Midnight Blue by Simone Van Der Vlugt Blog tour and review.
Amsterdam, 1654: following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five year old Catrin leaves her small village and takes a job as housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt merchant family.
Her new life is vibrant and exciting in a city at the peak of its powers: commerce, science and art are flourishing and the ships leaving Amsterdam bring back exotic riches from the Far East.
When an unwelcome figure from her past threatens her new life, Catrin flees to Delft. There, her painting talent earns her a chance to try out as a pottery painter.
Slowly, the workshop begins to develop a new type of pottery to rival the coveted Chinese porcelain – and Delft Blue is born. But when tragedy strikes, Catrin has a hard choice to make. Rich and engrossing, Midnight Blue is perfect for fans of Tulip Fever and Girl with a Pearl Earring
Every now and again a novel comes along that so clearly calls out to me it might be a bespoke title written for me alone.
Midnight Blue is one of these books.
It was the cover which first drew me towards this book, I think its just gorgeous!
But between the covers I became enchanted with the story.
Firstly it’s set in the vividly described, enticing location of Holland and the centre of Amsterdam, a city with which I am so familiar I could conduct my own guided tours around the canals, having spent much time there some years ago.
This book is set in a bygone era, located in a Holland of the past, the mid 17th century to be precise. My love of authentic historical settings and a longing to time travel back to days gone by and witness life as it used to be, gives this another huge tick in my box.
The heroine, Catrin, is a strong willed and determined individual, a trait I admire. I love to read about books with a strong female protagonist in whose clogs I can firmly place myself.
The cover instantly indicates that the book features the emergence of the Dutch pottery industry and the development of Delft blue, a decorative form I adore which remains popular today.
So now I’ve told you why it’s the perfect read for me, I’ll try and explain how it exceeded every expectation and why YOU need to read this wonderful, enthralling historical novel for yourself.
The story is narrated by a very authentic young woman of 25, Catrin, who is suddenly widowed. Feeling unable to stay in the stifling small village where everyone knows everyone else business, she moves away from her family to the bustling city of Amsterdam, where she lands on her feet being offered a job as a housekeeper.
Life in Amsterdam is busy and exciting and the family she is working for are interesting and considerate. Soon opportunities present themselves for her to expand her horizons far more than would ever have been possible in a little rural village.
Catrin has an artistic streak, until now, little more than the ability to decorate simple household objects and make them colourful and pretty with basic paints. When her bored mistress takes art lessons, Catrin absorbs the information and techniques and a longing to use her own artistic talents is born, we even meet some famous historical faces from the art world as Catrins path crosses theirs.
It’s romantic and mysterious:
When romance appears for Catrin and awakens passions of a different kind to those which she feels for art, it leads to possibly disastrous consequences and Catrin finds herself feeling threatened and pursued and is soon on the move yet again. Always there is an air of mystery about her past, especially when a figure from her previous life appears on the scene threatening to disrupt the new life she has built.
It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good and fortune smiles on her, presenting her with further opportunity and more grief. It seems as soon as fortune finds her, misfortune follows behind and we watch her life unfold amidst a series of lucky coincidences and terrible disasters.
In an era when plague threatens and drama is quick to turn to tragedy, Catrin does all she can to hold her head high and achieve a decent life for herself. Who wouldn’t?
It’s immensely enjoyable:
Midnight Blue is a wonderfully entertaining story of a very determined young woman, whom at times I thought was excessively fortunate and at others felt so unlucky my heart almost broke for her. On occasions her streak of determination shows a manipulative nature and she often makes impulsive and unwise decisions but she genuinely charmed me and I was hooked into experiencing her life as it unfolds.
There is romance, violence, mystery and death amongst the pages to satisfy readers with a wide variety of tastes and in Midnight Blue there is never a dull moment and I loved every moment of my journey through time.