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Monday, 25 February 2013

Tracy chevalier - The Virgin Blue

reviewed on recorded bookshow by Ro Bennett (aired March 2013)

Book description: 
The compelling story of two women, born four centuries apart, and the ancestral legacy that binds them.
Ella Turner does her best to fit into the small, close-knit community of Lisle-sur-Tarn. She even changes her name back to Tournier, and knocks the rust off her high school French. But it is all 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 La 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 colour 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…
On the whole I enjoyed the book and found it a page turner. It was informative with its geographical and historical descriptions which would have been enhanced with a map. It fluctuates between the story of Isabelle in the 1500s and present day Ella, her descendent. I found that interesting, and liked how their lives were interwoven as Ella explored and uncovered her family origins.  However there were parts which I found implausible. I could empathise and identify with Isabella but wasn’t drawn to Ella, she appeared neurotic and self obsessed and she irritated me - I felt sorry for her husband. However the anticlimactic ending was my main problem, the unanswered questions, loose ends and unmade decisions left me feeling up in the air and disgruntled.

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