The Clasp by Sloane Crosley

Everyone loves a good treasure hunt. This is why we have blockbuster movies like National Treasure, Indiana Jones and Sahara. The thrill of the hunt, finding clues and the immense payoff of finding the treasure (or the fate of the treasure) is what makes these stories so exciting. Sloane Crosley, author of a pair of bestselling books of essays, weaves a tale about a lost Nazi necklace in her first novel. Taking a bit of inspiration from author Guy de Maupassant, Crosley’s characters travel from the US to South France in search of a necklace so beautiful, it’s location is completely unknown.

The hunt opens with our three main characters, Kezia, Nathaniel and Victor. Once the best of friends, the three are merely more than acquaintances now. Having gone their separate ways after college, each of the trio has their own life, exciting and depressing in its own right. Kezia is recently second in command to a unique jewelry designer in Manhattan, Nathaniel trying his best to write and sell a television series in Hollywood. Bringing up the rear is Victor who sadly was just let go from his position at a second rate search engine. Who wants to work for Bing anyways? The three reunite at the wedding of one of their former college classmates, Victor still hot on the trail of Kezia; Nathaniel still watching his ego rapidly grow. Amidst the excitement, Victor finds himself wandering off and passing out in the room of the groom’s mother. Instead of anger, she feigns his ignorance and tells him the tale of a incredibly valuable necklace that disappeared during the Nazi occupation of France. The only proof of this wonderment is a picture she holds dearly, kept almost exclusively in her archive of jewelry. With no responsibilities to hold him back, Victor takes off for France, determined to find the necklace.

To anyone who has taken a literature course or fiction course in college, The Clasp’s story might not surprise you. Crosley follows Maupassant’s short story pretty closely, while interjecting her own story to make it feel more modernized. One could even make the argument that The Clasp is a modernized retelling of “The Necklace”. Nevertheless the shortcomings of Crosley’s first novel don’t fall within in the story; it’s actually a rather rousing adventure. Instead, the three main characters feel flat, hateful and boring. In the beginning of the story they are supposedly rekindling their three-way relationship of sorts. Victor has always had the hots for Kezia and she’s always had an eye for Nathaniel. We’re greeted with flashbacks to their college times; Victor making a fool of himself while he attempts pass after pass at Kezia. It’s hard to get a sense of how good of friends the three really were, but it’s insinuated that they must have been quite close. Fast forwarding to present day, we’re set to observe them as if they’re wild animals, struggling to be passive with each other at a mutual friends wedding. Because of their interactions, it’s hard to grasp what their relationship is supposed to be. Do they love each other like family or are they justifying their behavior because they don’t ever want to see each other after this event. Regardless of their feelings, we are still greeted to minor payoffs and half smiles as the three do their best to rekindle their friendship on a jaunt across France.

Rating: 3 out of 5 – The Clasp is an adventure of fabulous nature, but Crosley’s writing falls a bit short when her characters refuse to mix no better than oil and water.

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