Recommended by Lindsey Alexander
Chevalier’s The Virgin Blue is a magnificent book but be warned, it’s not a feel good tale.
Like ‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and ‘Falling Angels’ they deal with important times in history and the challenges faced by women.
This time the plot follows the lives of Isabella Tournier who lives in rural France at the end of the 16th century, and her American ancestor Ella Turner, who has moved to France to research her ancestry, improve her French and have a baby. Isabella’s struggle is with her own husband and the growth of Protestantism which is sweeping the country.
Her long red hair, Catholic upbringing and her mother’s career as a midwife, are to bring her lifelong strife - as does her love of blue with terrible, unimaginable consequences.
In turn, the more Ella finds out about her family’s past, the more her own life changes.
I read this book on holiday and was so absorbed by the tension and impending sense of fear I couldn’t put it down.
The Virgin Blue is utterly heart-stopping and compelling - and a good lesson in why we need to learn from history.