The Jewel Box

The Jewel Box


Fiction - Southern
310 Pages
Reviewed on 06/09/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

"I am honored my debut novel won GOLD in the 2014 Readers' Favorite Book Award contest, (Fiction - Southern category). Writing takes me to imaginary places filled with ordinary and extraordinary characters who offer intimate details of their humorous, eccentric, romantic, dramatic, and sometimes mundane lives. I write to learn moral lessons by placing characters in a variety of situations, which in turn offers soul searching and sometimes personal resolutions. Flawed characters reveal that everyone, no matter how imperfect or seemingly insignificant, offers something special in pretend worlds as well as in real life."
Michelle McCarty is a native Texan born with a love of writing, but forced to take jobs that actually paid for necessities along the way. After school, marriage, childbirth, and divorce, Michelle raised her daughter and launched a flourishing career in underemployment. From owning her own hair salon and employment agency, to writing ad copy and editing for an online newspaper, Michelle continually searched for her perfect employment niche. In 2002 when her granddaughter was born with a serious illness, Michelle retired from the workplace to become a nursemaid. Tending a child whose determination to live defied medical odds, inspired Michelle to breathe life into several story ideas she had set aside to mostly gather dust.
Michelle's first novel, The Jewel Box, was released in 2013, and her second, Beyond the Pale (Wealthy girls gets disowned and goes from mansion to mobile home), is due for publication in early 2015.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

The Jewel Box by C. Michelle McCarty is a story set in and around Texas. The story opens at an antique shop in Galveston, Texas, where Jill-Cherie is the owner and an old friend is waiting there for a delivery. The story takes us in flashback to the earlier life of Jill-Cherie. Just eighteen, Jill moves to Houston looking for adventure and excitement, but she finds herself in a mess. By twenty-two, she is married, divorced, and with a toddler. Her friend convinces her to work as a waitress in The Jewel Box, Houston's semi nude joint. She runs into the various types of bar regulars who live a loud life.

The book takes you on a ride through a multitude of emotions. The flashback forms the main part of the narrative. The bar scenes have interesting references to relevant pop culture and scenarios. The night club scenes have been portrayed vividly and the story is thought provoking with its many twists and turns that lend it a melodramatic air. The story evokes a lot of heartfelt emotions that remind us about the turns life takes, depending on the decisions we make. The book has some adult content and explicit language in many places. The book also deals with relationships and the complexities of life and love. The theme is authentic and the colorful and well developed characters make this story of love, tragedy, loss and triumph an engaging tale.

CarolineS

An exquisite read, July 24, 2014

The Jewel Box is a debut novel by Michelle McCarty. It has to be one of the best books I have read in a long time and I cannot believe this is her first. It is a fabulous read.

The Jewel Box’s main characters leap into your heart and you cannot help to care how they fair. Jill/Cherie’s life and past are a joy to read. Her responses and self-preservation are so well done. So many of the other characters deserve praise too. The descriptions bring the timelines to life both now and in the past. Michelle McCartney has a candid way of building the characters, delivering dialogue and building the story’s world.

The Jewel Box is captivating and will keep the reader turning the pages experiencing settings that are bold, raunchy, erotic, and real. The plot is complex and has a nice unexpected twist to finish with.

I cannot wait for the next book from this author.

Nikki Bywater

The Jewel Box is a love story that is told over a few decades. It tells the story of single-mum Cherie, who meets Gabriel in a bar she is working in. This begins their rollercoaster of a love affair, destined to be together but life keeps pulling them apart. As the years go by something keeps pulling them together but will it is strong enough not to tear them both apart.

This is a beautiful storyline, a romantic love story that is not too mushy, true to life and a really good read. I liked the characters and I liked the way the story was set over the years, like in the film The Way We Were. It is really well written and I liked the way the story does a full-circle at the end.

MarthaDL

The Jewel Box is an intriguing story about a girl/woman dealing with problems such as the emotional and financial hardships of single parenting, attempting to hide a less than stellar past, addiction to painkillers, and remorse for hasty decisions that cost her dearly. I found unprejudiced and open-hearted Cherie incredibly enduring. She uses humor and false bravado to somehow get herself back on track after repeatedly choosing the wrong path. Ms. McCarty's well-drawn (not always well adjusted) characters, move the story along nicely with a satisfying mix of compassion and passion. As a native Texan, it was fun reading history and remembering some of the places mentioned, many of which are now defunct. In the first chapter, Col Saint James was mentioned, and although he was primarily a Rock N Roll DJ, I remember him on the oldies station too. I still read Leon Hale and Ken Hoffman, so intertwining them into the story made it seem so familiar, I felt like I was along on a wild and wonderful ride. I'd forgotten radio personality Lanny Griffith was once Houston's "Master of Traffic in Bondage," which struck more chords in my memory bank. But by no means must one be a Houstonian or a Texan to understand and love this story. Humor is well placed, dialogue is superb, and some of these guys in Cherie's life were a hoot. More than just a romantic story, I enjoyed memorable father-figure, Beau and his disappearing Jack of Clubs trick. I was entertained by Cherie's naughty and spunky girlfriend Kat, the annoying perfume laden Delilah, intelligent soul-sister Patrice, kind and forgiving sister Ellen, and her daughter Nikki, who was more mature than her mom.

Kudos to Ms. McCarty's lush and creative writing that vividly describes even secondary characters. Although some serious situations occur, they are not overly depressing or graphic. The sassy repartee and smooth flow kept me eager to turn pages. This novel made me believe certain people fall into our lives exactly when it's meant to be, and sometimes their importance isn't understood for years. My favorite and most memorable character is Beau, and I thought his younger years in Las Vegas would make for a great sequel. I want to read more of this author's writing!

Sarah Gish

"The Jewel Box" by author C. Michelle McCarty features my two fave locales -- Houston and Galveston, Texas - so right off the bat, I was smitten. This debut novel by the Houston-based author takes readers on a thirty year jaunt with Jill-Cherie (you'll get that name change when you read it...) whose long and winding road helps her - and everyone around her - season and mature like fine wine. After Jill's first husband vanishes and leaves her without child support for their toddler, she hooks up with a second loser who turns brutal. Short on common sense and shorter on cash, she takes a job in a Houston "Go-Go" joint. As luck would have it, Jill landed in one that was nicer than most. Not just aesthetically, but the owner, Beau, wasn't your typical run-of-the-mill sordid topless club manager and kindly took this naïve girl under his wing. Encouraging her to protect her true identity, Beau suggested Jill take on the alias Cherie. That was the easy part as she continues blundering along, making one mistake after another. It is inside this bawdy establishment, Cherie meets her true love, who is unfortunately married with children. Cherie's decisions were at times frustrating to me, but her nature, wit, and love for her daughter helped me to forgive her character flaws. As she stumbles in and out of countless relationships and other calamities, it is always Beau that Cherie can turn to for guidance. As his sage advice slowly sinks into Cherie's thick skull, we get to watch her blossom into womanhood. "The Jewel Box" is a charming read which is a love letter to these special Texas cities as well as to women everywhere who are authentic, messy, and dare to live life out loud!

Grady Harp

Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States)(TOP 50 REVIEWER) (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)(VINE VOICE)


C. Michelle McCarty lives in Texas, always has, and knows the twang of the accent well - as well as the style of living that comes only from being IN a place for so many years. THE JEWEL BOX is her debut novel, and quite a testy tale it is covering a period from the wild and uncontrollable 1960s to the early 2000s. But McCarty is in control all the way.

Though the setting of the book opens in 2003, the format is one of recollection and reflection about a life that goes from chaotically raucous to that of an insightful mature woman. Naïve Texan Jill Novak's first husband vanishes, leaving her to support their two-year-old daughter. Needing to survive she finds employment in a strip joint bar called the Jewel Box, fortunately owned by Beauregard Duvalé (or `Beau') who takes on Jill's mess of a life, to the point of changing her name to Cherie and serving as her surrogate father (Jill/Cherie's father is a severe alcoholic) and mentor, keeping her bumpy, drug altered life in line and supported despite his own life-threatening illness. The characters who populate this thoroughly Texan tale - ditzy women, lotharios, total crazies, good and bad choices of men in whom Cherie attempts to find her mate, her quiet grounded sister and her young daughter Nikki (whose take on reality is closer to realistic) - are all well sculpted. There is a lot of rank language as befits a topless bar, enough bed work to keep readers satisfied, a big dose of laughter at times and an equal dollop of tenderness.

McCarty manages her material well - especially the journey from the sixties to the present as it could only be realized in Big Texas. Yes, THE JEWEL BOX is Chick Lit, but that we all know means it is bound to sell many copies to women searching for outlets and their own reassurance of their identity. It is a feisty and colorful read.

Jay Mittener

Jay Mittener - (TOP 500 REVIEWER)

What happens when one married woman gets the courage to completely change her life and live a fuller and more exciting life. I always love books that are centered in and around Texas too. It's such a different world than the one I live in and it always makes me just want to move.

I don't have the courage Jill had to load up her small child and change her life though! It's amazing to me how well C McCarty for a first time author was able to develop her characters in a way that makes us feel like we are reading about a friend. She mixes human, political, and family issues into her story and comes out with a very entertaining book.

Could you see yourself working at "The Jewel Box"? A high end gentleman's club? ... There was a time when Jill couldn't either. Buy this, read it- You'll love it too.

Online Book Reviews


Online Book Reviews (TOP 500 REVIEWER)

The Jewel Box by C. Michelle McCarty is a quick read set in Houston with an impressive cast of characters ranging from a reluctant topless dancer to a loud-mouth who discharges nothing but vulgarity, people who are as mottled and diverse as night and day. It is a story that convincingly portrays the attitude and mentality of the people in the 1970s t0 1980s.

Michelle narrates the story of Cherie, who is a single-mother, and tells her story of affection, hurt, and existence. It is a moving and poignant story of brokenness, loss, bad choices, drugs and alcoholism. But this story is not just about heartaches, it is also fun and humorous. Other interesting characters in the story are Delilah, Beau, Kat, Patrice, Rachel and several others. The story covers a period of nearly thirty years with the characters who are methodically developed by Michelle. Interestingly, the author’s sharp focus on the main protagonists does not rob the shine off the secondary players even if their presence in the story is a bit fleeting.

The Jewel Box is a real treasure and a delightful read. What I particularly find fascinating about the story is how Cherie managed to find the courage to admit who she was, and undo some of the damages she had done as Jill. Moving yet funny but highly tenacious to the core, The Jewel Box by C. Michelle McCarty is makes for a compelling read.

Jay Mittener

Jay Mittener (TOP 500 REVIEWER)

What happens when one married woman gets the courage to completely change her life and live a fuller and more exciting life. I always love books that are centered in and around Texas too. It's such a different world than the one I live in and it always makes me just want to move.

I don't have the courage Jill had to load up her small child and change her life though! It's amazing to me how well C McCarty for a first time author was able to develop her characters in a way that makes us feel like we are reading about a friend. She mixes human, political, and family issues into her story and comes out with a very entertaining book.

Could you see yourself working at "The Jewel Box"? A high end gentleman's club? ... There was a time when Jill couldn't either. Buy this, read it- You'll love it too.

Geraldine Ahern

Geraldine Ahearn (Phoenix, AZ)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER) (VINE VOICE) (REAL NAME)

C. Michelle McCarty delivers a Masterpiece of contemporary fiction as the reader is taken on a thirty year journey, through the life of one remarkable woman. We are taken back to the nostalgic era of the 60's in all its glory as we witness old relationships, mistakes, struggle, then triumph. As the reader moves through the sentimental memories of those oldies-but-goodies, one can hear the sweet tunes of 'The Time Of Your Life' from Dirty Dancing, through electrifying flashbacks. Cherie's exciting, poignant story reveals a colorful portrait of strength, the trials-and-tribulations of single parenting, and the long road to maturity. The author describes the true meaning of survival as we follow Cherie's footsteps through old doors that closed, and new doors that opened. The intriguing story reveals how strong we become as we heal the pain of failure, while riding that bumpy roller-coaster, through a time machine of the sixties, to today's world. The setting fits like a glove, and the unique characters come to life. "THE JEWEL BOX" is an enjoyable read that tugs at your heart, is as fascinating as The Courage To Love, and as entertaining as Flashdance. Highly recommended!