Thursday 4 April 2019

The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

"Bilyeau’s characters are delightful and highly memorable."


Family drama
18th Century
England / France

With the heart and spirit of her Huguenot ancestors, Genevieve faces her challenges head on, but how much is she willing to suffer in pursuit and protection of the colour blue?”

The granddaughter of French Huguenots, Genevieve Planché is desperate to get away from London’s Spitalfields. She wants to be a painter like Hogarth and Reynolds, but the eighteenth century in England is not exactly kindly towards such aspirations. Maybe if she could get to Venice? Then she meets Sir Gabriel Courtenay who offers to help her ‘escape’ but in return, she must discover how the colour blue is achieved for the production of porcelain. There is a slight problem in that England is at war with France, and that the Sèvres and Derby porcelain manufacturers are also more-or-less at war with each other in their bid to use the new blue pigments.

No spoilers, and while this basic plot might sound a little plain, I can assure you that this novel is very far from dull, particularly if you have any interest in the history behind the production of porcelain.

We are taken to the streets of London, the British Museum, the Derby Potteries and Versailles, where we meet Madame Pompadour. Bilyeau’s own characters soon become friends to the reader, for they are delightful and highly memorable.

Highly recommended

© Ellen Hill

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