Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing.
Release date: November 6th 2012.
Hardcover, 352 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Source: Received from author for review.
Reviewed by: Jen
When seventeen-year-old Giulia, the orphaned, illegitimate daughter of a Milanese nobleman, learns she’s to be packed off to a life behind convent walls, she begs an astrologer-sorcerer for a talisman that will secure what she’s certain is her heart’s desire: true love and a place where she belongs. But does she really know the compass of her heart? The convent of Santa Marta is full of surprises, including a workshop of nuns who are creating paintings of astonishing beauty using a luminous blue mixed from a secret formula: Passion Blue. As Giulia’s own artistic self is awakened she’s torn: should she follow the young man who promises to help her escape? Or stay and satisfy her growing desire to paint?This richly imagined novel of a girl’s daring journey towards self-discovery transports readers into the fascinating world of Renaissance Italy where love and faith and art inspire passion – of many different hues.
Victoria Strauss’ Passion Blue takes readers to a place not often visited in many fantasies: a convent filled with artistic and mysterious nuns. The unique setting of this story is one of the many aspects that make Passion Blue a standout in a highly competitive genre.
At the beginning of her adventure Seventeen-year-old Giulia learns that her fate is not anywhere near what she had hoped it would be. Having been foretold that she would not be lucky in marriage Giulia, an orphan, is sent to live in a convent to begin her training as a novice. Not the path many seventeen-year-old girls would take, but since the story takes place during the 15th century Giulia is not left with many options. From the outset Giulia decides that she will do whatever it takes to get away from Santa Marta and change her fate in order to find her one true love. That is until she is invited to join an elite group of artists within the convent who create beautiful paintings using a highly coveted and secret shade of blue paint called Passion Blue. Just when Giulia begins thinking that life at Santa Marta might not be so terrible a mysterious rogue named Oramanno enters the picture and turns her quiet life upside-down.
I am not usually a fan of historical fiction and after sixteen years of Catholic schooling nuns are not high on my favorites list either. Yet, the idea of a girl forced into servitude during the Renaissance intrigued me. In a way, the plot reminded me of Emerald by Karen Wallace, another historical fiction that I did not think I would like, but ended up loving. While Giulia’s character is not as spunky as Wallace’s heroine I did find myself endeared to her and commiserating with her as she struggled to decide what her fate actually meant.
I would love to tell you all about the romance in this book, but I am afraid of giving too much away, so I will just say that despite the setting there is romance and leave it at that. Besides romance this story also has adventure and intrigue. Although the first few chapters went by a bit slowly the story picks up once Giulia enters the painting workshop. As the pace of the story picks up, so does the plot and its twists and turns. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the story is the conflict that Giulia has within herself as she works to discover what it is she really wants in life and the true meaning of her fate.
Passion Blue was a very enlightening read that kept me guessing in parts, while cheering in others. The villains are vile and the heroines are virtuous, but not everything in this tale was as it seemed and that was definitely the best part!