by Victoria Strauss Series: Passion Blue #2
on September 16, 2014 Pages:
eARC Source: Blog Tour
, NetGalley Goodreads
By the author of the acclaimed "Passion Blue," a "Kirkus Reviews" Best Teen Book of 2012 and "a rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion," comes a fascinating companion novel.
Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed - or cursed - with a spirit's gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors as she creates them in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilita. It's here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness and rekindled her passion to become a painter?an impossible dream for any woman in 15th century Italy.
But when a dying Humilita bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession - the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue - Giulia realizes she's in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color. Faced with the prospect of a life in the convent barred from painting as punishment for keeping Humilita's secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist's apprentice?
Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilita's Passion blue. And Venice, she discovers, with its gilded palazzos and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, and where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way?
This compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks the question: what does it mean to risk everything to pursue your passion?
I adored PASSION BLUE by Victoria Strauss when I read it last year, so when I was offered the chance to be on the blog tour for the companion novel, COLOR SONG, I was super excited.
The tour is hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, and you can check out all the stops here. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.
I really enjoyed PASSION BLUE, the first book about Giulia, a girl who wants to be a painter. But in Renaissance Italy, women aren’t painters. They’re servants or wives or nuns or prostitutes. Giulia was sent to a convent against her will, but against all odds, she finds a way to pursue her dream inside the convent.
Giulia’s story could have ended there, but thankfully, it didn’t. COLOR SONG is a companion to PASSION BLUE, and while it’s not super necessary to have read PASSION BLUE, it is helpful. Giulia does recap most of her story though, so you could dive right into COLOR SONG if you’re the impatient sort.
Sequels don’t always work for me, but I liked COLOR SONG even more than I liked PASSION BLUE. I didn’t want this book to end, because it was chock full of good stuff. The name comes directly from Giulia’s new ability: she can hear colors. Each one has its own song that fits the color. Malachite green has an acid whine, lead white purrs like a cat, and so on. Passion blue, the secret color that causes so much angst and joy for Giulia, has the very best song of all. I really liked this concept of color song, because it added even more to the author’s sumptuous descriptions of color.
In COLOR SONG, Giulia runs away from the convent and goes to Venice, the city for art. Venice was practically a living, breathing character, and I enjoyed seeing the city through Giulia’s eyes. I also really liked the descriptions of life in a master’s painting workshop, contrasting it to the one in the convent. But the descriptions of Giulia’s painting and color creation were the very best of all: I felt like I could really see each color she created. And the processes of creating those colors! So cool. I geek out over that sort of stuff.
Giulia has to disguise herself as a boy to follow her dream, but even as she does, she wonders how long she can keep her secrets. She’s not sure if she wants to live a lie, but with the attitudes against women, what can she do?
I could go on and on about COLOR SONG, but I don’t want to give away too much of the story. Yes, it is a tad depressing because of Giulia’s struggles, but she has help from unexpected sources. The epilogue gives a hopeful nod to the rest of her story, and while I would love another book about Giulia, if there isn’t one, I’m very satisfied with how everything wraps up.
I recommend COLOR SONG if you like historical fiction, art fiction, and/or stories about girls making their own futures.
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*giveaway is tour-wide
About the author:
Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the STONE duology (THE ARM OF THE STONE and THE GARDEN OF THE STONE), and a historical novel for teens, PASSION BLUE. She has written hundreds of book reviews for magazines and ezines, including SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer’s Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.
An active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), she’s co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that tracks and warns about literary fraud. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website, Facebook page, and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009.
She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.