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Chevalier's clunky first novel, initially published in England in 1997, lacks the graceful literary intimacy of her subsequent runaway hit, Girl with a Pearl Earring. In split-narrative fashion, it follows a transplanted American woman in southwestern France as she connects through dreams with her distant Huguenot ancestors. The primary plot concerns the plight of Ella Turner, an insecure American midwife of French ancestry. Her architect husband, Rick, has been transferred from California to Toulouse, France, with Ella accompanying him. Often left alone, she becomes lonely and isolated, and when she decides it's time to have a baby, she begins dreaming of medieval scenes involving a blue dress. In alternating sections of the novel, these details are developed in a narrative about a 16th-century French farm girl and midwife, Isabelle du Moulin, and her eventual marriage to overbearing tyrant Etienne Tournier. Isabelle and Etienne belong to a vehemently anti-Catholic Calvinist sect that overthrows the village's cult of the Virgin, who is also known as La Rousse and depicted in paintings as red-haired and wearing a blue dress. Because of her own red hair and midwifery practice, Isabelle is suspected by her husband of witchcraft and punished accordingly. Ella, with the help of magnetic local librarian Jean-Paul, researches the lives of Isabelle and Etienne, trying to get to the bottom of her strange dreams. Chevalier tries hard to make Ella sympathetic, but her dissatisfaction with Rick is baffling, as is her attraction to the chauvinistic Jean-Paul. Equally difficult to swallow is the heavy-handed plot, which relies on jarring coincidences as it swerves unsteadily from past to present.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“A beautifully crafted story shot with vivid colors.” —The Times (London)
“Such an achievement for a serious writer that you feel it deserves an award.” —The Independent (London)See all Product Description
A wonderful story about self discovery. We are all products of the people who came before us and this book reminded me that I feel that the collective dreams and aspirations, as... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Carole P. Roman
This book has two stories in it. What I did not enjoy even though I'm sure it is historically accurate is how T. C. describes the way women were treated back in the 16th century. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Colette
Great historical novel with a modern twist.Tracy has a great way of making you feel you arementwined in her stories.Published on March 8 2013 by Trudi Backman
I came to this book totally on my own, by accident, and I love it. Compared to Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earing, The Virgin Blue does seem less tightly written. Read morePublished on July 27 2004
It's very interesting to me to see the wide range of opinions on this book. Clearly, if you are a Tracy Chevalier fan you will like this book, but whether or not you love it will... Read morePublished on July 2 2004 by KRyan
I enjoyed Girl with the Pearl Earring, but this book surpasses it with ease. This book will catch your interest from the beginning as the connection between Ella and Isabelle... Read morePublished on June 12 2004
Having read and loved both Girl with a Pearl Earring and Falling Angels (haven't gotten my hands on The Lady and the Unicorn yet), I was quite excited to run into Tracy Chevalier's... Read morePublished on June 12 2004 by S. Gefen