19 July 2019

Review: The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth

The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth book cover
* Copy courtesy of Penguin Random House *

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.

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My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

  1. Looks like you enjoyed this one as much as I did! Kate is such a skilled writer, she really can turn her hand to any historical period with ease.

    1. Yes I did. Kate Forsyth remains one of my favourite Australian authors and the research behind The Blue Rose really impressed me. I think Bitter Greens is still my favourite of hers though. Sheer perfection :-)

  2. Ah... let down by the ending. That happens FAR too often. Oh well, still sounds pretty good. Thanks!

    1. Davida, I wouldn't say I was let down by the ending, just that the timing of the ending seemed a little too perfect. The ending itself was satisfying though. I hope you give it a go.

  3. I really enjoyed this too, as I do all of her books. I agree the ending was perhaps a little neat, but I do like a HEA

    1. Thanks Shelleyrae, I can already see this is going to be another bestseller.


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