As someone with Dutch heritage, I have been exposed to the pottery technique of Delftware, which is blue and white patterns on a variety of different objects including plates, ornaments, and tiles.
As it was a common thing to see growing up I was more than a little interested in reading Midnight Blue by acclaimed Dutch author Simone va der Vlugt, which explored the painting movement in the 17th century.
I received Midnight Blue in exchange for an honest review, via TLC Book Tours. With that in mind, lets get into the review, shall we?
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Midnight Blue by Simone van der Vlugt
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 26, 2018)
Print Length: 336 pages
Following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five-year-old Catrin leaves her small village and takes a job as a housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt merchant family. Amsterdam is a city at the peak of its powers: science and art are flourishing in the Golden Age and Dutch ships bring back exotic riches from the Far East. Madam Van Nulandt passes her time taking expensive painting lessons from a local master, Rembrandt van Rigin, and when Catrin takes up a brush to finish some of her mistress’s work, Rembrandt realizes the maid has genuine talent and encourages her to continue.
When a figure from her past threatens her new life, Catrin flees to the smaller city of Delft. There, her gift as a painter earns her a chance to earn a living painting pottery at a local workshop. Slowly, the workshop begins to develop a new type of pottery to rival fancy blue-on-white imported Chinese porcelain—and the graceful and coveted Delft Blue designs she creates help revolutionize the industry. But when tragedy strikes, Catrin must decide whether to defend her newfound independence or return to the village that she’d fled.
Midnight Blue is a whimsical yet somewhat erratic exploration into 17th century Holland, the Delft Blue pottery movement, and the lengths one girl was willing to do to escape her past.
Midnight Blue is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of twenty-five-year-old Catrin as she leaves her small village in search of a better life following the death of her abusive husband.
As far as the technicality of the novel, Midnight Blue boasts quick and snappy chapters that made it feel like the story was done before my brain could catch up. It has been a while but this book actually kept me reading well into the wee hours of the morning in order to find out what was going to happen next. While I felt that there could have been more in terms of the history of the Delft Blue painting movement, I did find that van der Vlugt was able to balance learning about the porcelain painting and learning about other issues faced by the Dutch, including the plague and the Delft explosion of 1654. My only issue with the reading of the novel was in the translation as I felt it, in certain instances, made me more disconnected from the characters.
I rather enjoyed reading from the perspective of Catrin. I was invested in the mystery surrounding her dead husband, and her former employee Jacob, as well as in her flourishing painting business. I also rather enjoyed her fan girl moment when she is introduced to famed Dutch painter Rembrandt. It added to the realness of the character making her somewhat rela regardless of the historical setting. The drama brought on by her love life however, left much to be desired. Besides her issues with her dead husband, which are justifiable, Catrin went from one Van Nulandt brother to the other, making me disbelieve her sincerity and commitment by the novel’s end.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on Midnight Blue by Simone van der Vlugt. Have any historical fiction recommendations you think I should check out? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.