance, more drama, and the writing is so vivid and evocative, I felt I was right there in her studio and beside her as she worked with the resistance and shared her fears when her lover is arrested. Truly outstanding writing.

I heartily recommend this book for readers that like a solid historical fiction story, who enjoy fiction based on real people and events, and who want to read about women who overcome difficult circumstances. This would be an excellent book club selection.

Challenges tagged:

Historical fiction: 2/15

European Reading: 2/10

US Literary Escape (bonus for other countries) 3/51 (bonus 6)

Read the World: 5/197

COYER 1st semester: 12 books read

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