My heart is so full of love for the beautiful story that is The Pearl Thief!!
It’s a prequel to Code Name Verity, which I also absolutely love and remember with dear fondness like one remembers being stabbed in the feels with a rusty spork. EXCELLENT LITERATURE. And when I heard there was going to be a prequel about Julie’s childhood I just about lost my left sock in excitement. I am SO PLEASED!!
Although I do think it needs to be said: but this is literally nothing like Code Name Verity. It is more like a whimsical Scottish frolic and romp in the 1930s when Julie was 15 and caught up in her family’s estate that includes castles, pearls, and the occasional dead man.
Also no, you don’t have to read CNV to actually love and enjoy this! It works perfectly as a standalone too.
I actually received a copy for review, buuuut, I’d also preordered the audiobook because I listened to the other two books in the series via audio and may I just say THE AUDIO IS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. It’s all Scottish accents and the most beautiful narration ever. Soooo much recommend. I think I fell into love with Scotland and can’t get up.
Honestly this is just a really nice book.
For me it was like revisiting an old friend! And it was just so perfect being around Julie Beaufort-Stuart again, particularly since her brother, the dashing and cheerful Jamie, is here too! Jamie is so sweet and basically an adorkable Hufflepuff. Um, yes, I sort all characters into Hogwarts Houses, obviously. What else does one do in their spare time.
And do you know what I’m really impressed with? It’s how delightfully feminist this book is.
Julie is a powerful character. She’s totally flawed and privileged and often doesn’t even know it and makes mistakes because of it…but she wants to learn and be better. PLUS she is all about femininity and being empowered. She doesn’t ask permission — she does things. And I also loved how she was queer but never once saw herself as “broken” because of it, which was so refreshing to read in a historical fiction. Basically I just left this book feeling so HAPPY because Julie was witty and could shoot a gun and wasn’t afraid to get mucky and was terrified of ghosts and LOVED BEING PRETTY and kissed whoever she wanted. And Julie’s surrounded by equally fabulous and powerful female role models, like her mother and grandmother, and they take 0% shenanigans too.
I’m just so in awe.
This book, I tell you. THIS BOOK. Usually I avoid historical fiction because of having to wade through pits of feeling inferior — but nooooot so here. There are sexist characters and the world isn’t sugar-coated into an “ideal land”, but it’s just NICE SEEING WOMEN BE PROUD OF THEMSELVES.
I also loved how the book handled the travellers!
Although it made my heart BREAK at how horribly they were treated. They’re called “tinkers” by the locals, (basically Scottish gypsies) and they’re abused and railed against at every turn and arughugugh it was so unfair. I love how Julie becomes friends with Euan and Ellen. And quite frankly Euan is the SWEETEST and most precious cinnamon scone in the world and anyone who beats him will BE DIRECTLY BEATEN BY ME. And Ellen was a piece of frosty ice and absolutely amazing and I loved her.
And I loved how the romance wasn’t cliche and it also was more like discovery and searches between growing up and realising the summer will end.
The plot was definitely a slow one.
But I enjoyed the lazy summery pace. And quite frankly it was the setting I was monstrously in love with! All old castles and manors and beautifully described rivers of pearls. The writing is just SO GOOD that every scene somehow was lush and delicious and I felt like I was there, taking my summer in Scotland.
This news just in: I wish to go to Scotland.
This is DEFINITELY a beautiful book and I can’t flail over it enough!
It didn’t hit me brutally like Code Name Verity did, of course, and it was a completely different pace / feel. But it was just NICE. It’s methodical and lush and full of powerful females and a ton of hilarious moments — coupled with mystery and murder and beautiful old historical items, an EPIC sister/brother duo, diversity, and all the tea you could possibly want.
Also it won my heart, so there’s that.
THANK TO BLOOMSBURY FOR THE REVIEW-COPY! The Pearl Thief (#0.5) by Elizabeth Wein was published July, 2017
Sixteen-year-old Julie Beaufort-Stuart is returning to her family’s ancestral home in Perthshire for one last summer. It is not an idyllic return to childhood. Her grandfather’s death has forced the sale of the house and estate and this will be a summer of goodbyes. Not least to the McEwen family – Highland travellers who have been part of the landscape for as long as anyone can remember – loved by the family, loathed by the authorities. Tensions are already high when a respected London archivist goes missing, presumed murdered. Suspicion quickly falls on the McEwens but Julie knows not one of them would do such a thing and is determined to prove everyone wrong. And then she notices the family’s treasure trove of pearls is missing.