The lost sapphire by Belinda Murrell
Random House, 2016. ISBN 9781925324112
Highly recommended. This is a charming historical mystery, connecting a young contemporary girl, Marli, with her forbears and their life in the 1920s. Marli lives with her mother in Brisbane, but needs to stay with her father in Melbourne for a period while her mother works overseas. During her time in Melbourne she discovers her family's intriguing past that is linked to an amazing rundown mansion on the banks of the Yarra, a discovery that causes her to discard the angst she felt at having to relocate.
Murrell links the history by moving between the two time eras, unveiling the past and giving meaning to Marli's investigation of her family history through her Great-grandmother Violet's story. This uncovers the history of the privileged and the poor in the 1920s, the post-war period still coming to grips with the loss of many young men, the growth of industrialisation, and the beginning of a change in the role of women and in their expectations. This unveiling is captivating, and there is also a revealing of the Russian emigres who made their way to Australia after the Russian Revolution. Love and relationships, marriage and family expectations, fashion, work, health and leisure are revealed in the historical context of the 1920s. A glimpse into industrial relationships and prejudice in this historical era are also enlightening.
I can highly recommend this to young readers who love historical fiction (older family members will enjoy this too!).