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The Blue

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  571 ratings  ·  117 reviews
In eighteenth century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities; fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.

For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of int
Paperback, 439 pages
Published December 3rd 2018 by Endeavour Quill
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Nancy Bilyeau I really think you would enjoy it, yes. It's historical fiction with a strong female character, suspenseful but not violent, romance but no graphic…moreI really think you would enjoy it, yes. It's historical fiction with a strong female character, suspenseful but not violent, romance but no graphic sex. It's selling out on paperback on amazon, the best way to order it is through Book Depository, free delivery worldwide: (less)
Nancy Bilyeau Definitely. It is not part of any series and it's about a woman's struggle in another century, told with suspense. If your club likes historical…moreDefinitely. It is not part of any series and it's about a woman's struggle in another century, told with suspense. If your club likes historical fiction, yes.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  571 ratings  ·  117 reviews

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Amalia Gavea
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
‘’London is alive. And so am I.’’

18th century, England. Genevieve comes from a Huguenot family that found shelter in England, persecuted in their own country due to their religious beliefs. In a time when the war with France is raging, Genevieve has to fight her own battle to acquire the right to be acknowledged for her talent to create beauty. Apart from the military conflict, there is an ongoing race for the finest porcelain and the creation of the most unique and powerful of colors. The col
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
This antique lover loved this book!

In the 1700s, porcelain is at the center of London in every way. It is traded like money and is possibly more valuable.

Genevieve Planche is an English born descendent of Huguenots, and she longs to be a painter. Venice is where she anticipates accomplishing her dream.

Sir Gabriel Courtney and Genevieve cross paths, and he offers her the chance to go to Venice…if she works for him on a special task: finding out the secret behind the color blue.

With this assig
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
England and France were embroiled in war on many fronts in 1758. The Seven Years War was raging. French, God-fearing Huguenots continued to seek refuge in England. Political and religious unrest produced fertile ground for spying. Ask Sir Gabriel Courtenay, a most unscrupulous nobleman. Sir Gabriel made Genevieve Planche an offer she couldn't refuse.

Genevieve was a third generation descendant from a line of French Huguenot refugees. She lived with her grandfather, Pierre Billiou, in Spitalfields
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"In eighteenth century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities; fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.
For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of international repute, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London. If only she could reach Ven
Genevieve makes for a feisty, resourceful and independent-minded heroine. Finding her ambition to be an artist thwarted by her lack of independent means, her gender and the prejudices of the time, she unwillingly enters into a bargain that will see her come up against an equally resourceful but entirely unscrupulous adversary. Genevieve will soon discover that, when it comes to the search for the secret to creating something new and unique in the world of porcelain, there are men (and women) who ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read all historical fiction written by this author. I left no notes on my previous reads, so I will try to serve myself better with reminders of what I liked about this stand alone book exploring the world of porcelain during reign of Louis XV. Our narrator is a young unmarried woman who was endowed with modern day determination and rebellion, so that always gives me pause in reading historical fiction. Nevertheless, she carried us through the changing landscape however implausible much o ...more
Ok guys, I’m not going to beat around the bush about The Blue: this is simply the best historical novel I have read this year. I had already devoured and enjoyed three books by Nancy Bilyeau, set under the Tudors. The Blue surpasses them all.

A superb combination of plot and research, rich characters, suspenseful scenes, a smart ending: The Blue reveals the perfect formula for a historical mystery focused on industrial espionage in 18th century England. Will definitely be in your list of best of
Kate Quinn
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating blend of religious strife, industrial espionage, court politics, and heady romance--not to mention the mesmerizing, cutthroat maneuvering behind the 18th century porcelain trade. The heroine is delightful, and the villain fascinating. Definitely a winner!
Judith Starkston
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fast-paced action, passionate emotions, international intrigue and life or death stakes propel the reader through this outstanding historical thriller set in 18th century London, Derby and France.

Bilyeau depicts the world of 1758 with gorgeous detail. She immerses the reader, whether in the rough streets of London’s Spitalfields district where the refugee Huguenot silk-weavers ply their trade or in the newly opened British Museum where the aristocrats are as much on display as this “collection
Olga Miret
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
As soon as I read the description of this novel I was intrigued by the topic. I’ve read about the different fancies and frenzies that have taken societies (or at least the upper parts of them) by storm over history. Suddenly, something “new”
Erika Robuck
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Is there any reading more enjoyable than historical mystery that blends fact and fiction, and sends one straight to the internet seeking images to illuminate the already colorful prose between its pages? There is not, and THE BLUE, by Nancy Bilyeau, is just that kind of read.

Set in eighteenth century Europe, THE BLUE tells a fascinating and informative tale of hedonism, power, and how corrupt we mortals can become for our shiny objects and idols. The characters are spirited and flawed--there's n
Amy Bruno
Well my reading year just kicked off with a BANG! Nancy Bilyeau has truly written a masterpiece of a novel! It has everything I look for in a good historical fiction novel - to be education yet entertained, to be taken back in time and immersed in a new world, and I loved every minute I spent within the pages.

Genevieve is a young Hugenot woman living in England who yearns to become a painter in a time where women were not welcome.

"We are females that do not fit into the world we must live in."

Disclaimer: Digital ARC via the publisher

Genevieve has a problem. It isn’t that she is French living in England when relations between the two countries are not going well. It isn’t that she is Huguenot who cannot go to France because of that whole not-a-Catholic-we-slaughter-you thing.

Her grandfather got her a job. At a porcelain factory, painting on flowers and things.
In other words, he sold out her artistic talents because you know, in the days of Hogarth, women really didn’t do things li
If you're reading these reviews and star ratings prior to the publication date of December 3, please be aware that while a limited number of copies have been distributed to bloggers, circulation of the book prior to publication was extremely limited (no ARCs, no NetGalley, etc.) Nonetheless, some people who weren't on the blogger list have decided to hop on here and give the book a one-star rating. Please, if you're trying to decide whether or not to read the book, bear that fact in mind when ev ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Porcelain. Not what I thought would make for exciting reading, but in this fabulous book, it's a commodity that drives politics, espionage, and obsession.

I'm a longtime fan of Nancy Bilyeau's books: rich with drama and unforgettable characters, they are the kind of books that just sweep you up. Here, Bilyeau makes an industrial endeavor -- the 18th century passion for blue porcelain -- a captivating, dramatic story, centered on a winning heroine.

Genevieve Planché is a descendant of French Huguen
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Since reading the Joanna Stafford trilogy (The Crown, The Chalice and The Tapestry) a few years ago, I’ve been waiting and hoping for a new book from Nancy Bilyeau and here it is at last: The Blue. Bilyeau wrote so convincingly about Tudor England in the Joanna Stafford books that I was surprised to find she was switching to an entirely different period for this latest novel – the Seven Years War of 1756 to 1763, a war which involved most of Europe, with Britain and France on opposite sides. Set ...more
Jenny Q
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars. I very much enjoyed Nancy Bilyeau's Joanna Stafford trilogy, so I was excited to see she had a new book. In The Blue, she jumps forward two hundred years, leaving the Tudor era behind for the decadent Georgians, the scandalous court of Louis XV, and the porcelain rage that was sweeping Europe.

Genevieve Planche is a young Huguenot woman living in London with her grandfather, her family having fled religious persecution in France. A talented artist, Genevieve longs to do more than paint
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A suspenseful story about espionage in the 18th century porcelain industry. Genevieve is a realistically drawn and highly intriguing heroine. She’s strong and deeply independent and willing to risk anything for her dream of being an artist. Even if it means spying for a rival porcelain house in a race to discover a new shade of blue. Rich historical detail, great characterization and a nail-biting plot. Loved it!
Marie Z. Johansen
So Satisfying!

When I read about this books background I was a bit ambivalent...but once I began reading I became enthralled! At it’s heart this book is a romance; one between two people and another about a countries romance with porcelain and the color blue.

I learned so much from reading this book...and my continual fact checking confirmed that the excellent plot was based largely on facts. I have read other books by this author...and have enjoyed them all, but I think that with this book she ha
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pigeon-books
The best way to describe this book in a word is “colourful”. Set in the 18th century in both England (for the main part) and France, it is the tale of a feisty, smart, talented young woman Genevieve Planché, a French Huguenot living in England. Her quick wit and unusual outlook on most things immediately endear her to the reader. Being a talented artist, her dream is to draw under the pupillage of a master artist but in England, this is unthinkable for a woman. At the time, the most valued curre ...more
Kathleen Kelly
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
As with any book by Nancy, I always learn something. I never knew that the color blue had such a significant place in history. Genevieve Planché is an English born woman but is actually a Huguenot and absolutely hates the French and all they stand for, including the King. She aspires to be an artist, but of course, women in 1758 London are not taken seriously so she paints porcelain. She lives with her grandfather on Spitalfields, a questionable area to live in.

She meets Sir Gabriel Courtenay w
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have just finished reading this book as a serial with The Pigeonhole and it gripped me from the first stave to the last. I even found myself re-reading each day's portion just to stay close to the story. It seems a perfect blend of many themes that interest me: history, of course! Very good writing, with words beautifully chosen and put together. England, France, beauty, colour, art, science, religion, philosophy, faith, conviction, food, parties even! Generous dollops of romance, enigmatic vi ...more
Jo Barton
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
We have so much colour in our lives that we forget that there was a time when dyes and colours weren't as easily accessible. The Blue explores the details of the search for the perfect shade of blue, that dazzling, transcendent magic which transforms an ordinary piece of porcelain into the most prized possession. However, Genevieve Planché, is not really interested in the finer points of porcelain, what she wants is to become a respected artist, but as a woman in a man's world this is proving to ...more
I read this book through The Pigeonhole, a free online book club and read it with other readers on the web. It was split into 10 parts, called staves, that I read through the nifty Pigeonhole app.

I must admit I was first drawn to this book because of the stunning cover, plus I read the author's debut The Crown many years ago, so had high hopes for this book. I read this on The Pigeonhole a bit differently this time, instead of reading a stave each day I read the whole book over 24 hours, it was
Donna Maguire

I love this author’s books so I was delighted to see that she had a new release and jumped at the chance to get my hands on a copy!!

The story is excellent, well researched and executed brilliantly. I loved the plot and thought that it flowed very well. I was addicted to the story and loved the characterisation the author has with the book.

I love historical fiction and this is one of the best books in that genre that I have read in 2018!! It is another bril
Heather Webb
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Under Bilyeau’s skillful hand, I was swept into the 18th century and the fascinating world of porcelain. In fact, I found myself digging around online in a mini research quest of my own to look into different kinds of porcelain, its history, and the scandals surrounding it--a sign of a good book. What's more, the obsessive pursuit of beauty, secrets and invisible ink, and a heroine not afraid of tossing off the conventions of her very strict Huguenot upbringing to follow her dreams, all make for ...more
Julieta Almeida Rodrigues
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What I most loved about The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau is the idea! How art and money combine to form a magnificent 18th century tale of international espionage. As the daughter of a Portuguese collector who did not miss a porcelain sale in the famous Lisbon auction houses, I was brought up with the notion that the blue to be found in exclusive pieces was invaluable. As a child, I lived with these pieces around me. As an adult reader, I loved going back to The Blue and see how, in retrospective, my f ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Crime fiction is primarily a literature of human behavior under extreme moral pressure. At its worst, it is sensationalist and emotionally shallow at one extreme, and escapist and emotionally inauthentic at the other. But at its best, it is a contemplation on the power of evil acting upon both the innocent and the culpable, the dangers and rewards of shadowy compromise on the one hand and moral inflexibility on the other, and the confused morass of human motivations and interactions.

Good histori
Davida Chazan
I couldn't wait to post my review of this fascinating novel, so here's the link
Juliet Bookliterati
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Blue is a historical novel set in the eighteenth century and centres around the periods obsession with porcelain.  Porcelain was a luxurious commodity, very much in demand for those who could afford it, and there was great rivalry between the different potteries.  The Blue follows Genevieve, a descendant of Huguenot refugees, whose dream it is to become an artist.  Following her dream is not that easy, so her cousin gets her a position as a decorator at a pottery in Derby.  A chance encounte ...more
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Nancy is a writer and magazine editor, a graduate of the University of Michigan who worked as an editor at "Rolling Stone," "InStyle" and "Good Housekeeping." She wrote a trilogy of award-winning Tudor mysteries, published in 9 countries: "The Crown," "The Chalice," and "The Tapestry." Her new book is "The Blue," a novel of suspense set in the rivalrous art and porcelain worlds of 18th century Eur ...more
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