Thursday 1 November 2018

Review | Darling Blue by Tracy Rees

Published by Quercus on November 1, 2018

Darling Blue is the first book I have read by Tracy Rees but I am determined that it wont be my last. It was a mesmerising, beautifully written novel with an eye-catching blurb that delivered in the 500+ pages that followed.

In Darling Blue, we meet Blue herself on her 21st birthday. In a grand party, Blue's dad Kenneth makes a big speech declaring his plan to rid her of her single status. He tells all the guests at the party that anybody who wins Blue's heart with an anonymous love letter could have her hand in marriage. Blue doesn't stay mad at her dad for long, after all, nobody is really going to send her a letter to try and win her heart. If anybody was interested, they would approach the matter normally, surely. But it doesn't take long at all before Blue receives her first love letter.

I loved the unusual concept of this book. It had me fascinated throughout. As soon as I saw the blurb, I knew I wanted to read the book and it did not disappoint one bit. It was absolutely captivating and a surprising read which kept me up long into the night reading. The pacing and the building of the characters and their stories was spot on, moving and engaging with the perfect amount of drama that had me absorbed all the way through.

Darling Blue is not simply the story of Blue. We also follow two other leading characters in Midge and Delphine. I warmed to Midge straight away. When we meet her, she is feeling a little bit disillusioned with her marriage to Kenneth, but she fears being pushed aside and losing everything - her husband, her step daughters and her home - if she speaks up. In contrast to Midge, Delphine, rather than feeling left behind in her relationship, has felt the suffocation of hers. All three of these women have their flaws and they are not cookie-cutter, overly likeable people, which kept me interested in their stories.

The book is set in the 1920s and I loved the setting. It was evocatively written. From the beginning, the feeling of being by the river, of seeing and hearing the ducks helped me both relax into the book and picture it vividly, as it was an appealing setting to me. The authors descriptions were subtle but attentive and a lot of the details were told really beautifully. The atmosphere and the representation of life for different women in the 1920s were both also portrayed well by the author who delivered a well-rounded and very strong book.

Darling Blue was a book I didn't want to put down. I enjoyed every chapter and was sad when it came to an end. I am looking forward to reading more from Tracy Rees.

Many thanks to Ella Patel at Quercus for sending me a copy of Darling Blue to review.

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