A Matchbox Full of Pearls

Fiction - Mystery - General
323 Pages
Reviewed on 12/30/2021
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Author Biography

West Australian born, Kamille Roach lived in nine houses by age five. Her deep connection with the natural world is evident in her stories. She has a Science Degree, is published in magazines, short story collections, recognised in writing competitions and was winner of the 2013 BJ Paterson Short Story Award. A family woman, fitness instructor and nurse, Kamille runs no risk of boredom in the Perth home she shares with her loves.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

A Matchbox Full of Pearls by Kamille Roach is a story of courage. Lola Harris has returned to York, Western Australia, to her old foster home to attend her foster mother’s funeral. It doesn’t take long for her to go back in time to the life she used to live. Finding her foster mother’s sketches, drawn 30 years before when a woman stood accused of drowning the wife of her lover, Lola starts to dig deeper into the events of the time. Suddenly, she discovers that she is connected to the murder and it turns her entire life upside down. As she continues investigating, she draws ever closer to those who don’t want certain secrets uncovered and also manages to work out the identity of a sex attacker in her town. After she is abducted, it will take all her strength and survival skills to get away. Can she escape the clutches of an evil attacker? Will she be able to face her past and come to terms with it?

A Matchbox Full of Pearls by Kamille Roach is a wonderful story of courage and coming to terms with past events. It’s a story full of twists and turns, and plenty of surprises – some good, some not so good. This is a well-written story with lots of attention to detail. It’s funny in places, heartbreaking in others, has a little romance thrown in for good measure, and is a realistic story with real characters. Emotionally, it is up and down, dragging you through every emotion you could possibly experience in one book and it has a very strong ending. It’s an enjoyable story with a great plot and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to sink into another world for a while.

Viga Boland

While the genre for Kamille Roach’s unforgettable novel, A Matchbox Full of Pearls, is listed as literary fiction, meaning characters take precedence over plot, ultimately, whether intended or not, this stunning novel becomes a mystery readers keep trying to solve. The characters, how they think, what they do, and how their pasts impact the present offer more twists and turns than some thrillers do, making the book impossible to put down. Roach’s protagonist, Lola Harris, captures our hearts and attention immediately. This now-adult foster home child is tough and at times mouthy, but it doesn’t take us long to realize how deeply she hurts. Returning home after the death of her foster mother, Blossom, Lola is completely perplexed, as we are, by what Blossom has left for her. Her efforts to find answers to the strange gift put her in unexpected and increasing danger, bringing the mysterious elements of the novel to a somewhat shocking ending, but not before another character from Lola’s past, Lorrellai, shares space in our heads and hearts with Lola and her childhood love, Walshy.

In A Matchbox Full of Pearls, Roach has somehow written an almost perfect blend of literary fiction and mystery. Much of the story is told through Lola’s, and later, Lorrellai’s thoughts and words. This creates a strong intimacy between the primary characters and readers. But, at the same time, Roach has a rather complicated, and often frightening plot line along which these two characters travel and ultimately intersect. When this happens, readers feel and share in Lola’s realization she was, and is, loved. It’s an epiphany for Lola and, after much plot tension, a mentally joyful highpoint for the reader. As the story is set in Australia, non-Aussies might be curious about things like Vegemite, a blackish yeast spread enjoyed on toast, or “damper,” a delicious bread. Roach might stimulate your interest in the many plants, trees, and flowers that frequently color the settings, and are an important part of this novel's appeal. In short, readers come away enlightened and entertained, ever a winning formula for an author. A Matchbox Full of Pearls is a story you savor with a flavor you remember long after you close the book.

Nicola Jenvey

In Kamille Roach’s beautifully descriptive novel, A Matchbox Full of Pearls, 20-year-old Lola Harris returns to her small-town Australian safe space in York for her foster mother’s funeral. Orphaned as a baby, she had been bounced between foster parents and State care facilities for nine years before Blossom had taken her in and provided her with roots. However, the reasons she had departed York for Melbourne originally have not altered and Lola slides almost seamlessly into her old life and its issues. The serial rapist has attacked for the third time; her ex-boyfriend Walshy has reappeared; and the 35-year-old mystery surrounding the imprisonment of 19-year-old Lorrelai for murdering her lover’s wife still captures imaginations. Blossom has bequeathed Lola a key, a sketchbook, and an old candlestick to complete a matching set, leaving the young woman a trail of breadcrumbs with more questions than answers.

Imagery cascades through Kamille Roach’s hauntingly beautiful book, A Matchbox Full of Pearls. The narrative intermingles the coming-of-age with the slightly older reflection of its central character Lola (aka Jane as in Tarzan and Jane) as she seeks answers following Blossom’s passing. The action moves between the childhood Lola – awkward and out-of-place in a cliquey, pre-teen environment – and the 20-year-old Lola who thought leaving the Australian wheat belt for the city lights would be forever. It also raises questions about Lorrelai’s case. Why was this murder so integral to Blossom during her lifetime, yet never raised as a subject for discussion? Why leave Lola the breadcrumbs as the only remembrance of her existence? This is a single-read. There is no stopping once you turn the first page as the clever writing and twists are carefully plotted, but just when you think you have outsmarted Roach, she nails you again.

Vincent Dublado

A compelling murder-mystery tale, A Matchbox Full of Pearls by Kamille Roach is an emotional homecoming that will draw you into helping its protagonist, Lola Harris, to uncover the past. Lola is on her way to her small hometown of York in Australia to attend the funeral of her foster mother, Blossom. Her plane ride already forebodes what is going to happen as she reads an article about lovely Lorrelai, an exotic dancer and convicted murderer. Then she hears another passenger talk about a serial rapist that has emerged after lying low for eight years. In York, she gets to meet old faces that she has not seen for a long time including Ben, the one she considers her true love. Lola inherits a gift from her foster mother that involves a book of sketches of Lorrelai, while a serial rapist on the loose is wreaking terror on her small town. The people that she knows, Lorrelai, the serial rapist, and her past will intersect to give her an exacting revelation that will change her life forever.

A Matchbox Full of Pearls effectively shifts time in its exploration of Lola’s child and adult years. This gives a solid dimension to the mystery. A lot of mystery authors would have approached this plotline like a police procedural, focusing on forensics and theories. Kamille Roach chooses to focus more on character and motivation to make Lola a fully realized protagonist. Of course, the cops still play an important part in the storyline, but Roach makes Lola finely tuned enough to understand what’s going on. As a character-driven story, A Matchbox Full of Pearls finds its narrative thread. You feel Lola’s increasing anxiousness at uncovering the truth, and the suspicion that the criminal may well be the one whom you least expect to be. This is a must-read for anyone who loves a good murder mystery, as its premise rises organically through the passion of its heroine to learn more about who and what she is.

Rabia Tanveer

A Matchbox Full of Pearls by Kamille Roach is the story of a resilient woman hellbent on finding the truth. Lola is an orphan who grew up in multiple foster homes before she found permanence with Blossom. Now that she is 20, Lola is out in the world on her own. Trying her best to find a place for herself, Lola is called back home for Blossom’s funeral, and her life changed after that. However, to her surprise, Blossom left a set of clues that all point to a murder that happened in the 70s. Strange things start to occur when a serial rapist makes it back to their sleepy little town in Australia. Plus, coming back has made Lola come face to face with Walshy, the love of her life, and the reason why she left her home in the first place. There was chaos and turmoil around Lola, but could she focus on the clues and figure out what Blossom wanted her to discover?

Full of surprise and many twists and turns, A Matchbox Full of Pearls is a magnificent display of artistic mastery. Kamille Roach takes all the right liberties with the story to make it fascinating yet remarkably well-constructed. Each chapter increased my excitement to find out what will happen next. The clues Blossom leaves for Lola are pretty straightforward and the subplot these clues lead to is just as interesting as the main plot of the story. Lola’s character is simple yet very complex which makes her human and relatable for me. The pace is fast, the dialogues are right, and the descriptions are deep enough for readers to understand what more could they mean! Perfect!

Lorraine Moniz

I bought this book as part of a Christmas present for my daughter and flicked through the first few pages… was so interesting… .ended up reading it as I was in home quarantine for Christmas … could not put it down!! A very cleverly well written romantic mystery but with a little bit of everything !! Most of all I loved the vivid descriptions of our beautiful Western Australia. Love the clever way Kamille has her story in 3 parts … present past and then the mystery unfolds in the last section. A very enjoyable read and a book that will make you laugh and cry ! Highly recommended!

Teleah Hort

A Matchbox Full of Pearls is a beautifully written, vividly descriptive work of art. Kamille weaves love, mystery, drama and realism throughout this enticing adventure. She makes me miss Western Australia so much. Will definitely be reading this again!

Jennifer Robertson

Have been saving Matchbox full of Pearls for a holiday read. The book was so easy to relax into and get to know the characters and invest in their story. Could easily relate to each group of characters as I raced through the book to get to the denouement and conclusion. Highly recommended to all styles of reader.

Glenda Taylor

I thoroughly enjoyed this well written ,engaging book.
It took me through a range of emotions, I loved that it was set in WA which made it very relatable.
Well done Camille.

Jody Thorpe

A great read

Chelsea Hainsworth

A beautifully detailed narrative, descriptive in a way that evokes all the senses. I fell in love with Lola and Walshy. Full of surprises and twists and turns that make it a pleasurable page turner. Congratulations Camille on a beautifully written first novel.