The Virgin Blue

Thoughts   The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier, Plume/Penguin Group 1997/2003, 304 pages

*** do not read if you prefer a spoiler-free posting ***

MOTIVATION for READING:    I read this for and thus concludes my entry in the Dewey’s Books Challenge.    This is my third Tracy Chevalier and third times are rarely good for me to review an author!   I should stop after two.    (I won’t be reading anymore Ishiguro Kazuo for awhile, either)    Maybe I shouldn’t read debuts;  my favorite Chevalier novel is Girl With a Pearl Earring and I enjoyed Burning Bright. My original post committing to the Dewey Challenge also posts a link to a much more favorable and less-spoiler review from Kailana which I link to again at the end of this.
I acquired the book through

WHAT it’s ABOUT:   An American couple move to France; the wife chooses a house in a small town and they begin working on starting a family.    However, she starts having an unsettling dream involving a vivid blue color every time they have unprotected sex.    It just unravels from there and involves a search for her French heritage and a flirtation with a librarian.    AND…    we get a taste of life in 1600s France with a story line involving an ancestor who is scorned for her red hair and introduces the source of that blue color which happens to be cloth.    Stories collide in the end.   The characters set in our time have happy ending except the husband who goes to Germany with his job.    Actually, I’m sure he was better off.   The older story is just sad.

WHAT’s GOOD:    I enjoyed learning about the historical aspects of the Catholic-Huguenot conflicts in old France.

WHAT’s not so GOOD:      Hmmmm.   The beginning of the book did not flow at all, it felt clumsy and was confusing.  I didn’t like the main character – she was whiny.   She did not respect her husband, in my opinion.   The original event that makes the blue cloth so important was awful and senseless.   And I just didn’t buy that she was the special ancestor divined to find this blue cloth.   Yea, whatever.

MORE THOUGHTS:     Do you think I allowed Eva’s comment to bias my approach to this book?       I was actually more motivated to read this knowing she ‘loathed’ it.    🙂      I could guess why Eva didn’t like it…   I waited to read her review and I totally understand her feelings.    I wish I could remember what Dewey thought of it – seems like she agreed with Kailana?   I would bet she was likely to be insightful and gentle with any criticism which I feel I’ve not been.

RATING:   Two Pie Slices for “It’s OK.”    Not actually awful and I don’t regret reading it, but I had a few issues with a few things to just throw me off from enjoying.


Eva’s at A Striped Armchair

Shhhh I’m Reading

Kailana’s The Written World


12 thoughts on “The Virgin Blue

    1. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to not enjoy a book; I like wondering why – though I sure don’t feel confident I can express my thoughts on it very intelligently. Maybe you will like it?

  1. I hope I didn’t affect you too much! :/ I’ll keep my comments to myself next time, lol. I’m curious to know what Dewey thought of it too; I don’t remember her review of it. I just looked back at what I wrote about it, and it was pretty harsh. But I remember being really upset by the book and not in a good way. And Chevalier’s a pretty popular author, so I figure she can take care of herself! 🙂 I haven’t read either of the two Chevaliers that you have-I read The Lady and the Unicorn and was underwhelmed.

    I read Kelly’s review too, and it sounds like Dewey agreed more with her. Which is cool-I’m glad so many people enjoy Tracy Chevalier!

    1. Eva, I knew almost exactly what ‘affronted your sensibilities’ and where/when in the story. Don’t feel any responsibility for ‘affecting’ my liking this or not. And I did like Girl with Pearl Earring! Burning Bright would have been better for me if I was more familiar with William Blake and the historical parts filled in spots I knew little about – so I liked that.

  2. You are so right about the third book by a new author! The first two make you get all gooey-faced and in love, and then the third book lets you down hard. I sympathize. 😛

    1. Perhaps it is the ORDER of the three books in terms of when they were written? I don’t often read ‘by author’; you and I have very different approaches to what books to read! I jump around and rarely attempt to read all that an author has written. But if I start with a debut and like it, I bet I will like the 2nd, 3rd, etc. 🙂

  3. You know, I think it really was just learning about the Huguenots that thrilled me about this book because little else has stuck with me but I remember The Girl with the Pearl Earring vividly. I allegedly have Hugeunot ancestry but I knew next to nothing about them (except that they were expert craftsmen and invited into Berlin to escape persecution because Berlin was mostly overrun with Barbarians at the time) so that was cool and probably the reason I remember it as a semi-positive experience. I do remember the reason for the blue dress dreams totally pissed me off. It was, as you said, so senseless.

  4. Pingback: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming « Care's Online Book Club

  5. candletea

    I started reading this book about a year ago and I never finished. I remember that I got really annoyed at the author around a 1/4 in. I sort of want to try again, but I have a feeling I should read another book by her instead. I liked Girl with a Pearl Earring and her book about a cemetery and two girls (can’t remember the title), but this one just felt wrong somehow. Maybe it was the beginning of the book, like you said it doesn’t flow, but I never got any further than that.

  6. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?

    I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% sure.
    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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