Review by Christian Sia
Gift of Diamonds by Roberta Seret is a spellbinding novel with an international setting that takes readers across countries in the era of the communist regime in Transylvania and Romania. The story follows Mica fleeing the country that’s been her home. It is filled with history and intriguing plot twists. Her parents have been involved in the resistance against the communist regime in both Bucharest and Budapest and when they are arrested by the Secret Police, Mica finds herself running away, at night and alone, with rare diamonds in different colors. She intends to get to the US, sell the diamonds, and start a new life. This novel documents her struggles and her journey through Budapest to New York, a journey filled with challenges, and at times, life-threatening setbacks.
This is an absorbing story that features a wonderful female protagonist. The story is rich in history and the historical setting is written with strong allusions to the plight of the Jews under the communist regime, the cruelty of Ceausescu and his nuclear business partners, and spying. There are references to Auschwitz that explain the origins of the diamonds. The author has a unique gift for character and it is interesting to watch Mica evolve from a seventeen-year-old girl who once enjoyed wandering in the woods of Transylvania and the Carpathian mountains with her friends to an independent, self-reliant, and strong woman, learning to depend on herself to survive. Gift of Diamonds is written in language that is flawless. I loved the well-crafted and strong themes, the well-written international setting, and the political ideas explored in the story. But what had me going from page to page is the deft treatment of the protagonist — she is real, genuine, and sophisticated.
Reviewed By Jose Corneli
Gift of Diamonds by Roberta Seret is a compelling narrative with strong historical undertones and a story with a memorable female protagonist. The story follows seventeen-year-old Mica who sets off at night after the arrest of her parents by the Secret Police of the communist regime in Transylvania. She’s always dreamed of becoming an actress, but now she is alone and with nothing but rare diamonds that she brings along, her only hope of crafting a future for herself and her parents — if only they can survive the communist cruelty. She seeks asylum in the American Embassy in Budapest from where she plans to immigrate to the US and to eventually bring her parents with her. From connecting to the right people, guarding her secret about the diamonds, and finding the strength to stand up for herself, Mica will have to go through untold challenges, including rape, espionage, and staying alive. Can she make it to the US, sell her diamonds at Sotheby’s, and win her and her parents’ freedom? It will be interesting for the reader to find out.
This is a well-crafted, fast-paced, and character-driven story that had me on the edge on my seat. The reader is introduced to a young female protagonist who has to grow up quickly and become independent against the backdrop of an oppressive regime. The author offers powerful images of what it was like to grow up in communist Transylvania. There are strong shades of the experience of Auschwitz in relation to the diamonds. Roberta Seret’s prose is fantastic and I was delightfully moved by the evocative character of the writing. The descriptions are gorgeous and the author leads the reader into the psyche of the protagonist with intelligence. The setting is well written, and the contrast between the horror that Mica is running from and the hope of liberty in the US is mesmerizing. Gift of Diamonds is cinematic, an engaging story that I would love to watch as a movie.
Review by K.C. Finn
Gift of Diamonds is a work of fiction in the historical and interpersonal drama sub-genres and was penned by author Roberta Seret. Written as the third novel in the Transylvanian Trilogy, the work explores the story of central character Mica, who flees from Romania during her teenage years to forge a new life for herself in America. Burdened with the knowledge that the diamonds she carries are likely to be blood diamonds, Mica must hang onto them to sell them and fund safe passage for her and her parents to escape the communist regime in her home country. The path is far from smooth and contains some truly traumatic events along the way.
Author Roberta Seret has crafted a highly immersive novel that takes recent historical times and brings us up to date on how much life and politics have changed for women over the decades. The 1960s austerity of communist Transylvania is a truly unique setting, brought to life with unique details in the prose and a highly empathetic understanding of how this life would have oppressed a young woman who aspires for more. I really enjoyed Mica as she grew from strength to strength, though some more sensitive readers may find parts of her struggle very harrowing to read about. But she comes through in an accomplished emotional arc and plot structure that brings about a powerful ending to her tale. Overall, I would certainly recommend Gift of Diamonds to readers seeking high drama and immersive historical fiction.