Monday, December 22, 2008

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier

The compelling story of two women, born four centuries apart, and the ancestral legacy that binds them. Ella Turner does her best to fit in to the small, close-knit community of Lisle-sur-Tarn. She even changes her name back to Tournier, and learns French. In vain. Isolated and lonely, she is drawn to investigate her Tournier ancestry, which leads to her encounter with the town's wolfish librarian. Isabelle du Moulin, known as Le Rousse due to her fiery red hair, is tormented and shunned in the village -- suspected of witchcraft and reviled for her association with the Virgin Mary. Falling pregnant, she is forced to marry into the ruling family: the Tourniers. Tormentor becomes husband, and a shocking fate awaits her. Plagued by the color blue, Ella is haunted by parallels with the past, and by her recurring dream. Then one morning she wakes up to discover that her hair is turning inexplicably red...

Dear Dewey,

Well, it is that time again. I read a book that you read, so I am counting it as one of the reads for the challenge held in your honour. After reading The Road, and getting rather depressed by it all, I tried to find something a little more cheerful. While there are a lot more cheerful moments in this book, though, it is still a rather depressing book. I have to say, if the book cover you used for the review is the one you read, I like your cover so much better than mine! Mine has the same woman on the front, but the top and bottom of her are cut off in order to include the title and the author. Mine is a second-hand copy, though, likely bought with credit, so I guess I shouldn't complain!

I also read Girl With a Pearl Earring and didn't like it as much as this book. I know that people loved it, so I am glad you are with me on it just being okay. I like her writing enough to keep buying her books, though, but I generally wait until I find them at the second hand store. I was interested in reading this book because of the tracing of her family tree and tracking down her ancestors. That is a subject that I have always been interested in, so I enjoy reading books about others trying to figure out where they came from. You said that you liked two things the best about the book: "the French history and Ella’s story". I agree with you there. I don't know a lot about French history, but my family is from France, so I really should study it more. I also really liked learning about Ella and watching her character develop.

There are two main characters to this book because the chapters switch back and forth. One chapter is about Ella, living in the modern time, and the other chapter would be about Isabella, who turns out to be one of Ella's ancestors. Near the end, the two stories become intertwined, though, and I found myself really enjoying that. I do enjoy that we seemed to be of the same mind about this book. What Isabella went through in the past was depressing. I didn't do a very good job finding a more cheery book! As her story progressed I couldn't believe what she went through! You thought the same. I hope that most people would think the same... I won't say anymore. People will just have to read it to see what we are talking about!

Once again it was great to read a book with you!

Until next time!

P.S. I didn't know this was her first book and first came out 11 years ago! I guess I am reading rather out of order!


  1. I didn't care for Girl With a Pearl Earring either. Wasn't going to bother with this one but your review has changed my mind.

  2. This sounds really good! I didn't know anything about this one, but liked Girl with a Pearl Earring, so I'd probably really like it. Also, I love the letter format for your reviews of Dewey's books.

  3. booklogged: Yeah, I liked this better than A Girl with a Pearl Earring, so you should give it a try.

    Thanks, Robin! I hope you take a chance to read it!

  4. I liked this one better than The Girl with a Pearl Earring, also. I have some French Huguenot ancestry. Loved the way you wrote this as a letter to Dewey.

  5. I didn't mind Girl with a Pearl Earring but I did really like this one a lot more when I read it a few years ago. Loved the Huguenot history, course I have a soft spot for all things French.

  6. Bookfool: Maybe it is just the literary world that didn't like this book! I really like my letter format, too. It made it easier to write, really.

    tanabata: I have a soft spot for French things too, as that is a large part of my heritage!

  7. It sounds like an interesting story. I've been planning to read Girl With a Pearl Earring before I watched the movie.

  8. I enjoyed it. She is still not one of my favourite authors, though. I don't know what it is.

  9. Anonymous3:51 PM

    I am late to the challenge and cannot access Dewey's reviews, so... I'm reading all the reviews and choosing one for the challenge list. Since I've read The Road, I will select this! I've read 2 books by Chevalier and enjoyed them; plus, I studied a bit of French history so committing, I am. Thank you.

  10. Yeah, it is too bad that her web site is down... Hope you enjoy this one and any others that you read!


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