Silkweavers, painters and spies in Georgian England: The Fugitive Colours by Nancy Bilyeau #bookreview #TheFugitiveColours #NetGalley

The highly anticipated follow-up to the sweeping historical thriller The Blue is a story of silkweavers, painters…and spies.
As Genevieve Sturbridge struggles to keep her silk design business afloat, she must face the fact that London in 1764 is very much a man’s world. Men control the arts and sciences, men control politics and law. And men definitely control women.
A Huguenot living in Spitalfields, Genevieve one day receives a surprise invitation from an important artist. Grasping at the promise of a better life, she dares to hope her luck is about to change and readies herself for an entry into the world of serious art.
She soon learns that for the portrait painters ruling over the wealthy in London society, fame and fortune are there for the taking. But such high stakes spur rivalries that darken to sabotage and blackmail—and even murder.
Genevieve begins to suspect that her own secret past, when she was caught up in conspiracy and betrayal, has more to do with her entrée into London society than her talent. One wrong move could cost her not just her artistic dreams but the love of those she holds dear.
It’s a delicate dance, and a dangerous situation. And not just for Genevieve and her loved ones. . . because all the while there are ruthless spies who wish harm to England itself watching from the shadows.


Hi and welcome to my review of The Fugitive Colours!

Published four years after The Blue, The Fugitive Colours continues the story of Genevieve Planché, now Mrs Sturbridge. I had a great time reading The Blue via The Pigeonhole back in 2018, even though I wasn’t much of a hist fic reader at the time. The Blue was definitely one of the books that broadened my horizons, opening my eyes and my heart to historical fiction and when I spotted The Fugitive Colours on NetGalley I couldn’t click on that request button fast enough.

Note that The Fugitive Colours can be read without having read The Blue, to be perfectly honest I don’t recall all the details either but I had no trouble following the story. 

While Genevieve was a feisty and outspoken single woman in The Blue, in The Fugitive Colours she is married with a young son. She is still feisty and she still hasn’t completely given up on the dream to become an artist but by necessity, her plans have morphed into a business deemed slightly more suitable for a woman: she has her own silk design business with two artists in her employ.

Like its predecessor, The Fugitive Colours addresses the fact that in mid-18th century London, women are still very much secondary to men. It also taught me about the continuing struggles and rivalry between England and France and their respective kings, and the plights of English Huguenots and professions like silkweavers. In this respect, it reminded me of Blackberry & Wild Rose by Sonia Velton.

While all the main characters are fictional, the author did manage to sneak in a rather impressive number of real persons. Most notably to me was the portraitist Joshua Reynolds, whose faulty technique in mixing paints led to the title of this novel.

The Fugitive Colours is a bit of a slowburner until all the storylines come to a head and everything is happening all at once. It’s a story of intrigue laced with espionage in a world where people fight tooth and nail for what they believe in.

The Fugitive Colours didn’t quite enchant me as much as The Blue or this author’s Dreamland, I’m not sure why, but I think that it lacked a certain trigger to truly spark my fascination, The Blue has the search for creating the perfect colour blue, which – to my great surprise – fascinated me to no end, and Dreamland is set on Coney Island, a place I’ve always found fascinating. So I guess I kinda missed that fascination this time around, but obviously that’s just me. I did have a good time with The Fugitive Colours and I’d recommend it to hist fic readers, especially those who enjoy stories set in the Georgian era.

Thanks to Lume Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own. 

The Fugitive Colours will be out on 12 May.

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