The Missing Shade of Blue by Jennie Erdal

I read The Missing Shade of Blue by Jennie Erdal as part of the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge put on by Roof Beam Reader. I first came across this book in 2013 at the Edinburgh Book Festival. As a new resident of Edinburgh I was immediately drawn to it since it is set in Edinburgh. Also, Erdal’s other book, Ghosting, has been on my radar for years.

I love reading books sets in places I know, and with that in mind I’m glad that I waited to read The Missing Shade of Blue. It is definitely a very Edinburgh book and gives a good feel of the city. Now that I know the city better I was able to picture exactly where the characters lived and conducted their lives.

The story is told by Eddie, a French translator who has come to Edinburgh to work on a book of David Hume‘s essays. He is quickly befriended by Harry Sanderson, a philosopher at the university, and becomes embroiled in the life of Sanderson and his wife. To large extent the novel is really about Sanderson and the scandal that envelopes his life.

As a lover of literature, I was keenly aware of the role that novels played in The Missing Shade of Blue. Eddie grew up in a bookshop in Paris and sees the world through the frame of books. He and Sanderson often refer to how life is sometime similar (or utterly dissimilar) to a novel.

Who would like this book? Erdal is a fine writer and I thoroughly enjoyed The Missing Shade of Blue. Language and words play a key role in the novel, as you would imagine when the main characters are a translator and a philosopher. Erdal does a commendable job at bringing Scottish life, fly fishing and Edinburgh to life. So far one of the aspects I’ve overlooked is fly fishing. The only other book I’ve read where this sport takes a starring role is Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday (don’t bother with the film, the books is so much better). Erdal’s book is not as humorous as Torday’s but brought the sport to life much more for me.

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