Deceit and Derby
Set somewhere around the mid 1760s The Blue introduces to a Huguenot refugee, Genevieve, living amongst the Silk Weavers of Spitalfields and desperate to become a painter. Not a salubrious occupation at the time and certainly not one for a woman to enter. Her Grandfather has secured her a place as a resident artist at Derby Porcelain but for Genevieve this is a fate almost worse than death. When she meets the charismatic Sir Gabriel he offers her a way out, but to receive it she has to find out the Secret Of The Blue.
Normally this is the style of book I lap up and I have read a few now set in a similar time period. I can't put my finger on it but there was something missing in this tale, something that stopped me getting dragged in to the story and being unwilling to relinquish it's hold on me. The plot is well paced with a few nice little red herrings scattered about that made me look in the wrong direction for a chapter or two. It does all become a little overblown and ridiculous towards the end though - I won't detail how or when things go went awry for this reader as it will spoil the plot - and maybe it is this that spoilt it for me.
Genevieve is a rather frustrating character. She vacillates from being determined to a simpering wreck time and again and I was never quite convinced by her seeming capitulations and weaknesses; they just jarred too much with the girl who would gatecrash a society party thrown by the celebrated William Hogarth. In some ways she is drawn in a very human way with all the contradictions that make up a flesh and blood person, I just didn't really like her very much. I also felt that little time was spent on forming characters for the other people in the plot. The men in particular are painted with very broad strokes and when you consider how intrinsic to the plot Sir Gabriel and, later, Thomas are I would have expected more than the two dimensions we got of them.
Overall this is a solidly written book with excellent descriptions of life in both London and Derby. Unfortunately, for me, it was missing the necessary depth to create a truly absorbing tale.
THIS IS AN HONEST AND UNBIASED REVIEW OF A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK READ THROUGH THE PIGEONHOLE.