Cinema Blue by Sue Rulliere

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Cinema Blue by Sue Rulliere

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Melony Sanders
Reviewed by Melony Sanders
Summary: Beautifully written, the distressing past of a young woman is revealed by cleverly placed flashbacks.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 248 Date: April 2010
Publisher: Solidus
ISBN: 978-1904529477

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Frankie is a twenty nine year old woman living in Paris and working in a supermarket while she tries to put her life back together after a split from her husband. The split, and what led up to it, was clearly distressing, and exactly what happened is revealed through a series of flashbacks to the time when Frankie was Francesca, whose life was controlled by her husband, JP. The news that JP has had an accident throws Frankie into confusion, because it seems that he turned to drink after she left him and she blames herself. In the meantime, Frankie is entering into a relationship with the enigmatic Antoine, who appears to be doing something rather strange in the flat below hers. Will Frankie be able to retain her new identity? Will the relationship with Antoine go anywhere, or is he just as bad for her as JP was?

Frankie is an incredibly vulnerable young woman who is trying to move on with her life, although she knows few people in Paris and is lonely. She has parents back in England, but following the death of her brother, Craig, when she was just eight, her relationship with them has always been distant. Her only real friends appear to be Simon and Monique, who live in the same building, and Xavier, JP's half-brother. Her vulnerability immediately drew me to her; she is clearly a woman who is suffering, but, with a wisdom beyond her years, realises that it is time she drew a line under her past and moved on. As we find more about her during the course of the book, she simply grew in my estimation and I really wanted things to work out well for her.

This is a story that is beautifully and cleverly told. The story of Frankie is told in the third person, which helps to distance the reader from her story a little bit, so that it is possible to view her behaviour objectively. During the flashbacks, when she becomes Francesca, the story is told in the first person. This serves to make her pain and grief just that little bit more vivid and personal, and of course, it makes it easy to tell the past from the present. I loved the way that the flashbacks are slipped into the story. Something will happen that reminds Frankie of her time as Francesca and so she slips back in time. This happens frequently throughout the book, with the story swapping backwards and forwards in just a few pages - nevertheless, it never feels overdone or forced. It is, in fact, very much like film clips, which fits in with the title very nicely; although that isn't the only reason for the title.

It is clear early on that something very disturbing happened to Frankie and so there are amount similarities to a mystery, because the revealing of what happened to her doesn't occur until very near the end. This was a distinct advantage for me. To begin with, I thought the book was going to be a love story with an awful lot of navel-gazing. Thankfully, it never becomes that, although the story is partially about relationships, and I found it very hard to put down because I just wanted to know what was going to happen. If anything, I suppose it is anti-romance.

The disturbing happenings aren't just restricted to Francesca's marriage to JP. There is also a mystery surrounding Antoine and his career. He initially appears to be nothing more than a little bit eccentric, but it soon becomes clear that he could be involved in something decidedly dodgy - and it is quite a shock when it is finally revealed. There is a certain amount of sex in the book, but it is tastefully described and never seems gratuitous; in fact it is very necessary to the story.

What impressed me most about this book is the quality of the writing. Sue Rulliere is not an author I am familiar with; in fact, this appears to be the only novel she has written, along with a few short stories. However, she is clearly very talented and I really hope she continues writing. The language is always fairly simple and unpretentious, yet she manages to bring the words to life in an incredibly vivid way and it flows beautifully. The book is split into three parts, but has no chapters. This is usually something I don't like, because I like to be able to read a certain amount at a time and then know exactly where I'm going back to. Nevertheless, the author's use of paragraph spacing is so good that I didn't miss the lack of chapters at all.

My only criticism of the book is that when I reached the end, I wasn't entirely sure that I understood what had happened. There are a couple of ways in which it could be translated; one I liked, one I didn't. I am a fan of neat endings, but I didn't get one here. I'm all for books that are thought-provoking, but I eventually like to know exactly where I stand; whereas here, I was left with too many questions. This may not be a problem for everyone, and I don't think it should stop people from reading the book - I just hope that the next time I read some of this author's work, I'm not left in the same predicament.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I didn't expect to - not having heard of the author and with a title like Cinema Blue, I thought it was going to be a rather pretentious read. It really wasn't though; the author brought Frankie/Francesca to life beautifully and her use of language was a real pleasure to read. If Rulliere can grow from this, then I am excited about what she can come up with next. I just wish the ending had been a little less ambiguous. Four stars out of five.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If you enjoy this type of fiction, you may also like Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris and The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood.

Buy Cinema Blue by Sue Rulliere at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cinema Blue by Sue Rulliere at

Buy Cinema Blue by Sue Rulliere at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cinema Blue by Sue Rulliere at


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