By Richard Wise
I was fortunate enough to get an early Kindle edition of Richard Wise?s newest masterpiece The French Blue. I also own a copy of Wise?s Secrets of the Gem Trade, and it is one of the very few gem books that I?ve read cover to cover, not just skipping ahead to the sections about pearls.
The French Blue is a completely different kind of work. It is a novel that begs to be read slowly, but once one becomes entranced in the story, it is nearly impossible to put down. Not for the faint of heart, it boasts approximately 600 pages of engrossing story telling.
The French Blue is a fictional account of the life and voyages of Jean Baptiste Tavernier, one of the most important gem traders of his time and historically significant in the pearl trade as well. Wise has seamlessly intertwined fact with fiction, adding an element of true adventure to an already adventurous yet untold story.
The book begins with Tavernier as a child. He was a boy who dreamed of adventure and lived vicariously through those whom he admired. As a young man, he set out on his adventures, which included military campaigns, working as a spy, and numerous lovely ladies.
Tavernier?s real dream was to travel the world as a merchant ? a gem merchant. With his first stop the Turquoise Mines of Madan, he soon learned he had a gift, one that so few people do. He had the eye and the natural ability to select only the best even after continuous ?washing of the eyes.?
Of course my favorite part of the book was his adventures in pearls. For one who loves the history and lore of the pearling trade of the 1600?s, the novel takes you into the life with accurate descriptions of the ships, the divers and the traders.
The immeasurable amount of research Wise put into this novel is clearly evident with such accurate portrayals of historical fact. What makes this novel different, however, is the way Wise got into Tavernier?s head and lived a fantasy to tell the story of his six voyages in an entertaining and engrossing way.
I encourage all pearl lovers to get their own copy to enjoy. You can purchase a signed hardcover at www.thefrenchblue.com. It is also available in in all ebook formats including kindle, nook and Sony for only $9.99.
The French Blue
Brunswick House Press
Reviewed by Jeremy Shepherd
Founder and CEO