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The Pearl Thief (2017)

by Elizabeth Wein

Series: Code Name Verity (prequel 1)

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4003660,912 (3.88)9
Fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in a hospital not knowing how she was injured, and soon befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her, and later, when a body is discovered, she experiences the prejudices his family has endured and tries to keep them from being framed for the crime.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
This story never picked a direction and went with it. It felt like a good idea that got distracted and ran around in circles for a while. ( )
  kamlibrarian | Dec 23, 2022 |
It's been a long time since I've started and finished a book in three hours yet this was the perfect book to break that streak. This is a "prequel" of sorts to "Code Name Verity" and one that I was anxious to dive into. Like "Code", this book leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat the entire ride. "The Pearl Thief" gives you a more in depth look into Julia as a teenager and shows the dynamic family she came from. For me, it answered some of the longing questions I had while reading "Code". This is a great companion novel to "Code" but it's also a great standalone novel all on it's own. I couldn't put it down and I would highly recommend it whether you've read "Code" or not. ( )
  dabutkus | Sep 4, 2022 |
Prequels are tricky things, but this one is very well done. I especially enjoyed watching the main character interact with her family and just starting to realize her unique gift for subterfuge and eye for detail. ( )
  suzannekmoses | May 20, 2022 |
For me, Elizabeth Wein is one of those writers who could put down a grocery list and I would end up raptly attuned and waiting for more. I suspected I would like this book. In fact, it's up there with I Capture the Castle for hugely comforting, deeply halcyon reads. I just loved it -- loved the subject of leaving a dearly held place and growing up. Loved the careless, deep, rambling friendships. Loved the exploration and the mysteries and the setting and the caustic moments when Ellen calls Julie out. Loved that the book doesn't shy away from the terrible treatment of Traveler communities. I never knew that river pearls even existed, or that there is a library in the middle of a river -- fascinated at all the little details. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
Part of the cycle of loosely-tied together novels about women during World War II, The Pearl Thief acts as a prequel to Code Name Verity. The novel's protagonist is Julie Beaufort-Stuart, the Scottish aristocrat who is one of the two main characters of the earlier novel, and is set one year prior to the war when she is just 15. She returns home her family estate from boarding school to find herself embroiled in a mystery regarding the disappearance of a scholar working with artifacts recovered from their property.

Julie is a great character, impulsive and bold that make her stand out among the staid expectations of her time and class. Much of the novel explores her new friendship with the siblings Ellen and Euan McEwen, who are members of Highland Travellers' community that camp nearby. The trio get into many adventures, and they encounter much prejudice against the Travelers (which Julie attempts to shield with her privilege). The book also explores Julie's romantic attraction to Ellen and to an older man named Richard revealing her burgeoning sexuality (and hooray for bisexual representation!).

This is the first book by Elizabeth Wein that I don't love, but it is a great character study even if I found the narrative to be a bit slight. ( )
  Othemts | Feb 27, 2022 |
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Code Name Verity (prequel 1)
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O, my love’s like a red, red rose,

that’s newly sprung in June;

O, my love’s like the melody

that’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

so deep in love am I,

and I will love thee still, my dear,

till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,

and the rocks melt wi’ the sun:

I will love thee still, my dear,

while the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only love!

And fare thee well awhile!

And I will come again, my love,

tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Robert Burns, ‘A Red, Red Rose’
For Helen

Time and change shall not avail

to break the friendships formed
First words
‘You’re a brave lassie.’
Scottish river mussels are not like the little ones you get in the sea, , or find scoured as blue and white shells along the tide line. [They were] as long as my hand , and nearly as wide, narrowed in the middle like fiddles.

It was smooth and brown as a leather billfold, and it opened like a hymnal. I couldn't see anything that looked like a pearl, though the inside of the shell was beautiful. I held the two halves spread wide on my palms while Mrs. McEwen slid her thumbs under the shell's luckless inhabitant - but there was nothing in it but a gray blob of dying mussel.

I felt sad, all of a sudden - not about there being no pearl, but about us having killed a wild thing that had been minding its own business in the River Fearn for a hundred years or more. (p. 90-91)
"Now the summer's in its prime

Wi' the flowers sweetly bloomin'

And the wild mountain thyme -

"-All the moorland is perfumin', Ellen joined in.

We finished the verse together, and sang the whole thing at the tops of our voices, scaring birds. We walked side by side on the track over the moor that was ours by right of our being there, singing to the sky and the wind. (p. 151)
"We don't mind about keeping things," Ellen said. "If you give a Traveller girl a ring, she'll wear it until some other girl admires it, then like as not she'll give it to her friend. For love. For the pleasure of giving. Because what's the point in just having? If I give a thing, I'll remember how happy we both were when I made the gift." (p. 158-59)
... injustice [to Travellers] ... in being denied high school exams. I tried to imagine Ellen's lifetime spent enduring such an endless string of insults and violations. You'd have to have such certainty in your own self. You'd have to be so strong." (p. 205)
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Wikipedia in English


Fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in a hospital not knowing how she was injured, and soon befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her, and later, when a body is discovered, she experiences the prejudices his family has endured and tries to keep them from being framed for the crime.

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Book description
Before Verity . . . there was Julie. When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she'd imagined won't be exactly what she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather's estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family's employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital. Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences firsthand some of the prejudices they've grown used to—a stark contrast to her own upbringing—and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation. Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime. This exhilarating coming-of-age story, a prequel to the Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, returns to a beloved character just before she first takes flight. Amazon
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Elizabeth Wein's book The Pearl Thief was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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