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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Wise, Heartfelt Family Drama a Rare Gem

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Family is complicated.  Especially if you're a Miller.  This becomes especially obvious when Helen Auerbach, the family's elderly matriarch, dies, bringing her three estranged grandchildren back together under one roof.  Birthed by Deborah, a mostly absent mother, Beck, Ashley, and Jake were raised by Helen, who "was more than a grandmother; Deborah was less than a mom" (24).  When Helen's will is read, the grandchildren are all shocked to discover their ancestral home has been given to their unstable mother.  Beck, the grandchild who has spent the most time doting on Helen over the years, is puzzled by her inheritance—a gaudy brooch.  Was Helen completely out of her mind when she drafted her will?

When a jeweler friend spies Beck's new bling, he's certain it's more valuable than it seems.  Like $10 million more.  Authentication shows one of the brooch's gems is actually the famous Florentine diamond, a 137-carat stone that went missing from the Austrian Empire over 100 years ago.  As much as Beck tries to contain the news, soon everyone knows about her stunning inheritance.  Not only are various government heads vying for possession of the diamond, but Beck's family members are wrangling to get their piece of the proverbial pie as well.  Looming above it all, though, is the very intriguing question—just how did Helen Auerbach acquire the Florentine diamond?  Did Helen's family even know her at all?  As Beck and her siblings search for answers, they uncover the shocking story their grandmother never wanted them to know.  In the process, they discover that money can never buy what's most important in life.

The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson brings together some of my favorite fictional (and real-life) themes—family, genealogy, mystery, and history.  I enjoyed learning about the real Florentine diamond (which is still missing), a subject I knew little about.  The characters in The Imperfects are complex and intriguing.  They're all flawed, with varying degrees of likability, which makes them feel authentic.  Their complicated relationships also seem true-to-life.  Plotwise, the novel remains compelling throughout, as Helen's past is slowly revealed.  As the Millers grapple with their everyday dramas, plus those of the past, and the tantalizing possibilities of a glimmering future, they learn some valuable lessons about family, forgiveness, and where true fortune really lies.  If you can't tell, I loved this wise, engrossing novel.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of the movie Knives Out and of The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), sexual content, and depictions of illegal drug use (marijuana)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. This sounds really good and, of course, the old lady is named Helen! There are very few of us in my generation with the name. :-)

  2. Most families have secrets but most of them are things you don’t want others to know. I like family sagas and inheritance is always a thorny issue.
    Thanks for the review

  3. Wonderful review Susan. I loved this story as well. There was a lot to like and I enjoyed learning about the real diamond too.


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