Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Virgin Blue

Fiction / Historical
320 pages / 723 KB
3 Stars

I love this type of story that goes between two protagonists in two different times and cultures. Ms. Chevalier is a marvelous writer, but I almost didn't finish this book. I loved Isabelle du Moulin from a time long gone, and because I had to find out how she ended, I finished the book.

My sympathy for Ella Turner (Tournier) was pretty much lacking, actually, it was totally lacking. I could not find a single thing about her to relate to, other than we are both female. I disliked her. Immensely. I've lived in a foreign country (Germany) where the language and the culture was considerably different than mine, and I loved every minute of it. I found the people to be wonderfully patient and helpful with my struggling through their language, often with the help of a small dictionary always with me. Including the French when we visited Toulouse and the area.

The other thing that really irked me was the excessive use of French (sorry, I no longer have my little dictionary). I don't mind a few words here and there, that I can translate in context, but not sentences, especially when there is no internal dialogue telling me or at least giving me a hint as to what was just said.

Chevalier is a marvelous writer and perhaps this book is really better than I'm giving it credit for. Had Ella been more sympathetic and likable, I probably would have loved the book. As it was, I loved the history, especially since some of my ancestors were Swiss Huguenots, and thought Chevalier did an excellent job weaving that history into the story.

There were some areas that left me puzzled. Like, how did she get the bones across the border? What did she see in Jean Paul that was missing in her husband? What did either man see in her? Both Isabelle and Ella were midwives; why didn't that figure prominently into the story? Why didn't that fact play a major factor in solving the mystery?

I've thoroughly enjoyed the other books by Chevalier I've read, and I hate to give her a low rating on even this one. Do I recommend this one? Only if you are fluent in French and want to be able to say you've read all her books—or if you're really, really bored.

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