BOOK CLUB: The Lost Pearl

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Author: Emily Madden
ISBN: 9781489251343
RRP: $29.99
Publication Date: 20 August 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

The Lost Pearl is the sophomore novel by Australian Emily Madden and it was definitely worth the wait. It is quite different from her debut, Summers with Juliette, in it’s setting and it’s subject matter but one thing the two books have in common is the way in which they tackle topics that tug the heart-strings, and then slap you around with them.


Told in dual timelines we have a family mystery, emotional baggage and unhealed heartache, war, loss and new beginnings. We have two glorious settings, beautifully drawn so that I wanted to visit; though I should probably add that I’m a sucker for the coast and love a good beach.

I read an uncorrected proof so there were some errors, there is also some room for changes to be made to the story before the final print but I really hope that there aren’t. The story worked, the characters were three-dimensional and realistic and the story was captivating. On second thoughts, I would like an extra couple of chapters, that could definitely work.

The Lost Pearl opens in Honolulu, 1941 at the 16th birthday party of Kitty McGarrie, the younger daughter of a Rear Admiral. The party is an extravagant affair, alright for the high ranking but in a time of war, when the rumours are flying about when they are going to be drawn into the war, it seems like a waste. Kitty herself isn’t loving the attention and the fact that she only knows half of the guests. It’s the night she meets her brother Eddie’s friend, and fellow officer, Charlie Florio. Charlie has little in common with Eddie and feels way out of his depth the moment he enters the party.

We learn a lot about Kitty and Charlie throughout the book, the chapters set in 1941 are told from each of their perspectives. Madden takes us inside the McGarrie family to get to know June and Rear Admiral McGarrie with their social standing and ingrained ideas about class and status. The family were only in Honolulu because of postings; the McGarrie’s are from San Diego and June met the Rear Admiral in Australia after World War One. Honolulu hasn’t been home long term but it has certainly become home. It’s home to Kitty’s school, her friends, her life and who couldn’t love the glorious beaches. There is talk of June and Kitty being sent back to America, or Australia, with rumours rife about how long before America is drawn into the war.

Charlie is best of friends with Eddie, who is quite down to earth, but he doesn’t get it that easy with everyone. There is friction with some of the other men in his unit because his upbringing is quite different to theirs but he doesn’t let any of it faze him too much, he just gets on with what he needs to do and tries to let it wash over him. That’s something a little easier said than done when there are people out there just set to bait you.

Jump to November 2016, Sydney. Gran, Catherine Bennett, has had a fall and is recovering in hospital. She wakes to the concerned face of her only grand-daughter Kit. Right from this first interaction you can tell that the two share a very special bond. We don’t know it at the time, but it soon becomes apparent this is the bond often shared between the grandmother and first granddaughter if there were no daughters. Well, that’s the way I have seen it in my experience. There is a lot more to it in this case but that’s information that we slowly discover during the course of the story.

The Lost Pearl features a full cast of characters, all of whom we get to know well enough to understand them and the events in the book. We have two separate casts for Honolulu and Sydney with me frantically flipping pages to keep reading until I can work out how they fit.

Madden has woven the bombing at Pearl Harbor into her narrative with some intense research and a feel for how those left behind had to pick up the pieces and carry on. I can’t remember what I learned about that day from any sources but if ever I think of it the images in my head are from the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, and they were there as I read of the fateful morning in the book.

The night of her 16th birthday may have been imprinted on Kitty McGarrie’s mind and changed the course of her life, but so did the bombing of Pearl Harbor when she lost her older brother and her father changed the departure date for the female McGarrie’s.

Expertly woven we have a heartbreaking tale of first love lost, second chances, new beginnings and overwhelming guilt that stays with us through the years.

I am torn between wanting to steer far far away from spoilers and sharing some of the things that had major impacts on me in The Lost Pearl.

Catherine Bennett is recovering from her fall and heavily medicated when she lets slip a snippet of information about her past to Kit, who is a journalist and has her interest well and truly piqued. In the 75 years since the bombing of Pearl Harbor Catherine Bennet has shared very little of her memories. She doesn’t speak of her time in Hawaii or her family, and everyone learned not to ask.

One unusual comment is enough to make Kit curious, and eventually set her up for an ocean crossing journey to uncover the buried secrets of the past.

There were elements of the story that I did find a little predictable but there were also a few things that totally jumped out at me unexpectedly.

I loved this story, start to finish, it captured my heart and my imagination. I really felt for the struggles these characters had to face, and the lifelong effects they had. There was some pretty despicable behaviour that I would struggle to ever forgive, some uncanny coincidences that part of me wants to think it could never happen but there’s the other part just going ‘oh my what are the chances’. The heartbreak factor is high and you can’t help but feel for the characters enduring the tragedy.

A large element of the story is actually quite a horrific practice that went on for way too long, and I think the effects would still be being felt now in some families. It’s not the first book I have read that explored the practice but the more I read the more horrified I find myself. It is something that needs to be talked about because it’s certainly one way that I would hate for society to go backwards.

I could talk all night about The Lost Pearl, actually I almost have, but I think I have said enough. Go get a copy and read it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a family saga spanning over 75 years that will break your heart, but then it will slowly help you piece it back together again. Another stunning read by Emily Madden that is definitely going to stay with me for some time. I finished the book late last night but still found myself thinking about the characters throughout the day.

I would have liked a little more at the end of the book. I think it all wrapped up a little quick, with all the build up to the final scenes I feel we would have benefited from a little more of what came next before jumping to the epilogue. The fact that we didn’t get that just means that I can write my own version in my head of what happened next.

Thank you Emily Madden and Harlequin Mira for a touching read that will continue to resonate in me.

The Lost Pearl is book #42 for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge 2018.

Emily Madden can be found on her Website and Facebook.

The Lost Pearl is available through Harlequin, Angus and Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our lucky Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Lost Pearl so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

23 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Lost Pearl

  1. ‘The Lost Pearl’ by Emily Madden:
    What an emotional wreck this book left me; from its beginning til the final end. I loved this book with a passion. It was told from the heart. At times I hated it – only because the circumstances seemed just so unfair. Then I equally loved it and couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter.

    I won’t go into the story line as the Beauty & Lace review above tells it all. What I will say is this is a book full of warmth, true characters with real feeling. A book of passion, loss, war time tragedy, resilience, jealousy, heartache and ultimately unbridled love.

    The book made all the more special for me as my own grandfather went to war and it gave me an even closer insight into this troubled time.

    I am emotionally drained, in a good way. This book left an indelible impact. A triumph in anyone’s eyes. Well done to the author, Emily Madden and to Beauty & Lace and Harlequin Mira Publishers for making this book available for review.

  2. This is my first book read from beauty and lace book club and I fell in love from page 1.
    Felt really connected with the characters and was transported back in time to war days and the beautiful island of Hawaii .
    I loved the way Emily wrote the book in chapters in the past war times and in present Sydney time.
    The lost pearl gave a real insight into life and love and heartbreak during war times.
    Proved to me that love can conquer all no matter the challenges faced.
    I fell in love with the characters instantly and could feel the love,friendship,heartbreak and difficult times they faced.
    Would love to read more from Emily Madden and can’t wait for next months book.

  3. The Lost Pearl is a sensitive story of that which appears to be “lost ” and subsequently there is a thread which links the main characters — “what if ?’ Grief , misunderstandings, guilt all have their place in this story and interestingly, these interweave throughout the generations until through the efforts of a loving grand-daughter these “ghosts “are finally put to rest. The horrors of the bombing of Pearl Harbour, the grief of the mourners, societal cruelty and intolerances are delicately portrayed and there is ample opportunity for the reader to become immersed in the pain, suffering and emotion of those times. I really enjoyed the novel but, for me, the ending did not do justice to the beautifully crafted story line–although not left with any questions, I felt it just ended rather abruptly.

  4. I really enjoyed reading ‘The Lost Pearl’ by Emily Madden, a big thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin and Mira, and to Kit for unveiling the connection between the ‘lost pearl’ all those years ago and the pearl earrings, necklace, and bracelets her grandmother gave to Kit as gifts for her birthday every year.

    Reliving pre-war vintage Hawaii in the early forties was a joy, the life style young Catherine (Kitty) the daughter of Rear Admiral Conrad McGarrie enjoyed attending dances and parties held in the glittering hotels and ballrooms of glamourous Waikiki, was a stark contrast to the treatment of young unmarried mothers and “BFA’s” at Crown Street Women’s Hospital a world away in Sydney, Australia.

    Kit never knew the real reason her nan never spoke of her American heritage, or her life before she came to Australia, but Maggies words ‘what you saw was what you got with Catherine, no secrets’ echoed in Kit’s mind. With her investigative journalist hat on and her acceptance to the official seventy fifth commemoration ceremonies of the Pearl Harbour attack, her brother Ben sworn to secrecy Kit booked her flight from Melbourne to Hawaii.

    I was overwhelmed when I read the horrific depiction of the events that took place on the morning of that fateful December day in 1941, and the aftermath the Doctors, Nurses and brave volunteers were faced with. How under resourced the hospital was to handle the onslaught of injured and dying men coming through the doors, and how stoic both the patients and those that were treating them remained, when the scene surrounding them was pure hell.

    At the Veteran Gala Dinner Kit met brother Eddie’s girlfriend Penny, a remarkable woman in her early nineties who re-lived her friend’s sixteenth birthday party like it was yesterday. There she spotted Kitty dancing with Charlie, the enlisted sailor, even though Charlie was from the wrong side of the tracks, Penny knew there was something special between them, and then the bombshell, that Penny shared with Kit – the lost piece of the puzzle.

    I loved Adam’s step-back -in-time and taking Kit to “getting-to-know-you lane” firstly taking her to St Andrews Cathedral, the place where Kitty was at 9:00 a.m. on 7 December 1941. Then St Andrew’s Priory School for Girls where she found Catherine McGarrie’s first year school photograph in the 1936 yearbook. Finishing up at Leonard’s Bakery for a mouth-watering malasada, washed down with an original Wailo Shave Ice.

    This book whilst historical fiction has it all, a love affair that transcends generations, long lost secrets, sibling rivalry, skeletons in the closet, and loved family members battling dementia. I really appreciate the amount of hands-on ‘research’ that goes into writing a novel depicting such a world changing event, and the amount of mai tais that need to be consumed, and I can’t wait for Emily’s next idea to come to fruition set in New York and Las Vegas!

  5. I was fortunate to be able to read and love this book, The Lost Pearl.

    I sometimes struggle with books which are told across two different periods of time-but not this one!

    Beautiful characters, who you can imagine you would love in real life- a story of love, friendships and tragedies, and also family dynamics that go into making this a fabulous book.

    Can highly recommend-I didnt want it to end, and am now struggling to choose another book to read as I think I might be disappointed .

  6. Thankyou to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira for the opportunity to read The Lost Pearl by Emily Madden.

    I loved the book and highly recommend it.

    The book is about love,loss, disappointments,broken promises and secrets.
    The book is set in Hawaii and later in Sydney. Catherine McGarrie is the daughter of a US Naval rear admiral who is based in Hawaii. He has settled his family there. At Catherine’s 16th birthday party she meets Charlie. He is a friend of her brother. They are both in the navy. Catherine knows her parents would not approve of Charlie. She makes decisions which send her life in an unexpected direction. A few days later the bombing of Pearl Harbour changes all their lives forever.
    75 years later Catherine tells her granddaughter Kit of her first love and talks about her lost treasure. Kit is a journalist and naturally is curious as to who her grandmother is talking about and why she has never talked about her childhood in Hawaii. Kit makes it her mission to find out her family secrets.

    The book gives us an insight to the trauma suffered by families during war. The book also handles a social situation, not always talked about, in a direct confronting way. Has made me more aware of the tragic practices of that era.

    Well worth a read.

  7. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book, and review it..

    I really enjoyed this book, and can’t stop thinking about it since I finished it. It had me nearly in tears at times thinking of the horrible treatment some people have endured during war times. Other times I felt uplifted. Please clear your diary before you start reading ‘The Lost Pearl’ as you will neglect everything! I finished it at nearly 2am and was very tired the next day!

    A story of loss, love, heartbreak and forgiveness. A wonderful read, and highly recommended.

  8. The Lost Pearl by Emily Madden, is the first book by Madden I have read, I’ve had Summers With Juliette in my to read pile for ages, it will be moving to the top of the pile after this great story!
    Starting off in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1941, Catherine (Kitty) McGarrie meets a handsome navy officer at her 16th birthday party, the daughter of a Navy rear admiral, Kitty falls hard for Charlie who is from the ‘wrong’ side and of the tracks. Knowing her parents would never approve they meet in secret, as there love blossoms so do the rumours of war and on the 7th of December Pearl Harbour is bombed, changing the course of there lives forever.
    Seventy five years later Kitty is in hospital surrounded by her family including her beloved grand daughter Kit. Kitty reveals a long held secret to Kit, which sends Kit on a big adventure from Australia to Hawaii to uncover the full story and the truth, while on the journey Kit also learns a few things about herself and is able to heal some past hurts. Not all of her family knows about the long held secret, will they be able to handle the truth when it comes out?
    I really enjoyed this book, the flashbacks into the past and the different characters and the clues they all held made for an intriguing and page turning book. I thought I had the secret all worked out but was never quite sure and there were a few curveballs thrown in to make it interesting!
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the chance to review The Lost Pearl.

  9. I am loving the reviews for this book already and it is on my wishlist when I get to the shops. As I’ve been to Hawaii twice, I want to relive that time through the book again. It sounds interesting.

  10. The Lost Pearl is a sweeping family saga, spanning the the decades from 1941 to 2016 and two continents.

    Narrated in a dual timeline, the story alternates between the Hawaii in the 1940’s and the blossoming love between Catherine (Kitty) and Charlie, and the more present time of Catherine and her grand-daughter. An epic story of new love, old love and love lost, heartache, war time tragedies, drama and secrets.

    Emily Madden weaves a wonderfully descriptive and emotive story, bringing the characters, events and settings from 1940’s Hawaii, the bombing of Pearl Habor and modern times to life. An engrossing and totally enjoyable historical romance novel!

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace, and Harlequin for the chance to review this book!

  11. The Lost Pearl is an outstanding historical fiction set in the tropical paradise of Hawaii.
    US Navy Rear Admiral Conrad James McGarrie is posted in Hawaii and has his family with him.
    His daughter Catherine has her 16th Birthday in the Persian Ballroom of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
    Her brother Eddie is their with his friend Charlie Florio.
    A chance meeting that will send tendrills across time.
    As the rumours about war start to intrude in Catherine and Charlies blossoming love affair,
    the tension builds.
    At 7.55 am, Sunday the 7th December 1941 is a day many will never forget.
    The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

    2016 and Catherine is in hospital.
    A chance comment intrigues her granddaughter Kit.
    Kit is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
    This begins a journey through memories of the past,
    new memories made of the future,
    and the determination of a young lady to discover the truth.
    Madden has woven the story across time that the reader can follow effortlessly
    and will leave you wanting this story to continue.

    I highly recommend reading The Lost Pearl and I hope you love it as much as I did.
    This is not the first book of Emily Madden that I have read and will not be the last.

  12. Emily Madden is a stellar Australian author and has written a beautiful novel. This is a heart wrenching story of family, tragedy, grief, resilience and memories, with a cast of characters between two settings, 1940s Hawaii and 2016 Sydney Australia. The characters are very well staged and the settings are wonderfully described, I can just imagine sitting on the beaches in Honolulu, a place I would love to visit one day.

    Emily Madden, you have written a beautiful novel, thank you so much for the privilege of reading this novel. Thank you also to Beauty & Lace Book Club and Harlequin Mira for the opportunity to read this book.

  13. Thank you to Harlequin Mira and Beauty and Lace book club for providing me with a copy of this wonderful novel to review.

    The Lost Pearl is a wonderful multi-generational story set in several timezones. It starts in Hawaii before the bombing of Pearl Harbour and tells the story of 16 yo Catherine (Kitty) McGarrie and her family. They are a military family with Kitty’s father and brother in the service. On the night of her 16th birthday she meets Charlie and is immediately smitten with him. Their friendship grows and blossoms, then Peal Harbour is bombed with devastating consequences for Kitty and her family. She and her mother are sent off to Australia where her father thinks they will be safer.

    Meanwhile Kitty discovers herself in a terrible position, the consequences of which will affect her future life.

    The research that Emily has done with this book is impecable and as I have been to Pearl Harbour myself and Honolulu, I could imagine the settings and references to places that she used which was delightful. The Sydney hospital story was very well done and true to what actually happened in that era of Australia which was devastating.

    This was an incredible story, which I connected with on a personal basis with one element of the storyline, which I can’t reveal.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book which I sat up finishing very late last night. I loved Emily’s first novel Summers with Juliette, but this novel is on a whole new scale and I am so excited to imagine the future of her writing. Do yourself a huge favour and read this powerful novel. 5 excellent stars.

  14. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira for the opportunity to read The Lost Pearl by Emily Madden.

    After reading this book I have to get her debut novel Summers with Juliette. I really loved this book and couldn’t put it down once I started it. I finished reading a few days ago but it’s taken me til now to be able to write my review.

    This book is narrated in dual time 1941 and present day of 2016. I love how well written both story lines are. I found this book an emotional roller coaster from start til finish. I loved the book and at some points almost hated it because of certain circumstances that I found unfair but couldn’t wait to keep reading and find out what happened next.

    I highly recommend this book you won’t regret reading it.

  15. The Lost Pearl is the second book by Australian author Emily Madden and her first sweeping historical fiction saga. As a huge fan of historical fiction, particularily World War II, I was eagerly looking forward to getting my hands on this. When I did, I treasured every minute I spent in Honolulu with sixteen year old Kitty from 1941 onwards and in Sydney with her granddaughter, Kit, during 2016. With the dual timeline and alternating chapters I was able to fully immerse myself in both women’s lives as they dealt with passion and heartbreak in two different places.

    Kitty has grown up in a navy family with two parents that are like chalk and cheese. More like her father then her mother, Kitty is a modern, ambitious young woman who is ahead of her time with dreams of being a teacher. Kitty’s mother, in contrast, believes that Kitty should take the traditional route of finding a man and caring for the family home. Kitty also has an older sibling, a brother, Eddie, that she has a strong relationship with. Often acting as the chaperone on his dates, things don’t go according to plan when Kitty finds herself falling for a navy boy, Charlie, that her brother is aquainted with. But like all good love stories set during the war, Charlie comes from a lower class and Kitty knows that her parents will never aprove of the relationship. Just when Charlie and Kitty come to realise the depth of their relationship and the lengths they will go to be together, all hell breaks loose with the bombing of Peral Harbour. Kitty’s life will take her on a journey to Sydney but will she ever return to Hawaii?

    Kit, the granddaughter of Kitty, is a woman dealing with a broken heart. During this time, Kit finds a letter that opens the door to her grandparents relationship. Kit holds the key to a secret that has been buried since the war that will change everything her immediate family has thought to be true. While trying to solve the mysteries of the past, Kit finds herself meeting a man that will provide unexpected help and challenge her in ways that she could not have imagined. To give further detail will spoil the story, taking away the unknown, but watching Kit heal and find herself once again was a wonderful experience.

    Honululu is the third, unexpected, character in the story. Madden has opened my eyes with her intricate research and exquisite descriptions to a different culture through the eyes of Kitty, her friends and family. I felt like I was living in this U.S state as I was able immerse myself in the laid back times before the moment of the Pearl Harbour attack. While I have been aware of the events in Pearl Harbour for many years, I had not given them much thought. Through Kitty’s brother Eddie, I was able to live through the bombings and I was there with Kitty as she tried to help the wounded while not knowing the fate of her sibling. Madden has widened my knowledge and given me new appreciation for the victims of this event.

    With themes of love, family, war and moving on, this is a must read for fans of Natasha Lester and historical fiction!

  16. I usually struggle with books that are written in multiple time periods (1941-2016) but this one was the exception. Read it and I guarantee you will not be disappointed (you may be overly emotional, but that’s part of the fun!)

    What a ride it was! Following Catherine (Kitty) and her tail of forbidden love, family politics, secrets, forced adoption and reunion-This book is hands down spectacular, I cant say that enough

    The scenes are incredibly well described and you almost feel like you can see it all unfolding infront of you

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira for the opportunity to read The Lost Pearl- this will be in my re-read rotation for sure!

  17. Oh my where to start – I didn’t want this book to end thank you Emily Madden for a captivating read – love, loss, disappointment, heartbreak so many emotions – what a rollercoaster. Loved the time line between present day and Pearl Harbour – can’t write to much in fear of giving away the spoilers but just take the time and read it. Thanks Beauty and Lace once again you never fail to disappoint.

  18. Firstly sorry this review is so late but believe it or not I have just returned from Hawaii anyway I regress Thanks for the opportunity to read & review The Lost Pearl
    This is one of those books that you don’t want to put down from the first page until the end an exceptional read once again from Emily Madden
    Great storyline with strong characters over two timelines really tugs at the emotions & the descriptive scenery feels so real that you can actually picture yourself there.
    This is one book I feel everyone could enjoy & thoroughly recommend.

  19. Although I am extremely late at getting to read The Lost Pearl by Emily Madden, I knew from the first page that I was not going to be able to put it down!
    An amazing story that pulls the emotional roller coaster!
    Highly recommend this book!
    Thanks!

  20. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review The Lost Pearl.

    I loved the twists and turns and once again wanted to scream at some of the characters and the societal regulations and expectations. It was heartwrenching to read Kitty’s story and see the impact that people’s manipulations can have on their families – it truly is a ripple effect.

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