Darling Blue by Tracy Rees
Publishing Date: 1st November 2018
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 576
Genre: Historical Fiction
Blue lives a charmed life. From her family’s townhouse in Richmond, she lives the life of luxury and couldn’t want for anything – well, on the surface at least.
Then on the night of her twenty-first birthday her father makes a startling toast: he will give his daughter’s hand to whichever man can capture her heart best in the form of a love letter. But Blue has other ideas and, unwilling to play at her father’s bewildering games, she sets out on her own path to find her own destiny…
“Darling Blue”, set in 1920’s London, follows the story of three women – Blue, Midge and Delphine and their families. It starts at Blue’s 21st birthday – her “coming of age”, when her father announces that the possible suitors should woe his daughter by letters. While marriage is not what Blue is looking for at the moment – she’d rather focus on her career as a writer – she’s horrified. But what is done is done and what is said is said and soon Blue receives a few letters that are going to change her life.
Soon after her birthday she meets Delphine, who has escaped a very abusive marriage – she never wants to return to her previous life but is it possible? However, no matter what, Blue and her family takes Delphine under their wings.
Tracy Rees takes us again on a journey in the past, in a different time – zone again. This time it’s Richmond in London in 1920’s and, as usual, she presents us with beautiful, vivid and rich descriptions of the setting, the weather, the clothes and she easily captures the atmosphere of the times, and she pays a great attention to deatils and has a great eye for them. It was, on the surface, a light – hearted story with lovely and kind characters, but deep down touching upon some serious issues, such like bullying or post – natal depression. To be honest, such depth and seriousness really surprised me, especially after the light beginning, but Tracy Rees has already got me used to the fact that she’s not afraid to write about some more sensitive stuff.
This book follows stories of three different women. Blue’s real name is Ishbel and she’s adored everywhere. Her stepmother Midge has problems of her own and she has a huge secret. But as much as you could think it’s going to be about Darling Blue, it equally focuses on the lives of Midge and Delphine, and it was a great move, to be honest, as those two women add tons of significance to this book. In my opinion, they were simply better developed and rounded than Blue, although please don’t get me wrong, she was also an interesting character that had something to say, and her desire to work and be independent was adorable. On the other hand, she was a little too self – absorbed and I had a feeling that she likes when the whole world is running in circles around her. But there was enough empathy in her, she was a great friend and open person and it was not hard to like her.
But altogether I only had a feeling that the characters were just too simple for such an author as Tracy Rees – they were either perfect and incredibly kind, or awfully unpleasant, and sometimes this just felt unrealistic.
Basically, it was a story about one year in a family’s life, though a very turbulent one. Mostly, it was well paced though there were some moments that if dragged a bit. Also, as much as I love a happy end, here it left me feel a little insatiable as the actions of one of the characters were forgotten quite quickly and quite easily, and she was welcomed back to the family without a word, and it was this little bit unrealistic, non – credible and little bit rushed, and I also had a feeling that maybe the author didn’t have a better idea how to solve this particular subplot? Also, as much as I appreciated the mysteries in this book, I quickly guessed what was going to happen. I also had a feeling that there was a very long build – up to them and then, when it finally came to the revelations, it was too rapid and not dealt with, just done and forgotten.
“Darling Blue” is a book that isn’t mostly about actions and events but mostly about characters, feelings and emotions. They are written in a gentle and captivating way that makes the pace bearable and I was actually glued to the pages – yes, waiting for something to happen, as I could feel with my whole body that there is something going to happen, but at the same time perfectly entertained by the distinctive voices of the characters. It was a great historical fiction about family, love, friendship, grief and forgiveness, with a great sense of period and written in a beautiful, colourful and detailed way that is going to sweep you off your feet for a few hours. While “Amy Snow”, Tracy Rees’s debut novel remains still my favourite of hers, I can say that with “Darling Blue” she’s following closely. Recommended!
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