My head is melted trying to decide a rating for The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein. I’m so torn. A part of me loves the characters and the atmosphere. The other part of me laments the lack of pace, and the overly detailed descriptions.The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
on 4 May 2017
Genres: Coming of Age, Historical Fiction, YA
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.
First Line of The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
“You’re a brave lassie.”
Thoughts on The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
The Pearl Thief is a prequel to Code Name Verity, and it’s lovely to meet a younger ‘Verity” aka Julie. I loved her in CVN, and now I admire her even more. She is cheerful, confident, curious, kind, but also selfish and impulsive. I love how perfectly non perfect she is. If you haven’t read Code Name Verity, then what have you being doing with your life?! You need to rectify that ASAP.
Julie is the granddaughter of the Earl of Stathfern. Her title and social standing shelter her from the world. So when she meets with 2 Travellers, her views alter. The disdain and suspicion that others treat them with offends and angers her. She seems them not as travellers, but as teenagers just like her. They enthrall her, and she sets herself the challenge of making friends. And she is undeniable in love, and full of joy when trapsing around the Scottish countryside with them.
The atmosphere of the book oozes a Scottish charm. From Scottish Pearls, to the ramshackle estate, to the cataloging of historical artifacts; they all bonded together to make an unforgettable setting.
And I enjoyed sexual explorations of Julie (nothing graphic). She is discovering who she is, and finds that she is equally attracted to boys and girls. This doesn’t play out in an overdramatic way. It just is what it is, and flows very naturally.
The mystery aspect was so-so. And unfortunately, the overly detailed descriptions slowed the pace to a crawl. And this is where my conflict comes in. The slow pace is because of beautiful writing, but slow paces and mysteries don’t work. It lacks the page-turning fervour that I expect from a gripping mystery.
Overall The Pearl Thief is a book that I’ll remember, despite not stealing my heart. It isn’t a fraction as good as Code Name Verity, but it’s well worth reading. Even if it’s only to be reminded of just how amazing Julie is. Thumbs up for characters, and history. Thumbs down for suspense, and tension.
|Did I feel it?|
Who should read The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
I do recommend this book, but with a caution. It’s not as exciting, or as action-packed as Code Name Verity, so don’t jump in expecting that. If you are a fan of previous books by Elizabeth Wein, it’s fun to see her try another genre, even if the results didn’t wow me. Fans of coming of age books, a pre WW2 setting, or a Scottish setting should also enjoy. I’d also recommend to fans of I Capture The Castle.