The Alexandrite, Dione Jones
When Pamela, Lady Scawton discovers a stranger dead in the woods near the family home, Ashly House, it triggers a multi-generational, multi-timeline search for the truth. The stranger was carrying an odd stone in his pocket, along with a letter addressed to Pamela's dead husband. Pamela is a good person, generous and very down to earth, unaffected by the title although greatly attached to the estate she has called home for many years. She has, however, endured many years of abuse from her overbearing husband and a selfish, over-entitled brat of a son.
The stone turns out to be an Alexandrite (hence the name of the novel), originally from Tsarist Russia, but the letter provides little in the way of clues as to why this stranger was seeking out her husband, and what the cryptic messages might mean.
The quest that Pamela sets out on is to solve these many mysteries and along the way there are flashbacks to the earlier family circumstances, and the action moves between Ashly House and eventually to New Zealand.
THE ALEXANDRITE is full of complicated interwoven timelines and places, involving a lot of characters, so part way through I will confess to having to write a list of who was who and where they came into things as I got increasingly confused. The style of writing is extremely expository as well, so don't start this one if you're hoping for a quick read, although it's major strength is possibly the illumination it brings to the class system and it's impact on women, in particular, trapped in its confines and expectations.
Who is the stranger found dead in the woods, outside Pamela Lady Scawton's family home? Why was he carrying a stone that changes colour and a threatening letter?
The quest leads from World War One to the present day and from an English village to New Zealand farmland, to discover how past events are intertwined with the present. To unravel the mystery Pamela is forced to confront truths that shatter her beliefs about her family and their place in the world.