From M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author of Tiffany Blues, “a lush, romantic historical mystery” (Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale), comes a gorgeously wrought novel of ambition and betrayal set in the Gilded Age.
New York, 1910: A city of extravagant balls in Fifth Avenue mansions and poor immigrants crammed into crumbling Lower East Side tenements. A city where the suffrage movement is growing stronger every day, but most women reporters are still delegated to the fashion and lifestyle pages. But Vera Garland is set on making her mark in a man’s world of serious journalism.
Shortly after the world-famous Hope Diamond is acquired for a record sum, Vera begins investigating rumors about schemes by its new owner, jeweler Pierre Cartier, to manipulate its value. Vera is determined to find the truth behind the notorious diamond and its legendary curses—even better when the expose puts her in the same orbit as a magazine publisher whose blackmailing schemes led to the death of her beloved father.
Appealing to a young Russian jeweler for help, Vera is unprepared when she begins falling in love with him…and even more unprepared when she gets caught up in his deceptions and finds herself at risk of losing all she has worked so hard to achieve.
Set against the backdrop of New York’s glitter and grit, of ruthless men and the atrocities they commit in the pursuit of power, this enthralling historical novel explores our very human needs for love, retribution—and to pursue one’s destiny, regardless of the cost.
Diamonds, scientists say, are the world’s hardest material. And yet, like a heart, a diamond can break. When I was a reporter covering a story about the Hope Diamond, my research taught me that often a gem cutter will study a major stone for months, deciding where to strike, as cleaving is a precise and risky effort. If the jeweler misjudges, he can destroy the stone.
As a woman, I’ve learned the same thing. A single mistake can destroy a relationship.
Standing here in the cold, staring at the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel, I try to pretend that I’m not really crying. That what look like tears are simply snowflakes melting on my cheeks.
But that’s just another lie. And I promised myself that I was done with lies. Untruths, whether by omission or commission, are how I got here—a place I never wanted to be and from which I am trying to escape.
For weeks and weeks, my sadness has felt oddly comforting. A proof of love. A reminder that even if I have lost that love, I did have it once. And now the time has come to fight for it. But am I willing to risk what is left of my pride? Willing to risk another failure even if there’s little—if any—chance of winning that love back?
My father once said, The fight is all. But so far, this fight has laid me bare, stripped me of all pretense, and broken my heart.
The snow is falling harder now, dressing the marble woman in the fountain in a gown of white. As more snow catches in my eyelashes and hair and lands on my face, melting and mixing with the tears, I wonder if my father was right.
This spot on Fifth Avenue between Fifty-eighth and Fifty-ninth Streets has been the epicenter of my city and so many moments in my life. To my right is Central Park, all dusted with white on this early evening—the living, breathing forest that has always been my refuge. To my left, across the avenue and down a block, is my father’s department store on Fifty-seventh Street, designed by my uncle and right in the heart of New York City’s newest fashionable uptown shopping district.
If I look downtown a bit farther and west, if I crane my neck just a little, I can see the rooftop gables of the building that houses Pierre Cartier’s jewelry shop.
But back to the fountain. In 1890, my father brought me to its installation ceremony. I was twelve years old. My sister was sick with a sore throat, so I was alone with him. My father spent a lot of time with me and always talked to me like an adult. He shared information about all the subjects he found interesting. The way fashions changed, how clothes and shoes and fabrics and jewelry were designed and made. How desire fueled commerce. What made someone want to buy something they didn’t need.
He was a great reader, especially of history. Ancient Rome, Egypt, Greece, the Renaissance, and seventeenth-century France were some of his favorite periods. And as we stood with the crowd that night with the fireworks bursting overhead, he told me the story of the woman whose form graced the fountain. Elpis, a symbol of hope.
“The first woman created by Zeus, Pandora,” he said, “had a jar—I believe it was a jar, not a box—that contained all the wonders of the world: life, renewal, love, generosity, wisdom, and empathy. Warned not to open the jar by Zeus, Pandora did her best to obey but ultimately gave in to temptation.” Here he stopped to give me a stern look to warn me about little girls who did not obey their fathers. “When she opened the jar, all the elements flew out. Beauty is limited, our health breaks down, our love fades. And we die. But it turned out that one thing remained in the jar after all—the one thing left to all of us when we face the tragedies in our lives. A tiny creature named Elpis, also known as hope. She stayed in Pandora’s jar so that she could revisit us after all our miseries. So that we can hope that the hard times will get better, hope that grief will soften, hope that terrors will quell.”
As I remember this moment, my heart aches. How much love can you lose and still have hope that you will ever find love again? And if you do find it, how can you know that it will last for any time at all?
My father had tried to teach me that love, no matter how short-lived, was worth fighting for. Worth savoring. He always spoke of it with a wistfulness I never quite understood. For years, I wondered where his sadness came from. A successful businessman, father, and husband, he didn’t seem to have had any tragedy in his life.
But that was a feeling. Not a fact. I am a reporter; I know how important the facts are. And when I discovered the facts of my father’s past, they changed my life.
One of those facts was that my father had, indeed, endured a terrible tragedy a few weeks before he died. Another fact was that he had tried to hide it from me, as well as from my sister and my mother. Yet another fact was that in Paris in 1909, C. H. Rosenau sold a forty-five-carat blue diamond to Pierre Cartier, grandson of the French jeweler who had founded the world-renowned maison. It is another fact that in January 1911, Evalyn Walsh McLean and her husband purchased that same stone from Cartier.
Between those facts is a tale rich with revenge, robberies, myths, curses, psychics, lost fortunes, outright lies, murder, and heartache. And just a few months ago, it became my job as an investigative journalist to look at all the different facets of the story of the diamond originally known as the French Blue—but now known as the Hope—for a weekly magazine called the Gotham Gazette.
During the course of my probing, questioning, and reporting, I learned many things about history, power, jewelers, society, wealth, passion, greed, and love.
I started out the investigation, ironically, feeling quite hopeless myself, having lived a life that was dark and dreary. It’s been a long and circuitous route to come to the end of the investigation. But therein lies my tale. A story that will come to its conclusion one way or another tonight and will very possibly change the direction the rest of my life will take.
My father told me to hold on to love even when the world around me tried to snatch it away. And I have. I’ve held tightly to its promise all these long months. I’ve imagined it wrapped up in some of the navy velvet my father’s emporium sells on the second floor. Tied with a magenta ribbon from the notions department.
And tonight I will find out if I can unwrap it or if I will need to walk into the park across the street and find a soft patch of ground in which to bury it once and for all.
Like my father, I wouldn’t give up what I’ve had for anything. But oh, how I hope that I’ll find it again. When you fall in love, you aren’t smart. You don’t weigh the logic of your actions. You don’t look at the man to whom you are giving your heart with the cold precision of a diamond cutter examining that rough stone. At least, I didn’t. And so the man I’d given my heart to turned out to be a thief.
New York Times bestselling author M.J. Rose grew up in New York City exploring the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum and the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the founder of the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz.com and cofounder of 1001DarkNights.com She lives in Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.
"Rose's latest stand-alone is a Gilded Age gem highlighting social injustices and an ahead-of-her-time woman's resolve to make a difference. Rose's elegant narrative and timely dialog express her characters' humanity and inhumanities, while her research and attention to every detail occasionally make it difficult to separate facts from fiction. A must-read for lovers of atmospheric historical fiction." —Library Journal (Starred Review)
"MJ Rose’s latest encapsulates everything I love about historical fiction: a heroine whose journey is as timely today as it is in the 1910s, a glamorous setting that perfectly melds fact and fiction into an unputdownable tale, and at the sparkling center of it all: New York City. A true gem by an author at the top of her game." —Fiona Davis, nationally bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls
"M.J. Rose soars with Cartier’s Hope, a heady tale of romance, intrigue and empowerment. The contrasting poverty and wealth of turn of the century New York make for a vivid backdrop for the story of Vera, a journalist determined to go beyond the confines imposed on women in her field and learn the truth about the Hope Diamond while confronting her own dark past. Readers will root for journalist Vera on her page-turning quest for the truths that are both intimate and universal. Brava!" —Pam Jenoff,New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
“From the very first page, Cartier’s Hope plunges the reader into the fascinating world of New York jewelers, journalists, and high society at the dawn of the Gilded Age. With her signature elegance and attention to detail, M.J. Rose weaves a twisting tale of greed, revenge, and masked identities that put love and lives at risk. A fast-paced historical novel that shines with as much intrigue and mystery as the Hope Diamond itself.” —Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of Sold on a Monday and The Edge of Lost
"A fast-paced tale of secret identities set against the glamorous backdrop of New York's high society, Cartier's Hope sparkles with intrigue, romance, and passion, and surprises with an inspiring journalist heroine whose desire to break free of society's constraints and shed light on injustice is timely, relevant, and sure to resonate with readers. Vera's quest for the truth leads the reader deep into the mysteries surrounding one of the world's most famous jewels--and ends with a shocking twist you won't see coming. Unputdownable!" --Laura Kamoie, New York Times bestselling author of My Dear Hamilton
“Nobody conjures up historical mystery like MJ Rose, and this brilliant, absorbing novel has it all. From its utterly convincing setting in early 20th-century New York City, to the determined, marvelously drawn journalist whose quest for justice sets the story in motion, to the page-turning mystery surrounding the legendary Hope Diamond, Cartier’s Hope immerses readers in an unforgettable world that beguiles to the final page. Rose proves once again that her superb storytelling and powerful prose are second to none." —Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of The Golden Hour
“Rose's newest title is complex and compelling, with many threads of history, plot, and character that weave together into a bold, satisfying tapestry. . . . Smart, fierce, lovely, and intricate.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“In M.J. Rose's hands, the period of time in which Pierre Cartier had ownership of this legendary diamond becomes a fascinating story about family secrets, a woman's place in the world, and what's really true. Cartier’s Hope will transport you to the Gilded Age of 1910s New York City and seduce you with its charm.” —POPSUGAR
“Vivid. . . .The narrative cleverly explores highlights of early 20th-century history and heaps on plenty of intrigue. Rose irresistibly combines elements of mystery, romance, and historical events in this memorable novel.” —Publishers Weekly
“The mix of history with compelling characters both real and fictional is the true priceless treasure in this beautifully written novel.” —Associated Press
Praise for Tiffany Blues
“A lush, romantic historical mystery with a unique setting. Tiffany Blues explores an interesting lost bit of American history and gives us a heroine to root for."— Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone
“A fascinating novel about a young, struggling artist mentored by the celebrated jeweler and stained-glass creator Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany Blues brings together an enchanting glimpse of Jazz Age New York and an inspired fictional story about Jenny Bell and the terrible secret she's hiding.”— Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World
“Rose’s talent for delivering believable characters and plot shines in her latest novel set in the wondrous world of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Readers who devour well-researched novels brimming over with vibrant details that allow them to feel part of the story are in for a treat and the jaw-dropping climax will have them enthralled.”— RT Book Reviews
“Rose (The Library of Light and Shadow) keeps readers spellbound with her skillful first-person narration, a tightly paced plot, and authentic details that vividly capture the Roaring Twenties, with a touch of Gatsby-esque flavor and opulence and a research-rich mix of facts and fiction. VERDICT: This fast-paced mystery, star-crossed romance, and love letter to Louis Comfort Tiffany will captivate Rose’s many fans and readers of 20th-century historical fiction.”— Library Journal (starred review)
“Rose steps away from the magical elements that defined her recent titles and instead brings to life the enchanted setting of Laurelton Hall, its artist's colony, and the vibrant backdrop of New York's Roaring Twenties, applying her typical intricate plotting, sensuous descriptions, and abundant skill in blending fact, fiction, and a broad cast of distinctive characters to captivating effect. A lush, mesmerizing story.”—Kirkus Reviews
"A glitzy Jazz Age story but one with a noirish current of darkness running throughout . . . Written with a good eye for character and period detail."—Booklist