Posts Tagged ‘Cheryl Jarvis’

  • The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Transformed Their Lives by Cheryl Jarvis
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 9, 2008 )
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0345500717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345500717
  • I had high hopes for The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis; the subtitle, “thirteen women and the experiment that transformed their lives,” intrigued me; I expected a tale of sharing, altruism, philanthropy and friendship.  Instead, I felt overwhelmed by portraits of entitled women who felt good about themselves because they let someone else wear (whether for ten minutes or a day) the necklace.

    The book is divided into fourteen chapters, the first thirteen each focus on one of the “Women of Jewelia” (Jewelia, pronounced “Julia”, is the name they’ve bestowed on this 15.24-carat $37,000 necklace).  Jarvis assigns each woman a personality trait: the visionary, the shopper, the loner, the adventurer, etc., then proceeds to expound on that trait and explain how the woman works herself and her personality into the group.  The fourteenth chapter, The Experiment, summarizes the time the women have spent with the necklace (so far; it’s expected to be passed down through generations), and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

    Priscilla Van Gundy, the wife of the jewelry store owner, has been labeled the loner.  Tom Van Gundy saw the energy and positive spirits of the women when they were in his shop negotiating for Jewelia; he agreed to sell it for a low-margin price on the condition that his wife be one of the group.  A few months after joining, Priscilla has already been transformed by her relationship with the women, she says:

    I am so grateful to be part of your group.  I feel so happy when I’m with you.  You have inspired me with your warmth, your acceptance, your joy, the camaraderie you have with one another, the way you embrace life, the way you listen to one another without criticism, the way you have welcomed me into your lives.  I now know the meaning of the word inspire.  It means ‘to breathe.’  You have breathed life into me.  Thank you.

    Within a year of forming, the group thought to use Jewelia to benefit the community, holding fundraisers for several causes, including The Coalition to End Family Violence.  Jarvis points out that in less than 18 months after buying Jewelia, they had raised more money than it cost to purchase the necklace, and:

    Astonished by the ease with which thirteen women working together could make an impact, the group found a direction:  grassroots philanthropy in the community, where the women knew the needs and could see the results.

    What distracts from the goodness of the philanthropy is the author’s insistence on describing the women as privileged, and focusing on their looks and their surroundings.  Phrases like “with her blond hair, deep tan, flat sandals and short, floral skirt, she epitomized the ‘California casual’ look”, “Maggie … displayed the hard body of a thirty-year-old … had opted for eyelid surgery and a face-lift”, and “… her clothes hang loosely, the result of a recent holistic diet.  From her highlighted hair to her pedicured feet, her look is polished and put together …” make the “Women of Jewelia” seem more like quasi-celebrities than a cohesive unit that has found a way to rise above their differences to work together for a common good.

    In my rating system on LibraryThing, loosely-based on Netflix rating verbiage, I give this book 2.5 stars, that’s mid-way between “just OK” (2 stars) and “liked it” (3 stars).  To complete the picture, 1 star is “didn’t like it”, 4 star represents “really liked it” and a 5-star rating indicates “loved it!”  I definitely like the idea of this experiment; had the focus been more on the fund-raising inspired by Jewelia and the friendships that developed (instead of descriptions of the women’s physical appearance and their homes!), it would have been a better book.

    Kath at Books Books and Reviews had a more positive take on the book, read her review here.  You might want to also read LisaLynne’s review at Minds Alive on the Shelves.

    The Necklace:  Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Transformed Their Lives will be published by Ballantine Books on September 9.  Click here to order from amazon.com; click here to order from your local IndieBound retailer.

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    TGIF!  It has been a long week here, with plenty of rain to keep us climbing the walls inside the house.  I’d like to say that I’ve been able to spend that time curled in a cozy chair with a good book (or two!), but, there was that wall-climbing going on …  Without further ado, I’ll report that I did find time to open several packages that UPS, USPS and FedEx were kind enough to deliver.  MizB at Should be Reading asks, and here are my Friday Finds:

    I received House and Home by Kathleen McCleary.  I’m going to read and review this novel in preparation for an author blog tour coordinated by Lisa at TLC Book Tours; this is the first book/author I’ve promoted with TLC Book Tours and I’m looking forward to working with them – the tour stops at SheIsTooFondOfBooks on September 15!. 

    We moved about a year ago and I understand the angst of having strangers assess your house and ultimately make it their home; what makes a house a home?  Read on:  The story of a woman who loves her house so much that she’ll do just about anything to keep it.

    Ellen Flanagan has two precious girls to raise, a cozy neighborhood coffee shop to run, terrific friends, and a sexy husband. She adores her house, a yellow Cape Cod filled with quirky antiques, beloved nooks and dents, and a million memories. But now, at forty-four, she’s about to lose it all.

    After eighteen roller-coaster years of marriage, Ellen’s husband, Sam–who’s charismatic, spontaneous, and utterly irresponsible–has disappointed her in more ways than she can live with, and they’re getting divorced. Her daughters are miserable about losing their daddy. Worst of all, the house that Ellen loves with all her heart must now be sold.

    Ellen’s life is further complicated by a lovely and unexpected relationship with the husband of the shrewish, social-climbing woman who has purchased the house. Add to that the confusion over how she really feels about her almost-ex-husband, and you have the makings of a delicious novel about what matters most in the end . . .

    Set in the gorgeous surroundings of Portland, Oregon, Kathleen McCleary’s funny, poignant, curl-up-and-read debut strikes a deep emotional chord and explores the very notion of what makes a house a home.

    Cheryl Jarvis’ The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Changed Their Lives will be published September 9.  The premise of this non-fiction book is very interesting:

    Four years ago, in Ventura, California, Jonell McLain saw a diamond necklace in a local jewelry store display window. The necklace aroused desire first, then a provocative question: Why are personal luxuries so plentiful yet accessible to so few? What if we shared what we desired? Several weeks, dozens of phone calls, and a leap of faith later, Jonell bought the necklace with twelve other women, with the goal of sharing it.

    I received my first “graphic” book, The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story by Marian Henley.  This is a memoir written in graphic format, complete with dialogue bubbles and whimsical drawings.  I loved this book and have already posted my reviewThe Shiniest Jewel will be released for sale on September 15.  Here’s what the publisher has to say:

    At 49, cartoonist Marian Henley hasn’t committed to marrying the man with whom she has been dating for seven years. But as the Big 5-0 looms, she realizes that above all else she wants a child. Her story follows the heartbreaking ups and downs of going through the international adoption process; deciding when it’s time to grow up and maybe even get married; and in the end, it’s the story of a daughter’s relationship with her father, and how becoming a mother finally led her to understand him. THE SHINIEST JEWEL is a touching narrative, accompanied by Marian’s winsome drawings, that beautifully weaves together her realizations about the joy, and sometimes heartbreak, of building a family.

    I enjoyed The Shiniest Jewel so much that I’m ready to take on a few more books in the graphic format … any suggestions?

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