Monday, 30 November 2015

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier | Book Review

The Virgin Blue, 320 pages. Published June 2003 by Plume
Rating **** 1/2

Tracy Chevalier is a breaker of hearts. This isn't the first novel of hers that I've read and felt so much sadness for the characters in her novel. The Virgin Blue is her debut novel which for some reason has taken me years to finally pick up, but it was well worth it. This story is split between two women who share an ancestral history - Isabelle du Moulin and Ella Turner. Separated by four hundred years of history but connected by the colour blue - a colour which brings pain and heartbreak to Isabelle's family and which haunts the dreams of Ella as she tries to make a life for herself in France as an expat American who is finding adjusting to life with her husband in a small French village difficult.

To me Tracy Chevalier is the master storyteller of not only historical fiction but small stories that have a powerful and emotive pull bigger than their pages. Isabelle's domestic life in rocked by religious unease in their tiny village, their family fearful of persecution while Ella also feels the discomfort of being a talking point in her new town, especially when she strikes up a friendship with the Librarian who is both handsome and single (and who I couldn't help but picture as a Serge Gainsborough lookalike, sorry not sorry). Ella and Isabelle's lives are further mirrored in that within their own families neither woman is sure of where to turn towards as their marriages strain against these outside forces.

Tracy Chevalier has a way of capturing the messiness of people's lives both past and present, yet presenting their stories in a way that makes me empathise with Isabelle and Ella where perhaps other authors would fail. The Virgin Blue is a stunning book that reveals that a little bit of heartbreak is sometimes necessary in order to find something beautiful.

No comments

Post a Comment

© Sundays and Ink. All rights reserved.