Coop de Book Review ~ Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss

Right, so Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss really reminded me of some of the more historically dense YAs that were optional additional reads in grade school. You know, like The Tamarack Tree.

Since I was a total nerd, I always enjoyed these books (and read ALL of them, blowing the curve), but there is an element of old fashioned-ness to them. And by that I mean not just in the content but in the style of writing. In this, Strauss reminds me of Lois Lowry and other Newberry-winning types. There’s a literary component to her work that I struggled with a little. Perhaps I carry baggage after suffering the slings and arrows of writing genre in an anti-genre world (particularly that with a romance or commercial bent). But this kind of book feels like, well, work to me.

I’m not slagging it off, I swear. I still carry great affection for something like Gathering Blue. But that doesn’t mean it’s a particularly fun read. Rewarding yes. Educational, certainly. But sometimes a bit exhausting. This was not a book I picked up and gobbled. It’s a book I had to nibble at, a little each night.

I learned a whole lot about this place and time. I’m not particularly familiar with 15th-century Italian Renaissance, apart from some affection for movies like Dangerous Beauty. I found the details on painting and pigments interesting from a materials archaeology perspective, and convent stuff utterly fascinating.

“Nor had she known that nuns were allowed to drink wine. But then, she thought, almost everything in this house is something I thought nuns weren’t allowed. From the talk she had heard in the novice dormitory, she knew that choir nuns lived more comfortably than conversae—much more comfortably, in many cases—but she had never imagined such opulence.”

I was particularly taken with the idea of the power of autonomy that becoming a nun granted aristocratic women of this time period.

“I am Christ’s bride, and no human man may command me!” For an instant, her bright face was fierce. “Nor do I need to fear dying in childbed, as my mother did. I am not one of those who sees Santa Marta as a prison.” She bit into one of the little cakes. “For me, it is the greatest freedom a woman can possess.”

This reminded me of Arcangela Tarabotti, the nun upon whom I drew much inspiration for Alexia’s heritage, and from whom her last name is taken.

{Gail’s monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse }


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

William Logsdail (British artist, 1859 – 1944)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Octopus ‘Adorabilis’?

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
The Peerage & The Stage

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Lady’s writing desk, 1780 – 90, France via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Book News:
Book Chick City says of Etiquette & Espionage: “Once again, Carriger drew me in from the beginning with her talk of dirigibles and tea, not to mention the vast array of fashions we are treated to during the course of the book.“

Quote of the Day:
“When they finished laughing they were on their way to being not just friends, but the dearest of friends, the sort of friends whose lives are shaped by the friendship.”
~ Robin McKinley, Spindle’s End


Posted by Gail Carriger


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