Saturday 24 August 2019

Book Review: Midnight Blue by Simone van der Vlugt (Historical Fiction)

Title: Midnight Blue
Author: Simone van der Vlugt
William Morrow

Publication Date: 2018
Historical Fiction
Borrowed Copy


Amsterdam 1654: against the backdrop of Holland's Golden Age, a dangerous secret threatens to destroy a young widow's new life.

Following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five-year-old Catrin leaves her small village and takes a job as a housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt merchant family. Amsterdam is a city at the peak of its powers: science and art are flourishing in the Golden Age and Dutch ships bring back exotic riches from the Far East. Madam Van Nulandt passes her time taking expensive painting lessons from a local master, Rembrandt van Rigin, and when Catrin takes up a brush to finish some of her mistress's work, Rembrandt realizes the maid has genuine talent and encourages her to continue.

When a figure from her past threatens her new life, Catrin flees to the smaller city of Delft. There, her gift as a painter earns her a chance to earn a living painting pottery at a local workshop. Slowly, the workshop begins to develop a new type of pottery to rival fancy blue-on-white imported Chinese porcelain—and the graceful and coveted Delft Blue designs she creates help revolutionize the industry. But when tragedy strikes, Catrin must decide whether to defend her newfound independence or return to the village that she'd fled.

Midnight Blue was an enjoyable enough historical romance. I liked the fact it was set against the backdrop of the rise of Delftware, in an interesting historical period. I would have liked to have seen a little more description of the world included, as that seemed somewhat lacking, but the characters and plot mostly worked to hold my attention, even though the constant comma splicing left me grinding my teeth. (Why did the editor not fix this?). Not a book I'd madly recommend or rush to reread, but fans of this style of story will find something to enjoy here, and it was a quick, light read. 3.5 stars.

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