Book Review: Sparkles by Louise Bagshawe

I hardly know where to begin with this book. At 600 pages, which I devoured in four hours, it covered a lot of territory. And I’m still trying to recover from some of the crazysauce.

I loved this book. It was unabashedly crazy. I’ll use a summary from Goodreads to explain the thrust of the book:

Fabulously wealthy, internationally adored, the aristocratic Massot family owns one of the last great jewelry firms in Paris. But seven years have passed since the disappearance of the patriarch, Pierre Massot. With hope of his return all but extinguished, his beautiful young widow, Sophie, reluctantly declares her husband dead and takes control of the family business. But even as Sophie begins to look to the future, forces are conspiring to destroy the Massots—by unearthing the devastating secret from their past that Pierre may have died trying to protect.

Bagshawe’s sweeping story takes readers from the murky diamond mines of Soviet Russia to the cultural whirl of modern-day Paris, unraveling the mystery of Pierre Massot’s fate and the scandal and deceit that lies behind the Massot family fortune. Spanning continents and decades, Louise Bagshawe’s Sparkles is an addictive tale of ambition, betrayal, and romance.

But what really happens is:

1. A man fakes his own death.
2. Sophie is almost lured into a bad marriage.
3. Sophie is clueless that Judy, her husband’s former mistress, despises her.
4. Sophie’s son, Tom, attempts to run the company.
5. He’s 18 years old.
6. He dropped out of Oxford, convinced he could run an empire.
7. Tom’s grandmother conspires with him to take over the company.
8. Tom gets his father’s former mistress pregnant! (She’s 35; he is 18).
9. But she was really just faking a pregnancy in order to blackmail him!
10. Because she really loves his father, who has been dead for seven years. She thinks.
11. The father – Pierre – actually is a Russian.
12. He killed his father.
13. He ran away from Russia to Finland with a woman.
14. He convinces the woman, his lover, to pretend to be his mother.
15. Forever and ever.
16. So they go to France, and he kills the owners of a small jewelry shop.
17. And installs himself as the long lost nephew of the owners.
18. And his lover is his mom.
19. And so he builds this huge great jewelry empire.
20. When he returns, he kills some people.
21. He’s shocked to discover his wife has married someone new (more on this in a sec).
22. His son has learned from his disastrous attempt to run the empire and has matured.
23. Pierre’s “mother” – who has been in love with him all this time, finally goes crazy and kills him, then kills herself with the jewel-encrusted heel of a fabulous shoe.
24. Sophie, it turns out, is preggers.
25. The end.

How much did I love this? So much. It was just bursting at the seams with insanity – but it was so well written and juicy, I kept reading. Oh, and there were a few internal logic problems.

1. When the boy’s father disappears he is supposedly seven. Yet his mother is bathing him.
2. Though he’s seven when his father vanishes, when his father reappears seven years later, he’s eighteen.
3. Judy, the American woman who seduces both father and son, is described as being from Iowa in one chapter, and Oklahoma in another.

There was also something unique about this book in that the heroine, Sophie, was quietly religious. It was interesting to see a character be quietly – but seriously – Catholic.

The best part, for me, was the relationship between Hugh – a competitor – and Sophie. Hugh had been married once, and deeply loved his wife, but she and their unborn child died in a car crash. His feelings about it and women in general were actually beautifully rendered. His growing love for Sophie – and hers for him – was the bright point of the book. Though this wasn’t a romance, that part of the book was hands down the best part.

Add in a mention of Enron and it was almost the perfect book.

It was a lot of fun, well-written, and has a lot of heart. If you want a perfectly logical story, it’s probably not for you. But for those of us who don’t mind some well-cooked crazy, bring it on.


  1. I loved this book. Definitely my mind of crazy and it served up some well needed laughs

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