Published by Touchstone
Publication date: July 4th 2017
There are few literary set-ups more likely to grab my attention than the wealthy family black sheep/outcast who unexpectedly comes in to power when the patriarch/matriarch dies. What could go wrong? Everything and that’s what makes it so delightful. Claire McMillan must know this because it is the premise for her new novel, The Necklace. Nell Merrihew has never spent much time with her mother’s family, the wealthy Quincys of Cleveland, mostly because her mother wanted nothing to do with them. So she’s as surprised as anyone when her great-aunt Loulou dies and makes her executor of the estate. Granted, she’s a lawyer so she’s suited for the task but she has not spent any time around her uncle or cousins and has no knowledge of family history. Beyond being executor Loulou didn’t see fit to leave Nell anything but a necklace that can’t be found and is thought to be costume jewelry as all the real jewels were left to her cousin, Pansy.
Once the present has been accounted for, McMillan switches to the family’s past, introducing Ambrose, Ethan and Loulou Quincy and the woman Ambrose loves, May. As the younger son, Ambrose has no duty to anyone but himself and so rather than helping in the family business like Ethan, he heads out to travel the world, leaving May behind. When he returns May and Ethan have married. Their daughter was Nell’s mother. Loulou’s son and grandchildren are the ones Nell needs to contend with, especially after the necklace is found and turns out to be an antiquity from India, studded with gemstones so big they look fake. Suddenly, everyone wants it and the drama begins.
I was happily settling into The Necklace and enjoying the yummy mix of past and present, tense family dynamics and mystery when the novel lurched into a resolution. Suddenly, the puzzle was solved. In one anticlimactic chapter. What?! I wasn’t ready, I wanted more of the snobby and entitled Baldwin, Emerson, and Pansy. How/why was Nell’s mother ostracized, enough so that she broke all ties? And what about Loulou—whose death was the catalyst for Nell inheriting the necklace that caused all the fuss? The present may have been neatly resolved, but this quick wrap-up left the past and some of the novel’s most interesting characters at loose ends.