Cover Image: The Last Tiara

The Last Tiara

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The book starts in New York city with the death of Sophia Moon. Isobelle (her daughter) is left with almost no information about her mothers past in Russia during the revolution. Upon renovating her mothers room she find a tiara in a hidden cove in the wall. This begins her journey to learn about where the tiara came from and how it sheds light on her mothers past. The story alternates between the two women, mother and daughter. Sofiya Petrovitch, who lives in St. Petersburg before and during the Russian revolution. She volunteers as a nurse during the war along with her childhood friend, the Grand Duchess Olga Romanov. The story then jumps to Isobelle's life as an architect in the late 1940's. She knows next to nothing about her mothers past in Russia including who her father is. When she finds the tiara she takes it to a jeweler, Jules Reed. Together they unlock clues about the tiara and Sophia's mysterious past. 

I really enjoyed this book. There was a good mix of historical fiction, mystery and romance. I am a huge fan of historical fiction so this book was right up my alley. The ending was a little disappointing which is why I only rated it 4 stars. It seemed so rushed at the end and the "twist" of the story was not really much of a surprise.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley for the chance to read this!
With 2 different timelines going through this book, it should have connected with me more then it did. I loved the idea behind it, but didn't feel much of a connection with the characters. 
It fluctuates between the 1900s in Russia with the last year, the the late 1940s in New York with a woman architect. I am intrigued enough to see if she writes more about Jules, who belonged to a secret group that restores art and jewelry back to their original owners! !
Was this review helpful?
This is an riveting story with alternating chapters by a mother and daughter from WWI to the the late 1940's, stretching from Russia to the United States. Art restorer Sofiya Moon dies in a accident on a wintry New York street and almost a year later her architect daughter Isobelle  discovers a box containing a silver tiara stripped of its jewels along with a jewelers receipt.. Her mother had refused to talk about her life in St. Petersburg, Russia, so Isobelle tracks down the jewelry store and begins investigating the provenance of the tiara with the original jewelers grandson. Is there a connection to Fabergé? How did her mother get it? The arts play an important role in the story and there is mystery, history, betrayals and love. Both women do unusual work for their sex and have male mentors that help them, but Isobelle actually faces more sexism. One doesn't have to have a Ukrainian grandfather who also fled Russia in your family tree to stay up way past your bedtime to keep reading this story and then be sorry it is over.
Was this review helpful?
Mystery from WWI set in the years after WWII.  This is a story weaving fact and fiction from the Russian revolution   to the secrets of WWII and the early years after the war.  This is great mystery and love story.  It has all the ingredients of family  jealously, spies,  secrets, discrimination, and tragic wartime love.  I could not put it down as the story went back and forth between decades.
Was this review helpful?
Enjoyable double historical fiction.  Isobelle finds a beautiful tiara, stripped of its jewels, hidden in her mother's room after her passing.   The novel tells the dual stories of Isobelle's search for the provenence of the piece and how her mother came to possess it and of Sophia's life in revelutionary Russia when she acquired it and emmigrated to the United States.  Some suspense and romance thrown in for good measure, Isobelle learns many details of the life her mother Sophia had worked to overcome and long held secret.
Was this review helpful?
I am nothing if not a sucker for a romantic, epic historical story, and The Last Tiara does not disappoint. Alternating between the story of a young Russian aristocrat in the era of revolution and her daughter, an architect struggling to make her mark in the 1940s, it's a dual story of complex, compelling women trying to be more than society thinks they can be. And, of course, there's the tiara of the title, a relic with a slowly unfolding history that bonds the women - and the men in their lives.

Readers looking for a story set in the glittering age of imperial Russia aren't necessarily the target audience for this, which surprised me at first, but in the end, I actually appreciated that the focus remained on the unglamorous parts of that world, and then the time "after." By focusing on two wars and their aftermaths, the book avoids the trap of asking us to sympathize with decadent autocrats and instead offers us two interesting heroines, both with would-be careers and interests that set them apart. For the most part, the supporting cast is equally three-dimensional, although the closest thing the story has to a villain is sketched a bit thinly; that character feels like a trope more than a character in this rich world. Still, it's a gorgeous story and a beautifully emotional one that, fortunately, never crosses the line into maudlin.
Was this review helpful?
From 1915 at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to 1940’s New York City, this is a compelling mystery that unfolds in the alternating voices of two young girls. First is Sofiya Petrovitch who spends most days at the palace with her mom, the tutor to the Romanov children. Sofiya is the best friend of Olga Romanov, and they later serve the wounded soldiers together in the makeshift hospital set up within the Winter Palace. The second young woman is Isobelle Moon, an architect in 1948 NYC, who discovers there are secrets in her mother’s past when she uncovers the “last tiara.” This is a riveting mystery involving the Midas Society as Isobelle delves into the provenance of an historic Romanov tiara. The Last Tiara, by M. J. Rose, is jewel of a novel based on an actual Romanov tiara that is still missing today. The blue sapphires might have disappeared, but that is no reason to miss this stunning novel of love and intrigue. Five Blue Sapphires!
Was this review helpful?
This was a 3 star read for me. It is good, but nothing that wow me. 
Yes it has love, romance, history but in some parts it went to long. Just a good story.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars

I received a complimentary Kindle copy of this book from Blue Box Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you to M.J. Rose, Blue Box Press, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

This is my second book by M.J. Rose and also about jewelry, specifically a tiara, as one of the main characters in the book. Unfortunately, I wish that the tiara's journey was more fully developed. I wanted more detail about where it had been, how it had been found, etc.  It felt like the last twenty or so pages were a little rushed to wrap up what had occurred to the tiara.

The characters were somewhat more fleshed out than the tiara, but I wanted more character development and fewer descriptions of the bed linens, clothing being worn, and other heavily detailed parts of the book. The storyline was very interesting and would have been even better with some editing of the descriptions of things and the addition of details on the characters. 

I liked the book, but didn't love it. I wanted more and the author just didn't give it to me.

LUKEWARM recommend
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book from start to finish!
Sofiya Petrovitch is a 19 year old living in Russia at the start of the revolution. Her best friend Olga, the grand duchess, and her both get jobs as nurses to help in the war relief caring for soldiers. While there she meets a soldier who was injured and has no memory of his life prior to being in the hospital. As she helps him to find answers about himself, they both find they can't deny their feelings for each other. But as the revolution continues they are separated, the only connection being a tiara that Olga gave her.
Now many years later, Sophia's daughter Isabelle finds the Tiara after the loss of her mother and wants to try to uncover the mystery of her past that she never shared. 
Both women are connected to this tiara and are lead into paths they might not have taken because of it.
The novel moved at a good pace and had a lot of history, as well as solid characters. I liked the alternating chapters as I felt it kept me following them both as they were dealing with similar things at different times. 
Thank you Netgalley and Blue Box Press for an Advanced copy for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
This was a sweeping story about love, history, and secrets... I enjoyed it very much. It makes me want to revisit the Romanov history and I could help look up some of the jewelry mentioned in regards to Fabergé and thought the scene with the archivist in D.C. was a great touch. A wonderful read, and I highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
The Last Tiara, by M. J. Rose

The Last Tiara is a well-crafted novel.  It features two likable heroines, and alternates between St. Petersburg in 1915 and New York City in 1948.  Nineteen year old Sofiya, the daughter of an art tutor for the children of the Russian royal family, has become the friend of the duchesses and shares much of her time with them.  It is a turbulent time in Russia as the empire is failing due to social and political unrest.  In post-World War II New York City, Isobelle is a young female architect, unusual for that time period.  She works in a large firm and struggles against the “glass ceiling” of a lower salary and less recognition than the men in this male-dominated field.
The worlds of art and architecture are not that far apart and, as the story unfolds, there are fascinating glimpses into these worlds, as well as the worlds of art restoration, jewelry design and art imposters. 
The book is clearly well-researched. There are liberal doses of historical references, like the disappearance of the Romanov family, the use of the Winter Palace as soldiers’ hospital, the Faberge jewelry firm, Tiffany and Company in New York City, and the Manhattan Project (development of the first nuclear bomb).  I very much liked learning about these pieces of history as well as all the details about art and jewelry.  I am also a fan of the writing construct that alternates between two separate stories in different times, as it keeps my attention and causes me to look for communality and intersections of the two stories.
M. J. Rose very skillfully accomplishes those things.  There is plenty of intrigue and suspense in the stories, and the main characters are well-drawn.  The romances are believable, and there is camaraderie and clever repartee that evolves in the couples.
I had never read any novels by M. J. Rose, and this book has definitely inspired me to seek out more of her works.
Thank you to Blue Box Press and NetGalley for this digital ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book although I thought it went a little long at times.  The premise of a daughter trying to find out about her mother's past and the tiara's history was very interesting.  You pretty much knew where the book was going but weren't exactly sure how it was going to get there.  Writing was good and easy to follow.
Was this review helpful?
This book was magnificent. The story narrates two different timelines. On the one hand, in Russia and the other in the United States. Sophia Moon has always been a prudent person. She does not like to talk about her past life in Russia. One day Sophia suffers a terrible accident in which she, unfortunately, loses her life. Isobelle, Sophia's daughter, devastated by this situation, takes on the task of renovating her mother's apartment. The days are long and gloomy for Isobelle. Suddenly, she finds a beautiful tiara with splendid jewels. Isobelle admits that she doesn't know much about her mother, but this discovery raises curiosity. She intends to find the origin of this tiara. I loved all the research Isobelle is starting to do. The narration of this book occurs in two different timelines, in which the author reveals Sophia's perspective. I loved the mention of the Romanov family, especially the first-born daughter, Olga. It's from the stories that I took my time to read because there were so many details. As I already mentioned, the Romanov family is one of them, as well as the difficult situation in Russia. Sophia is an intelligent woman, courageous, and committed to her values. For this, she is my favorite character. It has been an incredible experience reading this book. I thank NetGalley, Blue Box Press, and AuthorBuzz for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A tiara belonging to the tsar's family last seen in 1922 surfaces is New York City in 1948. How it got there is told by a mother (who fled Russia and never spoke of it again) and her daughter, who find the tiara after her mother's death. An excellent read. Thanks to the publisher and Net Gallery for this early read.
Was this review helpful?
A Good Friend is More Precious than Diamonds
The Last Tiara is a special book: a historical mystery, a romantic epic, a tale of friendship and family bonds, and an exceptionally enthralling page-turner. The tiara in the book is based on a real tiara that is missing from the collection of Romanov crown jewels, as catalogued in 1925, and compared against an inventory from 1922. The real life lack of answers provides the perfect opportunity for M. J. Rose to step into the gap, crafting a stunning (although fictional) theory to explain the missing tiara. In the book, the tiara is considered to be the last one made by the House of Faberge for the Romanov family, prior to the Russian Revolution. It was commissioned by the tsar as a birthday present for his eldest daughter, the Grand Duchess Olga. Before going into exile, and later being murdered along with her family, Olga gifts the tiara to her only real friend: Sofiya Petrovich, the daughter of her art tutor. Sofiya carries the tiara with her to America, where she sells the stones to a New York jeweler, and then hides the metal skeleton in the wall of her bedroom, where it is later discovered by her daughter Isobelle, igniting the search for the truth behind the tiara, that forms the backbone of the plot.

The book is beautifully written, with rich depictions of the products made by the House of Feberge where Sofiya's lover works, standing in stark contrast with gritty discussions of the wounds endured by the WWI era soldiers that Olga and Sofiya work to nurse back to health, and conditions in Russia during the Revolution and in the gulags of Siberia. Post-WWII Manhattan, and Isobelle's struggle as a woman to gain equality in the male-driven field of architecture is similarly well detailed, from her traumatizing work at Oak Ridge, to her desire to make over the apartment she had grown up in with her mother to reflect her more modern aesthetic...leading to the discovery of the tiara. Every character in The Last Tiara is nuanced and realistic, provoking appropriate sympathy or disdain as the story moves along on a logical, if sometimes surprising trajectory.

I loved the way that M. J. Rose wove historical fact into the story, from the real work of the Grand Duchess Olga and her sister Tatiana in the hospital ward of the Winter Palace during WWI, to the arrest policies of the Bolsheviks, to the looting, cataloguing, and sale of the Russian crown jewels for money to subsidize the floundering government of the newly formed Soviet Union. Her adherence to a factual backdrop lends The Last Tiara the type of weight and consideration that is often lacking in less well-researched historical fiction. The fact that the tragedy of Isobelle's parents' love story was one so commonly experienced by couples and families as Revolutionary fever ripped through Russia, makes it all the more poignant.  We find in Isobelle a young woman who has been raised to trust no one outside of her own family, due to her mother's traumatic experiences in Russia, but also one who yearns to know the type of love her mother had for her father, and who desires to know the real reasons behind her mother's flight to the United States. Her investigation into the mysterious tiara skeleton will lead her to a love of her own, the answers she has always sought about her mother's past, and to something far more special and valuable than the jewels missing from the tiara. History buffs, mystery enthusiasts, and romance fanatics will all find something to love about this book, I truly cannot recommend it enough!
Was this review helpful?
When Isobelle Moon discovers a tiara hidden away in her deceased mother's bedroom, she finds a clue to her mother's past. Sophia Moon (formerly Sofiya Petrovich) fled Russia after its revolution left the country torn apart. She spoke little about her past, finding it all too painful to revisit. Isobelle still aches to know about her mother's past and tries to learn something about her mother's life in Russia by learning about the tiara. Learning about the tiara, leads Isobelle to jeweler Jules Reed, an elegant man Isobelle finds herself attracted to though she is certain he has no interest in her.

This novel is told in two perspectives. Interspersed with Isobelle's journey in 1948 to learn about her mother's past, is Sofiya's own story. Sofiya's story begins in 1915 and stretches through the years of the revolution. We see Sofiya become a nurse, fall in love, and learn how she ended up in New York City, alone with her daughter, the man she loved left behind. The two narratives play off each other, leaving the reader knowing some of the answers Isobelle is searching for before she finds them.

I was drawn in by the exciting premise of this book and my own fascination with that period of Russian history but the novel itself didn't quite turn out how I hoped. There is a lot of explanation in this novel. Isobelle spends the first few pages of the novel explaining her life. While the information is important, the way it was delivered was not particularly exciting or engaging. This is a common refrain throughout the book, especially from Isobelle's perspective. (Not to mention some of the little details that were unnecessarily mentioned, such as what they ordered for lunch.) At times, I was also a bit confused by the timeline of the book. One example of this: it was never entirely clear to me when Isobelle was born and whether she was born in Russia or the U.S.

As an architect in the 1940s, Isobelle has to navigate a difficult world. One of the ways she does this is by downplaying her femininity. Partly, this is to blend in better with her male colleagues and, partly, it is simply how she prefers to dress and behave. I liked this aspect of Isobelle, as I always like women who push against societal expectations. However, Isobelle was a hard to like character for me. Despite the courage, persistence, and ambition it took for her to be an architect in this time period, she is a very insecure character. It takes so little to deflate her and while being ambitious and persistent are not mutually exclusive from insecurity, it seems to me she would have needed a sturdier backbone to make it as far as she has in her career. Isobelle is also convinced, to a fault, that men are not interested her. After one bad experience with a man who used her, Isobelle is now certain that no man could want her for who she is. I can understand how this feeling may develop in her character, in her circumstances, but she is so convinced and this refrain is repeated so often in the story that it is grating. Even when it is clearly in front of her face, she refuses to see or even imagine that a man could want her. Her lack of self-confidence and value is depressing. Isobelle does also seem to struggle with reading people and understanding their emotions but this is something more inferred than outwardly stated. If this aspect of her character was built out more than her inability to know if a man is interested could have been balanced by this part of her personality making her complete lack of self-confidence less grating.

I found Sofiya to be a more engaging character, though, still very surface level as Isobelle's character is. Sofiya is young, only nineteen, and I think it's easier to forgive younger characters for not having as much depth or for focusing almost entirely on one aspect of their life, because there is so much still left for a young character to learn. Sofiya is naive and has been raised in privilege. She has grown up friends with the Grand Duchesses through her mother, who teaches art. As her story opens, Russia is already upended by war and she and the two eldest Grand Duchesses have become nurses. This leads Sofiya on her journey to love and eventually to a life as a single mother in New York City.

There is an interesting mystery underlying this story. There is much to learn about the tiara and how it ended up hidden away in New York with no one but Sophia (she changed the spelling of her name once she reached America) the wiser. Isobelle and Jules make their way down the trail of the tiara's history as best they can. In the end, all questions are answered. The ending felt rushed and a little too neat to me but all of the questions were answered which is the most important piece of a mystery.

In the end, while this wasn't my favorite novel, I did feel compelled to finish it. I was especially interested in Sofiya's storyline and had the book been written entirely from her perspective, I would have found it more engrossing. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the relationship between Isobelle and Jules and did want to know how they discover all of the tiara's secrets.

I would recommend this book for those who prefer light reads, where most of the action is centered around a mystery. Despite my criticisms, I do think this is a book that many readers would enjoy as a fun historical mystery.
Was this review helpful?
I got totally hooked by "The last Tiara " and I'm buying other books from M.J Rose for me and as gifts. I rarely get that enthusiast, but all the cleverness of the plot and the rythme of the story are truly riverting. Two periods are described with great realism, 1948 New York and Saint Pertsburg before and after the Revolution. The characters are so real with dialogues you hear as you listen, that I wish there could be a tome 2. The bonus is all the elements usually provided in time travel books. The fascinating world of jewerlers is unveiled as the crafted descriptions of bye gone eras provide the whole picture. This "tour de force" deserves only one comment "Bravo, bravo !". 
All opnions are mine, I received a copy from netGalley.
Was this review helpful?
Was a great read, I had a hard time at first trying to get it to the story with the two different points of view.
Was this review helpful?
I found this book as intriguing and mysterious as Cartier’s Way, and enjoy the unraveling of the mystery surrounding the tiara. I did figure out who the man was who was following Isobella before it was reveal d but I was happier to find out who the Russian on the phone was at the end. I love that M.J. Rose, gives the women in her plot careers that were hard to come by in the periods that they live in, but it sure makes me happy to see that the are so independent.  One thing I wish is that Isobella could have done was to tell one of the characters she works with to buzz of.
Was this review helpful?