Midnight Blue By Simone van der Vlugt, translated by Jenny Watson.


The Blurb:

A gripping story of ambition and heartbreak set against the backdrop of the fascinating Dutch Golden Age.

Amsterdam, 1654: following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five year old Catrijn leaves her small village and takes a job as housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt merchant family. Her new life is vibrant and exciting in a city at the peak of its powers: commerce, science and art are flourishing and the ships leaving Amsterdam bring back exotic riches from the Far East.

When an unwelcome figure from her past threatens her new life, Catrijn flees to Delft. There, her painting talent earns her a chance to try out as a pottery painter. Slowly, the workshop begins to develop a new type of pottery to rival the coveted Chinese porcelain – and Delft Blue is born. But when tragedy strikes, Catrijn has a hard choice to make.

Rich and engrossing, Midnight Blue is perfect for fans of Tulip Fever and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

My Review:

“Midnight Blue”, written by Dutch author Simone Van Der Vlugt and translated by Jenny Watson is an interesting book.

It follows a short period in the life of a Dutch woman, Catrin. During this time, she marries Govert, but very soon, she realises her mistake, as Govert is a wife beater. It is with a certain amount of relief that her husband dies quite soon after their marriage, but Catrin feels she must sell her property and leave her home village. On her travels, she works in a several towns and cities, including Amsterdam and Delft.

The year or so in which we come to know Catrin is a tumultuous time for her. She falls in love, discovers a great talent for painting pottery, but also faces uncertainty and threats from her past. The plague is also a fearful enemy. As I read this story, I came to admire Catrin more and more. Some of her choices in life may not have been completely sound or moral, but her ability to rise above adversity is admirable, I think. I found that I cared about what became of her and followed her tale with interest.

Although set in the 17th century, this is a genre-defying novel. Yes, it is historical, but it is also a murder mystery and a love story, which makes it appealing on several levels. I also enjoyed the descriptions of Holland and especially of Delft; for anyone interested in the development of Dutch Porcelain, this is a good read, as the process is described in considerable detail. Using some real historical figures in the story also piqued my interest – Quentin and Angelika van Cleynhoven, Rembrandt, Nicolaes Maes and Johannes Vermeer are all part of this novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Midnight Blue” and wish to thank Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review.

About the Author:

Simone van der Vlugt is an acclaimed Dutch author, well known for her young adult novels. The reunion was her debut novel for adults, it sold over 200,000 copies and was translated into German, French and English.

The author was born in Hoorn and started writing at an early age, submitting her first manuscript to a publisher at 13 years of age. Her first published novel (The Amulet, 1995, a historical novel about witch persecution, for children) was written while working as a secretary at a bank. She went on to write ten further historical novels for young adults.

In 2004 Simone Van der Vlugt wrote her first novel for adults, The Reunion, a psychological suspense thriller. This was followed by another six standalone crime novels. In 2012 she started a series of detective stories featuring Lois Elzinga, based in Alkmaar.

Van der Vlugt lives with her husband and two children in Alkmaar.






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