Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum's Reviews > The Blue Rose

The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth
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really liked it

It's in Brittany, France in 1788 that we meet our heroine of The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth. Viviane is the daughter of the Marquis de Ravoisier and she has grown up without a mother at the Chateau de Belisima-sur-le-lac. Viviane is an aristocrat and is thankful her overbearing, gambling father is absent most of the time, living at the court of Versailles.

Viviane is a likeable character and a free spirit, always making herself useful, tending to the sick and injured tenants of her father's land and tramping around the countryside with her three legged dog Luna when she can escape the attentions of her Great Aunt. She doesn't enjoy the privilege her rank provides and would much rather horse about with her milk brother Pierrick.

After a vicious storm, Viviane's father commissions an English gardener David Stronach to construct a beautiful garden at the chateau. With a shared interest in herbs and plants, slowly but surely they begin to fall in love.

Their class divide soon becomes apparent and David is lucky to escape alive when her father returns. He has racked up a considerable gambling debt and Viviane is betrothed to his friend in order to settle the debt. The lovers are separated, Viviane believing David was killed in his escape, David believing Viviane has betrayed him and married for position, title and favour.

The Blue Rose then follows the separate lives of Viviane and David in a period of significant social and political upheaval in France. The French Revolution begins in 1789 and to be an aristo (aristocrat or high born) is a death sentence in some cases.

Meanwhile, David embarks on a British diplomatic journey to Imperial China on an errand on behalf of Sir Joseph Banks.

Throughout their struggles, their love endures and both plights are brought into startling focus in alternate chapters. Covering themes of: love, class, duty, civil war, exploration and the clashing of cultures this is an historical fiction novel you can really sink your teeth into. This is a bloody time in France's history and the author doesn't shy away from the brutality, bloodlust and cruelty of the time.

It's clear from Viviane's experiences that an incredible amount of research has been undertaken by Kate Forsyth. Despite so many bestselling novels, she hasn't written about this period in history before, but you wouldn't know it from the ease from which this tale seemingly emerges.

My only complaint was that the ending seemed a little perfectly timed, but it's a very small criticism in an otherwise evocative and enjoyable historical fiction novel.

The Blue Rose by Australian author Kate Forsyth is recommended reading for historical fiction devotees, romance readers and Francophiles.

* Copy courtesy of Penguin Random House *
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Reading Progress

April 20, 2019 – Shelved
April 20, 2019 – Shelved as: maybe
June 11, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
June 30, 2019 – Started Reading
June 30, 2019 –
page 42
11.41%
July 1, 2019 –
page 98
26.63%
July 7, 2019 –
page 148
40.22%
July 8, 2019 –
page 202
54.89%
July 9, 2019 –
page 264
71.74%
July 10, 2019 –
page 332
90.22%
July 11, 2019 –
page 368
100.0%
July 11, 2019 – Finished Reading

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