The Last Tiara
In 1915 St. Petersburg, Russia, Sofiya Petrovitch trains as a nurse along with her dear friend the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna. And in the hospital, among the wounded soldiers, she meets the love of her life. Thirty years later, in 1948 New York City, her daughter Isobelle finds the framework of a tiara hidden in her late mother’s bedroom. All the gemstones are gone. Since Sofiya never allowed Isobelle to learn Russian, or told her anything about Sofiya’s life in Bolshevik Russia, Isobelle has no idea of the significance of the tiara. But a faint, decades-old clue leads Isobelle to a trail that takes her on the convoluted path to the truth.
Isobelle’s a strong, determined woman – she’s an architect in a time when practically no women worked in that field – who spent World War II working on a top-secret building project. She’s a dedicated, excellent architect, but her personal life is quiet and lonely. When she begins her quest, she has no idea that backtracking her mother’s tiara will not only reveal her mother’s mysterious past to her, but lead her to a secretive organization dedicated to returning art treasures to their rightful owners, to adventure, to danger, and to love.
Although there are a few minor problems with the book – specifically in the usage of Russian names and titles – I enjoyed it a great deal. As a Romanov junkie, I couldn’t resist the imperial tiara as a McGuffin! And the book certainly did not disappoint. Romantic and vivid, with an interesting cast of characters, fascinating historical detail (especially about the top-secret project during WWII), just a hint of magic realism, and an intricately woven plot, The Last Tiara is delightfully engrossing.