Spirited Widow Courageously Pursues Dream to Paint ‘Midnight Blue’ [REVIEW]

Delftware in a window

A young woman with a dream. A past she has to escape. A talent that can’t be denied. Lose yourself in Simone van der Vlugt’s Midnight Blue. (Photo by Thomas, Flickr)

When her husband meets an untimely end, a young widow leaves the small village she’s lived in her entire life to reinvent herself in the big city. But try as she may, she can’t seem to outrun whispered rumors about why she really left. Will she ever escape the past and make her dreams of becoming a skilled artist a reality? Find out in Dutch author Simone van der Vlugt’s enchanting new novel, Midnight Blue. 

Simone van der Vlugt's MIDNIGHT BLUE

William Morrow

In 1654, 25-year-old Catrin is already a widow. Having lived in the tiny village of De Rijp her entire life, it is no wonder she longs for adventure and a fresh start in another town. Even her parents and siblings don’t hold it against her when she leaves, no matter how much they will miss her.

New beginnings don’t come easily, however, as she soon discovers. After she sells everything she owns and moves to Alkmaar, she heads to a local inn where she is greeted by dear friends who wait for her with devastating news: the job she’d lined up has fallen through. And finding another employment opportunity proves more difficult than she thought.

Then she meets a handsome man who regales her with stories of his travels around the globe.  Even though he invites her to join him, all Catrin wants is a job. So he helps set her up as a housekeeper working for his brother and sister-in-law, the wealthy Van Nulandt family of Amsterdam. Her new city is at the height of the Golden Age, filled with wonders as art and science change the world as she knows it.

Her employer, Madam Van Nulandt, spends her time studying art under the tutelage of Rembrandt van Rigin, a local master. When Catrin takes a brush in hand to finish some of her mistress’s work, Rembrandt encourages her obvious natural talent. However, when an old enemy surfaces, Catrin must flee to Delft, where she begins earning a living as a painter in a local pottery workshop, one which soon turns the industry on its ear with its beautiful Delft Blue designs. Will Catrin’s newfound success and happiness last? Or will she be forced to run once more and possibly return to the village she has worked so hard to leave behind?

Midnight Blue is Simone van der Vlugt’s first novel to be published in America, and is therefore my first encounter with her work. However, it definitely won’t be the last! This novel is beautifully written and filled with captivating characters. Catrin is a woman struggling to not only survive, but to thrive, despite the restrictions faced by women during the time, especially those with a skill but no guild to back them. But it is also laced with mystery, which propels the story forward and keeps us keenly interested in the fate of this young widow.

And even though this is a historical novel, van der Vlught effortlessly transports us to the Netherlands in the midst of the 17th century where she gives us a grand tour through an evolving landscape without ever getting mired down in dry facts. This isn’t to say that readers will close this book feeling as though they’ve learned nothing new, for this story is impeccably researched. In fact, the author has a strong, clear voice, one which engages and entertains, even as it educates us about the history of the period with cautious subtlety. Most of all, Midnight Blue does what every novel should, it captures our imagination with quiet grace and steals us away to a distant time and place, comfortable with the knowledge that a skilled scribe is at the helm. Whether you’re an art aficionado or simply an armchair traveler who loves history, you won’t be disappointed in this gorgeous book.

Simone van der Vlugt

Simone van der Vlugt


Simone van der Vlugt is an award-winning Dutch novelist whose books have sold more than 2 million copies. The author of numerous thrillers, historical novels and children’s books, Midnight Blue is her first novel to be published in the United States.

She lives with her husband and two children in Alkmaar. Visit her home on the Web at SimonevanderVlught.nl, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

By Simone van der Vlugt
336 pgs. William Morrow. $15.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase Midnight Blue at one of these fine online retailers: HarperCollins, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and IndieBound.

Midnight Blue is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

3 Responses to Spirited Widow Courageously Pursues Dream to Paint ‘Midnight Blue’ [REVIEW]

  1. Thanks so much for your review for the tour!

  2. Pingback: Simone van der Vlugt, author of Midnight Blue, on tour June/July 2018 | TLC Book Tours

  3. trish says:

    I really love this cover!

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