The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
Review by Lauren
source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.
Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.
Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.
Review: One of my all time favorite books is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. If you don’t know the book, I do suggest checking it out. The Pearl Thief is actually a prequel, of sorts, to Code Name Verity. One of the main characters in CNV is Julia, so it was great fun to see this young girl before she gets caught up in WWII.
The Pearl Thief has a slower pace, as it very much pays testament to the setting and time period. It becomes easy to see the places Julia does. Normally I’m not a fan of overly descriptive books, but I feel like Wein had a nice balance between the overall descriptions and the main focus of a man gone missing and Julia’s own stay in the hospital. One summer day, coming home from boarding school, Julia wakes up to find herself in the hospital. She’s been hit over the head but she cannot remember any details. Things start to come to her here and there as time goes on though, just adding to the mystery. Along with Julia’s possible attack, there is the issue of a missing man, who is currently in the employ of her family. The big question is whether the two are connected in any way.Loved Code Name Verity? Come meet Julia before WWII in The Pearl Thief #bookreview Click To Tweet
I loved getting to know more about Julia, and after reading The Pearl Thief, I was dying to re-read Code Name Verity. Perhaps soon! Along with Julia, readers are introduced to the McEwen family who are Scottish Travellers and not always looked well upon. Julia becomes friends with Euan and Ellen, brother and sister, but some of the adults in the area are not as accepting and are quick to place blame on the family. Julia knows that they would never hurt her or anyone else, but it is not always easy to convince others of this fact.
Just one of the things I really loved about this book is Julia’s friendship with Ellen. It’s never explicitly stated, but I feel it was fairly obvious to see that Julia would be bisexual in this day and age. She is attracted to men, and even kisses a few, but she’s also very much attached to Ellen and the two end up trying out kissing on each other. It’s something that young girls sometimes do, but throughout the book, it just felt that the author wanted readers to realize that Julia liked boys and girls, even if it was never given a specific name by anyone. At any rate, I thought it was a lovely addition to a historical novel.
Definitely read Elizabeth Wein, whether you start with The Pearl Thief or another of her books.