Monday, January 08, 2018

The Pearl Thief

You know that phenomenon when you learn about something new and then suddenly it's all around you and you can't escape it? Last year I fell down this weird rabbit hole of "bogs" and stuff that gets preserved in them - first in the form of 2000 year-old-butter that was found in an Irish Bog ("What even is a bog?" is a question I asked myself back in those antediluvian days). That story was naturally a frequent topic of conversation with our foodie friends, all of whom were, of course, well-read in the subject of world-butter-revelations. Then I watched some British mystery about a body found in a bog, slightly clearing up the question of what a bog is with helpful visuals. Then I fell deeper in the rabbit hole when I happened upon a fascinating long-read in the Smithsonian about Tollund Man, which is about you guessed it: ancient human sacrifices perfectly preserved in European bogs!

THEN, seemingly unrelated to all of that, I read The Pearl Thief, which I was so invested in I ordered it straight from Across The Pond, having previously been obsessed with Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, although not so much Rose Under Fire, its sequel.  (For those of you keeping score, you'll notice all this news and the British publication all happened around June '17 and that is just how very, very far behind I am in my book bloggin'.)  In it, Julie Beaufort-Stuart returns to her grandfather's castle-estate in Scotland for one last summer before it is sold.  Julie immediately befriends some local Travellers who are long-time visitors to her family's land and thus is introduced some sympathetic and didactic history of Travellers in the area and the discrimination and abuse they often suffered. There are several mysteries that must be solved not least among them a BODY FOUND IN A BOG!  (Spoiler!) Which of course I immediately knew was an ancient triple-death sacrifice.

Julie is a beloved character from Code Name Verify and it is wonderful to get to spend more time with her. The Pearl Thief precedes that story in the narrative so the reader sees the open-hearted, privileged young woman before the war.  Hints of Julie's fluid sexuality are confirmed and her feisty, honest nature is further solidified.

Although The Pearl Thief occasionally reads as if it's truly written for a younger audience, being mildly over-didactic and specifically inclusive in a way that YA books sometimes are, over-all the book was very charming and had interesting things to say about living with history and how history, naturally, informs the present.  Also, Julie has Schiaparelli blouse that I spent a lot of time imagining.

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