Josie Laird recommends The Alexandrite by Dione Jones - Cloud Ink Press, 2019
For Dione Jones writing is a long-held passion. Born in England, and often inspired to write about the past and changes to the English way of life, she has a Masters of Creative Writing and has won an award in the National Flash Fiction competition. Dione and her husband live in south Auckland with dogs and horses. She has two adult children and three granddaughters. The Alexandrite is her debut novel
A mystery within a family saga which stretches across a century, involving an aristocratic family in England and the escape of various family members and retainers to New Zealand. Pamela, Lady Scawton, discovers a body on her estate. Police find a half-completed letter addressed to her son, the new Lord Charles, and an unusual stone called an alexandrite. Who does it belong to?
This is local author Dione Jones' first novel, and it is a riveting read as we seek to understand the links between the Scawton family and previously unknown New Zealand connections.
The main protagonist is Pamela, Lady Scawton. At times, she can be overly aware of her position in the aristocracy. However, as we learn more about her, we realise that she has had a lonely and isolated life. We cheer as she learns to stand up for herself, especially against her arrogant son.
The story of the Scawtons is reminiscent of Downton Abbey with its strict adherence to class divisions. Kiwis are portrayed more sympathetically, although they are inclined to have a chip on their shoulder. And in the end - who does the alexandrite belong to?