Book Review: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

June 5, 2017 Book review 28 ★★★½

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.

Book Review: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth WeinThe Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
on 4 May 2017
Genres: Coming of Age, Historical Fiction, YA
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: Library

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.

CREATIVE Historical Well Written Young Adult

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.

Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: three-half-stars


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.


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28 Responses to “Book Review: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein”

  1. Sace

    I love your star ratings for “did I feel it”. Sometimes that’s the most important factor.

    • trish

      I’m all about how a book made me feel. It’s my most basic gut reaction, and often the key of my rating for the book.

  2. trish

    Code Name Verity is a very slow burner, and you have to get past all the flying lingo. But it’s a fabulous read Kim, I promise!

  3. Rita @ Paging Through Books

    Ah, too bad for this one! I love a Scottish setting and though I’m not a big reader of YA, I like the occasional coming of age story, if done well. Perhaps if you went into this one treating it as just a C-O-A story and not a mystery, it would suit you better. Sometimes lovely writing can make up for many other let-downs.

    And by the way, I just added Code Name Verity to my wishlist on GR. I always avoided it because it’s labeled YA, but your review makes it sound like it has a message that everyone should read and take away. Thanks!
    Rita @ Paging Through Books recently posted…Review: A Merciful Truth

    • trish

      It is a coming of age book, and yes the writing made it a very worthwhile book. I think my expectations set me up for a fall, as Code Name Verity is such an edge-of-your-seat book. I hope you get to read it sometime.

  4. Joelle Rider

    Popping in from the get social event.Added you to our following list.Happy Reading! Joelle from Angels with Attitude Book Reviews

    • trish

      Code Name Verity is fab Grace (although it’s a slow starter). I won’t ever forget it and you should push it up the tbr!

  5. Christy LoveOfBooks

    I have the audio of CNV, but of course haven’t listened yet. 😔

    • trish

      CNV is a slow starter Christy, but if you push through that it’s fab. There is a fab twist in the middle!

  6. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    I haven’t read Code Name Verity yet but it’s on my list and I am looking forward to it. This sequel sounds interesting. I like that she is flawed but realistically so. The pacing definitely sounds like a struggle but in the end it’s definitely how the book made you feel!

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