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It's 1654, and Catrin, a young widow who lives in a small Dutch farm community, is plagued by rumors that she was somehow involved in her husband's sudden death. When the opportunity to take a housekeeper position in Amsterdam arrives, she jumps at the chance. Catrin enjoys her life in the big city and is especially intrigued by her mistress's painting lessons, even though her mistress hasn't much talent; she longs to try her hand at painting herself. But her past catches up with her, and Catrin feels compelled to move again, this time to the smaller city of Delft where she finds as a pottery painter, relying on her talent in in depicting scenes in midnight blue. Will she be able to escape her past once again, or will her secrets come to light?
On the whole, this was an interesting story that depicts the hardships and limitations faced by women in the seventeenth century and the strength of those who, like Catrin, took them on. Details of life in the art world and the rise of the Delft pottery industry are also intriguing, and Catrin befriends a number of artists, including young Vermeer. The plague features prominantly--as does, inevitably romance (wait--make that plural). But Midnight Blue is more than the usual historical romance. There are a number of twists and turns as the plot develops, and Catrin is a fairly complex character, if somewhat defined by the times in which she lives. Simone van der Vlugt is a Dutch writer, but a few of her books have been translated into English; however, since they are all crime novels or thrillers, I will not be looking for them.
The reader was very good, except she made too many of the male characters sound like they had marbles in their mouths.
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