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Midnight Blue: A Novel

Midnight Blue: A Novel


Midnight Blue: A Novel

evaluări:
4/5 (18 evaluări)
Lungime:
8 hours
Lansat:
Jun 26, 2018
ISBN:
9780062880673
Format:
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Descriere

From Simone Van Der Vlugt comes her European bestselling novel of a young woman's rise as a painter in Holland's Golden Age—perfect for readers of The Miniaturist, Tulip Fever, and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Amsterdam 1654: against the backdrop of Holland's Golden Age, a dangerous secret threatens to destroy a young widow's new life.

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.

Lansat:
Jun 26, 2018
ISBN:
9780062880673
Format:
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Despre autor

Simone van der Vlugt is an acclaimed Dutch writer. She was born in Hoorn and lives with her husband and two children in Alkmaar, The Netherlands. She has written a number of books for young readers. Her debut novel for adults, The Renunion, has sold over 200,000 copies and has been translated into English, French and German.


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3.8
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  • (3/5)
    Simone van der Blugt’s 2018 historical novel is her first published in the United States. In 1654, the young widow Catrin leaves her small village to seek her fortune and leave behind the suspicions about her role in her husband’s death. In Amsterdam, she finds work as housekeeper to the wealthy Van Nulandt family. Madame Van Nulandt takes painting lessons from a local master, Rembrandt van Rijn, but Catrin, it turns out, is the real artist in the household. The secret of her husband’s death returns, however, and her struggle to make a successful life despite all shows plenty of pluck and talent. Fans of Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Coffee Trader, Tulip Mania (?) will enjoy the rich evocation of the times. .
  • (4/5)
    Catrin did not marry well but women in her time were expected to marry. When her husband dies she sells off what is left of their belongings and decides to go to a larger town to work as a housekeeper. She just needs to experience more of life than milking the cows and keeping a house. Her original plans don’t work out but she is lucky and another opportunity presents itself and she finds herself working for wealthy family. Best luck of all – the mistress spends all her day painting and painting is Catrin’s secret passion.But all is not to be easy and simple for Catrin for there are things from her past that she would rather forget and someone from her old town has blown in like an ill wind. She decides she must move on but fortunately her employer has a brother so he sends her to him to see if he needs help. He does have ulterior motives though, as he has seen Catrin’s painting ability and his brother has a pottery in Delft.Catrin settles in to working at the pottery and becomes a popular member of the town but dangers await from both external threats and those she considers friends. The events from her past are still simmering and could boil over and burn her.I enjoyed this book. But I will note that at many times I forgot I was reading an historical novel. Catrin seemed a woman more of modern times than of the 17th century. The characters were well developed and captivating but unlike other historical novels I’ve read the feeling of being grounded in time and place just wasn’t present in this book and it would almost startle me at times to come upon a reminder that I wasn’t reading a more contemporary book.Midnight Blue does include references to period events and individuals such as Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt and the explosion at the armory known to history as the Delft Thunderclap. Catrin’s interest in painting was not unheard of for a woman of her time but it was unusual.Overall it was a good read and I found the book to be full of twists and turns that surprised me. The ending was a little bit, oh I don’t know if flat or rushed is the better word but it left me just a touch unsatisfied. Maybe that’s the difference from one culture to the next but I just wanted a little more. Or maybe it was just me. Who knows. But it was a good read.
  • (3/5)
    The old adage is never judge a book by its cover, but wow, this is a beautiful cover. The text of the book is what matters to most readers, though, and this is a book a reader of historical fiction will enjoy. Other reviewers have given fine synopses, so I won't go through that again. I will say that this story of a woman's life in Holland's Golden Age should appeal to those who like stories of women who survive and thrive in spite of all the obstacles in their paths. I learned a lot about Delft pottery, Dutch art, and ordinary life in those times. The only reservation I have about the book is some anachronistic language (perhaps that's the translation? IDK). Otherwise, a quick and interesting read, perfect for a leisurely weekend. Thanks to the Early Reviewer program for the opportunity to read and review this book.
  • (3/5)
    Catrin is a talented woman in Amsterdam in an age where the Dutch realism and pottery are all the rage. The only problem is that she is a woman and that means that she has not apprenticed with anyone nor has she had a mentor or master teacher so she is unable to apply to the Guild and sell her pictures. She also happens to be on the run after her first husband passed suddenly. This is the remarkable tale of a woman whose artistic talent is recognized by Rembrandt and Vermeer, whose innovative pottery designs are in high demand but must still bend to the will of men. A talented American debut for Simone Van Der Vlugt.
  • (3/5)
    Finished Midnight Blue this evening! This one just came out this last week, and it was a pretty quick, easy read.Here's a quick rundown of the overall storyline (without spoilers). We're introduced to our main character, Catrin, who we meet at the funeral of her husband. There seems to be some gossip around the town as to the manner of his death, and Catrin, wanting to leave this atmosphere as well as strike off on her own as a free, independent woman, heads off in the direction of Amsterdam to start a new life, hopefully gaining employment as a housekeeper. Catrin loves painting, and her new mistress begins receiving lessons from one of Rembrandt's apprentices (the back of the book is misleading in that it leads the reader to think that Rembrandt has a larger role than he actually does - he only really appears on one-two pages). These lessons put Catrin on a journey which lands her in a position to paint pottery (the historical connection being the Delft Blue Pottery of The Netherlands). Along the way, she meets a handful of different men that forge friendships and romances, as well as one who seems to have some ulterior motives. Overall, I enjoyed it decently enough, though the storyline was fairly simple. I think this book had so much potential to be a really rich story with The Netherlands’ Delft Blue pottery at its heart. Unfortunately, the story took a path of its own and left me feeling as if I had just followed along a plot line via the interstate with its big billboards rather than the scenic route with all its hidden gems. The dialogue was really simplistic, especially in the first half or so of the book. To me, it read more like a Young Adult novel rather than literary historical fiction. The back of the book led the reader to believe that the art part would be such a huge portion of the story - that we'd get lost in the world of Dutch painters and the world of The Netherlands in the 1600s ... but instead we jumped from one event to another. The romances (which were quick to develop and felt out of place) seemed to ultimately take over the story to the point where, once I finished the book, was saddened that the Delft Blue didn't have a much stronger portion of the story. I wanted to get lost in detail, to have characters developed, and watch their relationships grow and change as the history around them took place, but I didn't really get any of that. I think this had such potential and I think the editors should've suggested that certain scenes and chapters be blown up bigger - more detail, more rich and atmospheric. It would've turned this book into a much larger tome, but it could've had more of a 'Pillars of the Earth' feel rather than what we got instead.BUT, that all being said, it made for a content summer read for this damp June evening! (And, at the very least, the cover is absolutely gorgeous!)
  • (3/5)
    I've always loved the blue and white Chinese porcelain, so when I saw the cover of Midnight Blue, it immediately captured my attention. Set in 17th century Netherlands, the book tells the story of a young woman with a talent for painting that stumbles into the world of pottery making and how her talent sets her life on a new course.Catrin finds herself widowed and alone in Amsterdam with a big secret and the hope that no one will discover her secret. She is hired by a pottery maker who soon discovers her talent and the story really picks up after that. I did expect a bit more historic detail about the blue delft pottery, but in spite of that, I really enjoyed the story. I recommend this book to readers who love historical fiction, the Netherlands, and the blue and white porcelain.
  • (5/5)
    Find a book about the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic and chances are I'm already there, reveling in the splendor of a world long faded. Similar to "The Miniaturist" in setting, "Midnight Blue" takes a look at the other half of the VOC, trading within the borders of its motherland what many now associate as being Dutch: Delft Blue porcelain. Set among the story of Catrin, a young widow hoping to leave her past behind in pursuit of work in Amsterdam, Simone van der Vlugt paints a vivid story while displaying the vibrant history of Dutch pottery. I know I'll come back to this book time and again.
  • (5/5)
    First i fell in love with the cover, you will too if you are a fan of ...blue! THEN you open and being to read .... the pages fall away as you become immersed in the story-line of Catrin. A widow in hiding, who struggles to make her way in Amsterdam and is extraordinarily talented. Another one for my treasure shelf!
  • (4/5)
    I received a proof of this novel from the Early Reviewers program.I enjoyed the story. To some extent, this is historical fiction and it was interesting to learn a bit about 17th century Netherlands. The events are real; most of the characters imagined. The only character that didn't seem realistic to me was Catrin, the heroine of the book, who acts in ways that simply aren't consistent with the times. The other characters seemed much more believable.The language is adequate, but there are some odd phrases. I don't know if this is the author's fault or the translator's. I'd classify it as a good beach read.
  • (4/5)
    Good story. However I felt the language used was much to modern for the time period and really kind of bothered me. It should have been much more formal. I'm wondering if this is just because of the translation from Dutch. Still a good yarn, a likely spunky heroine who whether she means to or not does create problems for herself by making bad choices. Interesting bits about Delft Pottery (Dutch Porcelain) as well.She does overcome in the end and comes out a winner of sorts. Recommended, a nice summer read.
  • (3/5)
    Fleeing harsh gossip and seeking adventure, Catrin, the young widow of an abusive husband, leaves her small Dutch village in the mid 1600’s. She ends up in the bustling city of Amsterdam working as a housekeeper to a wealthy merchant. A series of lucky breaks and misfortunes lead her to develop and make use of her artistic talent in the burgeoning field of Dutch blue and white pottery. A light, engaging, and escapist read, Midnight Blue weaves enough actual events and famous figures into the story to mandate a few Wikipedia searches while reading. The story itself is gripping (I could see it as a movie) but lacking in plausibility. I would recommend this to fans of Chick Lit Historical Fiction. Similar books I have read and enjoyed include those by Susan Vreeland and Tracy Chevalier, The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal, and Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach.
  • (3/5)
    The high point of my artistic career is a self-portrait, drawn in marker, and forever captured on a melamine plate from pre-school more than four decades ago. I was so advanced for my age I even remembered to give myself eyelashes. If that’s not long-lasting genius and a genuine artistic legacy, I don’t know what is. It may not be the Mona Lisa but surely it’s up there with beautiful ceramics like Chinese porcelain and Delftware. OK, maybe not; my talent may not be one for the ages but we do know how it developed (or didn’t). We don’t actually know which potter came up with the idea for Delft Blue, just that it was a cheaper but incredibly popular alternative to Chinese porcelain and came to prominence in the 1650s. Simone van der Vlugt has written a fictional beginning for the rise of these blue and white decorative pieces, assigning the inspiration for the pottery to an artistic, young widow from a rural Dutch village in the novel, Midnight Blue.Catrin Barentsdochter endured much in her brief marriage: the premature birth and death of her baby and terrible abuse from her husband. She’s not sorry he’s dead only a year into their life together and after selling her inheritance from him, she leaves her family and the small village of De Rijp behind for a housekeeper position in a larger town nearby. When that falls through, she ends up going to Amsterdam and it is there that her artistic talent is accidentally discovered. The past she's fleeing catches up with her though and she runs even farther, ending up working at a pottery owned by the brother of her previous employer. Not only is Catrin a good painter, she is innovative and astute, suggesting to her kindly boss that they try to mimic the blue and white pieces of Chinese porcelain that are all the rage. And so Delft Blue is born. But Catrin’s past won’t stay away and her life and the revelation of her huge secret is threatened again.Van der Vlugt weaves pivotal and fascinating Delft history in with her story of this determined young woman, credibly placing Catrin near the gunpowder explosion and fire that destroyed much of Delft in 1654 and in the midst of the rampaging plague epidemic of 1655. The details of pottery making included here are not extensive but are incredibly interesting nonetheless. Catrin is a practical and generally strong character although occasionally her actions and language seem anachronistic for a woman in the 1650s. Whether that is a function of the author’s writing or of the translation is hard to tell. The secondary characters are fairly one dimensional and the ending is quite neat and convenient given the reality and fragility of life at the time. There is a romance that feels rather rushed and could have used elaboration but even as it stands, it does drive the story forward and figures into Catrin’s decisions several times. Fans of historical fiction will find this an easy, fast, and generally engaging read set at a time and a place not often found in English language works and they might even be inspired to learn a little more about the actual pottery and of Delft’s place in the Dutch Golden Age.