Book Lists

Book Review: The Fugitive Colours

By Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date:  May 12, 2022

306 Pages (Kindle edition)

I was originally drawn to this story because the main character is a Huguenot living in Spitalfields.  I don’t find a lot of historical fiction focused on Huguenots, either in France or in England, so that definitely piqued my interest.  But I got a lot more than that.  The plot also encompasses the burgeoning art scene in 18th century London, French spies at the close of the Seven Year War, and a quick foray into alchemy.

This is the second installment in the Genevieve Planché series and while I haven’t read the first book, the author does such a good job of bringing the reader up to speed on what happened before this novel starts, I may not have to.  Which, I suppose, is a double edged sword since I don’t feel the need to run out and buy the first novel, but I was fully engaged in this one without having to wonder what the heck the author was referring to in the backstory.

I bring that up because due to the main character’s involvement in espionage in the first novel, her husband Thomas, a chemist (or natural philosopher), can no longer do any work with colors.  This sets up a multi-layered conflict in this novel. 

“The Fugitive Colours” interpreted by Wombo Dream

I’ll admit, I had a hard time getting into the book at first.  It begins with a prologue that gave me the impression this was going to be more of a thriller.  While it’s most definitely suspenseful, it’s not a break-neck thriller, which was fine, but the pacing in the first few chapters felt slow due to my expectations.  Once I settled into the story and Genevieve’s day to day life juggling her business of creating paintings for silk, playing referee between her two employees, and maintaining a household with a young child and less than responsible servants, I was engrossed.  The historical details are superb and the author seamlessly moves from the world of artisans to spymasters and from affluent neighborhoods to Covent Gardens.  Woven into the large cast of interesting and fully formed fictional characters are a parade of real historic figures.

I realize I didn’t actually write a blurb for this book but there’s so much going on, multiple storylines that were all wrapped up plausibly AND managed to hint at another installment (I hope), that my entire review probably would have been spent on the summary.  Suffice it to say that I finished the book satisfied and supremely impressed at the level of immersive historic detail.

I rated this novel a solid four stars.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley and Lume Books for providing the ARC copy of this novel.  I have left my review honestly and voluntarily.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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