3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Diamonds and Mildew by Marli Sieburger is a historical fiction novel that explores the intimate details of the Merlenes family through several generations. Sieburger's story begins in France in the 1800s. The setting travels to Brazil, New York, and Africa as it explains how the Merlenes dynasty became famous for all aspects of the diamond world from mining to creating beautiful jewelry. The book is divided into four parts, which are roughly equal in length and number of chapters.
Book one is titled "One Dream, Many Tomorrows." Most of the tomorrows involve characters who suffer a trauma. Just when I thought that there could not be anything worse, there was always more drama. Book two is titled "The Earth is Shining." This section starts with three pages of anticipation about which character will be the focus. I like how each character's story starts in the present, but the flashbacks provide the information for understanding the current situation. The book's title is explained in this part. Book three is called "Satin, Passion, and Tears." This was my least favorite section because of the confusing cast of characters with similar names. Also, the tone of mysticism is heavy in this part. Book four is called "Shadows of a Legacy." Catarina, the manipulating matriarch of the Merlenes dynasty, uses every means possible to ensure her legacy. She does cast a large shadow.
An appropriate metaphor is used by the author that compares the family's journey to that of being on a carousel. "It doesn't stop; it just keeps making another turn." The metaphor also helps to explain two of the themes of this book: history repeats itself and people do not learn from their mistakes. Illicit affairs, arranged murders, and secretly conceived children are just a few of the tragedies that are repeated in each successive generation. Catarina, a main protagonist, is caught in a web of poor choices that causes a ripple effect.
The 565 pages of this book constitute a strong commitment. I found it entertaining, but it was not compelling. Profanity and sexual passages limit my recommendation to mature readers. References to different religious beliefs might also limit the reading audience. There were some errors, but they did not hinder my understanding. My rating is 3 out of 4 because of the errors and the tedious third section.
I enjoyed the author's descriptive writing style, and I learned to appreciate my simple life. This novel could have been published as a series of four books. However, after I had finished reading Diamonds and Mildew, I was convinced that the author, unlike the characters in her book, made a good decision, and she published it as one volume. Readers who enjoy a long, twisted tale about the pursuit of wealth by secretive characters whose lives intertwine and astound will find this a fascinating read.
Diamonds & Mildew
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon