Written by Sheila Kohler
Published by Other Press
Review by Steven Wilding
Sheila Kohler’s new novel Bluebird, Or the Invention of Happiness takes place after the French Revolution. The protagonist is Lucy, who saves her husband and children from the Reign of Terror. The family flees to rural New York where Lucy finds her place as a dairy farmer, but after the Reign of Terror ends her husband insists on returning the family to France.
Kohler’s style is appealing and charming, as her character Lucy, and she does manage to capture the reader’s imagination about life in the late 18 th century both about French aristocrats and American dairy farmers. Lucy is a well-developed character and it is interesting to see her how she uses her wits in the two different settings. At times it feels as though the historical details slow the progress of the story, but then those who love historical fiction tend to bask in the details and may not find the information cumbersome. I particularly recommend this book to those with an interest in French life after the French Revolution. If there are those with a particular interest in upstate New York dairy farmers, they will enjoy this book, too.
Steven Wilding is an author, professor, and editor who currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is currently working on a novel about the Native Americans of the Southwest.