Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Last Blue, by Isla Morley {ends 6/3}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“Who I was is not who I am now.”

“I couldn’t expect you to be exactly the same. I’m not the same, either.” For the sake of transparency, he describes the morose, indecisive, self-pitying bum he’s allowed himself to be the past few months. Still she does not give him the boot. He moves his thumb across the back of her hand, aware at once of everything about her – the tendons in her neck pulled taut, how rigid she stands, how shallow she breathes. “I’ve missed you so much, Jubilee.” So much he could crush her. Inching closer to her, he says, “There hasn’t been a day go by that I haven’t thought of you.”

“I expected you to go on with your life. I didn’t think you’d come back.”

Havens shows her the color picture Massey gave him. Even though he is barely in the frame, Havens’s posture and expression are a giveaway. “You tell me that’s a man who’s going to forget the woman in his arms and go on with his life.” He tells her she’d visit him in his dreams. “You’d be as real to me as you are now.” Sometimes, he’d wake up and look out the window, and he’d see her walking toward him, a trick doubly cruel for being so fleeting. “Everything reminded me of you,” he adds. “I couldn’t even see a pigeon and not think of you tending your birds.” He shows her the handkerchief she’d embroidered for him. “I don’t go anywhere without this. It’s my way of taking you with me.”

After never hearing of the ‘blue people of Kentucky’ before, this book was a great introduction to at least one of these unique residents of remote eastern Kentucky. What sounds like it could be a fantasy book is based on an actual small segment of the population around 1936.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Last Blue, by Isla Morley {ends 6/3}
In this luminous narrative inspired by the fascinating real case of “the Blue People of Kentucky,” Isla Morley probes questions of identity, love, and family in her breathtaking new novel.

In 1937, there are recesses in Appalachia no outsiders have ever explored. Two government-sponsored documentarians from Cincinnati, Ohio—a writer and photographer—are dispatched to penetrate this wilderness and record what they find for President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. For photographer Clay Havens, the assignment is his last chance to reboot his flagging career. So when he and his journalist partner are warned away from the remote Spooklight Holler outside of town, they set off eagerly in search of a headline story. What they see will haunt Clay into his old age: Jubilee Buford, a woman whose skin is a shocking and unmistakable shade of blue. From this happenstance meeting between a woman isolated from society and persecuted her whole life, and a man accustomed to keeping himself at lens distance from others, comes a mesmerizing story in which the dark shades of betrayal, prejudice, fear, and guilt, are refracted along with the incandescent hues of passion and courage. Panning across the rich rural aesthetic of eastern Kentucky,
The Last Blue is a captivating love story and an intimate portrait of what it is like to be truly one of a kind.

What a beautiful love story told in alternating perspectives between Clay Havens (in 1937 and 1972) and Jubilee Buford (in 1937). Although Havens and his partner originally plan to get to the story behind the gossip hinted at in town, an accident lands them at the Buford homestead. Hospitality insists that the Bufords welcome the strangers, at least temporarily. The surprise for all of them is when Havens finds himself caring more about the family’s well-being than his headline story.

The descriptions of the gorgeous wilderness surrounding their homestead, and the characterizations of some of their neighbors and townspeople gave the story a real beauty and evoked a full range of emotions. What could have been a predictable story of judgment, justice, and redemption instead had a few interesting plot twists that enhanced their history even more.

Overall, I’d give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. It was a wonderfully written story of love, life, and loss.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a warm-weather creature. She loves watching flowers, hummingbirds, orioles and butterflies while she reads and enjoys a cocktail in the sun. Find out more about the books she reads at


The author has generously donated SEVEN copies of this book for 7 of my lucky readers to win! Winners will be able to choose if they'd prefer a physical or digital copy, as well.

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, June 3rd, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Last Blue, by Isla Morley


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