Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > The Blue Rose

The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth
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it was amazing
bookshelves: australian-author, australian-womens-writers-challenge, librarybooks

‘Mais non. C’est impossible.’

Viviane de Faitaud lives at the Chateau de Belisama-sur-le-Lac in Brittany, her late mother’s estate. Her father, the Marquise de Ravoisier, who lives at Versailles in the court of Louis XVI, has banished her there after she refused to marry. Viviane is happy there, frequently able to escape from her chaperone. The estate has been neglected: the Marquise rarely spends time there. But when the Marquise marries again, he commissions a young Welsh gardener, David Stronach, to rebuild the chateau’s gardens.

David and Viviane fall in love. But the Marquise is never going to accept this: David is hunted from the estate ((without being paid for his work) while Viviane is forced to marry a rich duke.

‘It is good that you can live in a world where fairy-tales can come true,’ she whispered, so low he barely heard her. ‘I, unfortunately, do not.’

In many stories, this would be the end of an impossible romance, or the beginning of an illicit one. But Ms Forsyth builds a story which encompasses the French Revolution of the 18th century and Imperial China. Viviane ends up at the court of Marie-Antoinette, and David travels with Lord Macartney on the first British diplomatic mission to China.

The story moves between Imperial China and France, between a quest for trade and a blood-red rose, and the terror of the French Revolution and a fight for survival. In Canton, David learns of the French Revolution. He also hears, from a Chinese gardener, a story of impossible love: the story of ‘The Blue Rose’ and discovers the blood-red rose.

Viviane escapes the guillotine and returns to Chateau de Belisama-sur-le-Lac. David finds her there. He has brought with him some rosehips from China, and together they decide to grow China’s red rose in France.

This is such a beautiful novel. Ms Forsyth combines history and fiction in a way that brings the past to life. The excesses and the cruelty of France before and during the Revolution are not downplayed, nor are the difficulties Britain experienced in trying to establish diplomatic relations with China. Some of this history I knew, but not about the origin of blood-red roses.

I finished the novel well satisfied.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Reading Progress

August 11, 2019 – Started Reading
August 11, 2019 – Shelved
August 11, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-author
August 11, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-womens-writers-challenge
August 11, 2019 – Shelved as: librarybooks
August 13, 2019 –
page 116
August 14, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Have you heard Kate talk about the novel? It's known that the Rose came from China to France but not how, that's where her creative license fills in the gaps. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel too :-)

Jennifer (JC-S) No, Kim, I've not had the pleasure of hearing Kate speak about the novel. That would have been wonderful.

message 3: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Indeed, Jennifer! Kate's a great speaker :D

message 4: by Tracey (new)

Tracey How can one get a copy of this book? I can't find it for a decent price anywhere!

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