March 8, 2022
Blurb: For Blue Lake’s entire life, she and her mother, Scarlet, have been on the run from HIM—the man who Scarlet, a talented and enigmatic painter, insists is chasing them. But now, at fifteen years old, Blue has begun to resent the nomadic life that once seemed like an adventure, increasingly unsure what to make of the phantom pursuer she’s never seen. She only yearns to settle down in one place, to live a normal life.
When Scarlet and Blue arrive in the beachfront town of South Haven, Michigan, it seems that Blue’s wishes might finally come true. She makes a good friend, is falling in love for the first time, and has found a piano teacher who recognizes her budding talent. But even as Blue thrives, she cannot shake her worry about her mother, whose eccentricities and art are only becoming increasingly difficult to understand. Scarlet, meanwhile, has very different intentions for their stay in South Haven. It was no accident that she brought them there and, with the help of the psychoanalyst she’s sought out, Henry, she is determined to find a way to finally escape the shadow of her traumatic past, no matter the cost.
Told through the alternating voices of Blue, Scarlet, and Henry, Scarlet in Blue is a page-turning story about the ramifications of past trauma, the way art can hold our lives together, and, most of all, the enduring bond between mother and child.
Every nine months Scarlet tells Blue that they have to leave the town where they’re staying because HE has found them. They pack what they can carry, change their names, and take a bus to another town Now 15, Blue is becoming annoyed with running, especially when she’s no longer certain that there is a reason to run. She wants friends, to know that her life has impacted because otherwise, she would just be nothing. Little does she know how different Scarlet intends their life in South Haven, Michigan to be.
Scarlet in Blue by Jennifer Murphy is a jigsaw puzzle of a novel with pieces given to the reader slowly to see where they fit. Even when something doesn’t seem to fit, the reader is fascinated to see that it does. And, when answers seem obvious, it soon becomes apparent that they are not.
For any reader who is fascinated by psychological fiction, Scarlet in Blue is a tour de force. While it’s not a psychological thriller per se with the reader on the edge of their seat, it is a mystery, leading the reader through a maze and keeping them guessing. It certainly did me. I did piece together the bits but knowing what was happening didn’t end the thrill of the read for me because I needed to know all of the why’s. Murphy’s storytelling and beautiful artist’s prose that often, especially in the end passages of the novel, bordered on poetic add to the pleasure of the read. The plot is taut yet twisty and completely well thought out.
I loved the use of synchronicity. While some of it is engineered by Scarlet, some is also engineered by the universe. The parallels in relationships are also intriguing with how differently “being one’s world” can play out depending on the origin of the desire.
Despite the fact that the beginning of the novel confused/frustrated me a little , I soon forgot that as I became immersed. I was so engaged that the last half of the novel seemed to pass in a blink. These were characters I won’t soon forget and such excellent storytelling that I intend to read more by this author.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.