Writer: Tracy Chevalier
Publisher: Gramedia Pustaka Utama (2006)
Pages: 353 p
Bought at: vixxio.com (IDR 23k)
Ella Turner’s life changed when she moved to France with her husband, Rick. They lived in a nice small town called Lisle Sur Tarn, but Ella felt almost everyone in the town didn’t welcome her into their community. To distract her mind, Ella decided to trace back her family history, which had French origin. She didn’t expect to connect with a woman from her past, Isabelle du Moulin, who lived more than 400 years ago.
Isabelle, who was also called La Rousse because of her red hair, lived in an era where Calvinist was just emerged and getting lots of followers in many places in France, replacing the fading Catholicism. Catholics were said as immoral people, especially because of their tradition involving Virgin Mary. Even though Isabelle knew she couldn’t worship The Virgin anymore, deep down she still prayed to Virgin Mary. She admired the color of Virgin’s Mary cloth, the Virgin Blue.
Strangely, this color also appeared in Ella’s dream, connected her to her ancestor. Ella tried to solve the secret of this mysterious color, tracing her past with the help of her new friends, Jean Paul and Mathilde. But she didn’t prepare to face the dirtiest history.
I heard so many praises for Tracy Chevalier’s works, that’s why I’m kinda obsessed with collecting her books, especially because the translated version were hard to be found. This is actually my first experience reading Tracy’s book and to tell the truth, I was disappointed. The idea behind this story, about two women connected to a sacred tradition of Virgin Mary, is quite interesting. The historical setting, France in an era where religions became the reason to be violent, was also great. I particularly like the way Tracy wrote the book in two different perspectives, Ella and Isabelle, separated 400 years.
But honestly, I can’t understand why Tracy wrote such a good book with a very annoying main character. I can relate well with Isabelle, her struggle and thirst of hope. But I can’t feel any empathy for Ella. She’s so self centered, full of justification of herself, and weak. I also did not get it why there should be a subplot about love affair inside the beautiful story lines. This is so unnecessary, making me feel bad reading the book. The ending had many loopholes, and I feel like I want to punch Ella after finishing this book. A bit harsh, but that’s how I truly felt. I really hope my next experience with Tracy’s books will be much much better!
TRIVIA: unrelated to the book, but do you know that Virgin Blue is also the name of a budget airline under Virgin Group by Richard Branson? It’s launched in 2000 and flew mostly in Oceania part of the world, including from Denpasar to Australia =) Now Virgin Blue changed its name into Virgin Australia.