Review: Cinders & Sapphires

Cinders & Sapphires
Leila Rasheed
2013
Disney-Hyperion
ISBN 9781423171171

*Reviewed from galley via http://www.netgalley.com*

Rose Cliffe is a housemaid to Lady Ada Averly at the lavish Somerton house. As the housekeeper’s daughter, she seems to be a favourite of the master of the house, which doesn’t exactly endea her to the rest of the staff. But could there be another reason for Lord Averley’s interest? Meanwhile, Lady Ada must marry a wealthy man in order to erase the hint of scandal that has followed her family from their decade spent in India. But on her voyage to England, Ava meets an enchanting stranger and finds herself falling in love with someone she can never marry.

I wanted to read this book because it sounded very Downton Abbey-esque, although I don’t know if that will matter to teens. Lady Ada being in love with an Indian scholar was a nice twist on the typical unrequited love story. I also liked having the story told from multiple perspectives, as this helped gain insight into the minds of both the characters upstairs and those serving below stairs. Otherwise, the writing was a bit cliché at times and the story line dragged a little. Still, I’m a fan of historical novels and will probably check out the next book in the series.

Review: The Imposter Bride

The Imposter Bride
Nancy Richler
2012
HarperCollins
978-1-44340-402-0

When Lily Azerov arrives in Montreal after World War II, she expects to marry Sol Kramer. However, after Sol has a change of heart, Lily marries his brother, Nathan, instead. But an uninvited guest at their wedding knows Lily is not who she claims to be. One day, Lily disappears suddenly, leaving behind her baby daughter, a notebook, and an uncut diamond. As she grows up, Lily’s daughter, Ruth, tries to figure out exactly who her mother was and what happened to the woman whose identity she stole.

I had mixed feelings upon finishing this book. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding Lily and finding out little by little who she really was and how she found herself in Montreal in 1946. However, I did feel part of the mystery wasn’t really explained. At various points in her childhood Ruth receives packages from her mother containing rocks, with an index card noting the location where the rock was found, the time, date, and weather conditions. We never find out the significance of these rocks, if any. It seems an odd way for a woman to communicate with the daughter she left behind but we never know why she did this. Maybe I’m just not a fan of loose ends, but I found this to be a let-down after all the buildup throughout what was otherwise a highly enjoyable novel. The Imposter Bride was short listed for the 2012 Giller Prize.