QAB Book Review:
by Nancy Bilyeau
Genevieve Planche is a woman with a mission. Laden with artistic talent, drive, passion, and courage, she strives to emerge the next great oil portraitist, the master of her craft. All Genevieve needs beyond her God-given giftedness is a mentor, a renowned artist who can teach her how to truly capture life in oil, the exquisite detail she seeks beyond her current abilities. There is only one problem, however — one seemingly insurmountable. As an 18th-century Huguenot woman living in London, none of the masters would take her on. Even her grandfather – a respected artist in his own right – believes Genevieve’s options limited by her gender. His idea? She will learn a craft, a most valuable one. Instead of drawing life from oil, she will paint decor onto porcelain. After all, artistry on the finest porcelain is a highly sought after craft, the most precious porcelain the treasure of royalty.
As is typical with a Nancy Bilyeau authored novel, as the novel opens, protagonist Genevieve Planche immediately encounters a major dilemma. Does she follow the path her grandfather laid out so carefully for her or does she follow her own destiny? Determined to be the woman she hopes to become, Genevieve sets out on an exciting journey of intrigue, danger, and romance — the men in her life — artists, actors, chemists, business owners, courtiers, common criminals and spies — best described on Facebook with the relationship status, “It’s Complicated”. If she completes one seemingly simple assignment, though, an Italian master artist awaits. She merely needs to discover one secret, just one, and the “golden ring” is hers.
Video Credit: Endeavour Media
I will cut to the chase right now. The Blue is a brilliantly crafted fast-paced action-packed novel with rich storytelling, fun reversals, and delightful historical detail. Now, as the browsers of Queenanneboleyn.com know, my historical expertise lays primarily with the Tudor and early Stuart Dynasties of English history. Thus, I can’t delve with the authority that I could with Nancy Bilyeau’s previous novels when speaking to the historical accuracy of timeline and major historical events unfolding in the plot’s background. That made no difference. This novel holds itself as excellent fiction whether the reader is familiar with the history of the era or not. In fact, my curiosity was piqued several times, leading me off to “Sir Google” to learn more about the Huguenot Diaspora, the popularity of and challenges in creating fine porcelain, and a host of other topics I will leave unsaid to avoid spoiling the journey for other readers.
My favorite thriller novel since Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network, Nancy Bilyeau’s The Blue also deserves to break out as a New York Time’s best seller. Goodreads is already taking notice, listing The Blue as one of five historical fiction novels featured as notable December releases. I certainly will be purchasing a few copies for loved ones this holiday season. My daughter, a lover of fiction with strong female leads, will be delighted. Dive right on in yourself. You will not be disappointed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, DuJour, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at City University of New York and a regular contributor to Town & Country, Purist, and The Vintage News.
A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel – an Oprah pick – was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013. The third in the trilogy, THE TAPESTRY, was published by Touchstone in 2015. Her fourth novel, THE BLUE, will be published on 3rd December.
Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.