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The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

The Blue (edition 2018)

by Nancy Bilyeau (Author)

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3810458,961 (4.12)6
Title:The Blue
Authors:Nancy Bilyeau (Author)
Info:Endeavour Quill (2018), 430 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, London Fiction

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The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau



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Genevieve Planché is a young Huguenot employed to paint flowers on silk intended for ladies dresses, but she longs to become a real artist, painting in oil under the guidance of a great master. Alas, the cards are stacked against her as a woman of French heritage (England is at war with France). She longs to paint the lives of the common people. After a disappointing meeting with William Hogarth, Genevieve is almost resigned to take the position her grandfather has secured for her as a porcelain painter in Derby. A mysterious nobleman appears, offering her the life she dreams of in Venice, where women artists are fully accepted--if she will agree to go to Derby as his spy. What he wants is the secret formula for a new shade of blue.

What follows is more of a mystery than I expected, and the story is full of adventures, twists, and strange characters. Thankfully, the romance element is rather downplayed (although it does get a bit heavier towards the end). Who knew that the international porcelain market in the 18th century was as crazy and full of intrigue as the Tulip Wars of the previous century? Or that Madame de Pompadour was one of the chief investors? Bilyeau gives her readers a full and captivating picture of life in London, Derby, and Versailles through the eyes of her Huguenot heroine. This novel should appeal to lovers of mystery as well as of historical fiction. ( )
  Cariola | Mar 21, 2019 |
THE BLUE, A Novel by Nancy Bilyeau
Using actual people and events as the basis, Bilyeau has written an engrossing tale of spying, treachery, art, porcelain making, kings and kingdoms. Blue is a difficult color to create for artists and porcelain makers. It was one of the last colors to be made for artists (late 18th century) and was greatly prized.
Genevieve, an English Huguenot who desired to be an historical artist, is the well-developed main character. She is surrounded by chemists seeking the color blue, spies seeking the color blue, kings and pottery makers seeking the color blue and those willing to kill to help or hinder them. The intricate plot is thick with chicanery and populated with such personages as Madame de Pompadour, King Louis XV, and the founders of Sèvres and Derby porcelain. Of course romance blooms as well.
Book groups who are interested in history, art, or romance will find this tale engrossing and will lead to good discussions.
5 of 5 stars ( )
  beckyhaase | Mar 18, 2019 |
Porcelain. Not what I thought would make for exciting reading, but in this fabulous book, it's a commodity that drives politics, espionage, and obsession.

I'm a longtime fan of Nancy Bilyeau's books: rich with drama and unforgettable characters, they are the kind of books that just sweep you up. Here, Bilyeau makes an industrial endeavor -- the 18th century passion for blue porcelain -- a captivating, dramatic story, centered on a winning heroine.

Genevieve Planché is a descendant of French Huguenot refugees. A talented artist, she hopes to be mentored by William Hogarth, but her grandfather wishes her to work as a artisan at the Derby porcelainworks. Her rebellious childhood sweetheart leads her, instead, into a mystifying, increasingly deadly world of industrial espionage -- and us readers into a fascinating world where the scientific pursuit of blue glaze motivates nations and nobles.

I loved every page of this book, and my only complaint is that I felt it wrapped up a little too quickly. Genevieve is an intriguing character, one of those fiery heroines who feel authentic rather than overly modern, and she's faced with complicated challenges. (Honestly, there was a point where I was wishing we could have a novel where she sides with our 'villain' because their chemistry was just as delicious as hers with the hero.) Bilyeau evokes Genevieve's world without infodumping and the interpersonal drama is so good and so real.

Another winning read from Bilyeau. ( )
  unabridgedchick | Jan 17, 2019 |
Genevieve Planché is a French refugee in England. Her family are Huguenots, unwanted by the French King Louis XV. Genevieve's grandfather is an artist and she strives to be an artist as well, however the closest she can come in France is painting flowers on silk dresses. Opportunity arises after a chance meeting with the mesmerizing Sir Gabriel Courtenay. Courtenay promises Geneiveve a placement as an artist in Venice if she will use her talents in order to spy for him at the porcelain factory. Courtenay is specifically interested in a new color blue that a hidden chemist is working on perfecting at the factory. Genevieve takes the risk, but soon learns the cost as she meets the infamous chemist and learns who she is truly spying for.

An exciting historical spy thriller that combines art, science and romance for a captivating adventure into the color blue. Genevieve's spirit immediately captured me as she was willing to fight for a position among the male artists. Through rich and detailed historical writing I was able to learn about the Huguenots plight in France and their successes in England as well as the growth of the porcelain industry through King Louis XV mistress, Madame Pompadour. The fight for the development of colors was riveting to me. There were many reasons why Courtenay seemed to want the specific blue, but I could never imagine the danger that a color would bring as Genevieve's life was turned upside down. The spy elements and romance between Genevieve and Thomas kept me intrigued, but it was truly the color blue that drove the story.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. ( )
  Mishker | Jan 10, 2019 |
Wow! What a page turner! This historical fiction story by Nancy Bilyeau kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book which I received via an unique online book club called The Pigeonhole which gives you the book in staves. The Blue was definitely well suited to receive in staves as each stave ended with a cliffhanger. Reading the book this way made it so that I could not wait for the next stave to be made available, and when the next stave arrived I stopped everything until I finished reading it.

Nancy’s sensational picturesque writing made me feel as if I was part of the story. Her characters where all well defined with exceptional personalities, some you love, some you hate, but none are forgettable. The blending of real and fictional characters was flawless. This was definitely the best historical thriller I read this year. I was truly mesmerized throughout and was immeasurably gratified when it ended.

I received a complimentary copy (ARC) of this book from the author/publisher via Pigeonhole. I was under no obligation to write a review, and all options expressed in this review are completely my own. ( )
  ladyansel | Jan 1, 2019 |
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