My Review: 5 Stars!
From the first page, you know you’re reading the words of a masterful storyteller. Isla Morley’s The Last Blue is written from a unique perspective on the Blue’s of Kentucky: a small, secluded culture of people only recently come to light in wider awareness. What is different about this compelling book is that it is a profoundly riveting love story told from many angels, addressing family loyalty, love of one’s homeland, and the triumph of romantic love against all odds. The characters in this story are fully realized to the point where the reader intuits their plausible hubris. The main character’s drive towards the pursuit of happiness chafes against small-minded culture, social mores, and multiple signs of the times. In The Last Blue, we are given a beautiful, unique soul in young Jubilee, who has a genetic skin aberration that’s misunderstood and subjects her to being a community outcast in a small, mountainous region. Superstition, racism, and the worst in human nature confront her, yet through it all, nothing affects the spirit of this child of nature, who has a gift for healing birds. When photographer Havens discovers Jubilee by a creek in the sylvan woods, he is awestruck and captivated, and the high-stakes drama becomes something deeply personal along an unpredictable path where love conquers all. Engrossing, great world-building, compassionate, and poignant, The Last Blue is a memorable, ageless story with a timely message and a satisfying ending.
In this luminous narrative inspired by the fascinating real case of “the Blue People of Kentucky,” Isla Morley probes questions of identity, love, and family in her breathtaking new novel.
In 1937, there are recesses in Appalachia no outsiders have ever explored. Two government-sponsored documentarians from Cincinnati, Ohio—a writer and photographer—are dispatched to penetrate this wilderness and record what they find for President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. For photographer Clay Havens, the assignment is his last chance to reboot his flagging career. So when he and his journalist partner are warned away from the remote Spooklight Holler outside of town, they set off eagerly in search of a headline story. What they see will haunt Clay into his old age: Jubilee Buford, a woman whose skin is a shocking and unmistakable shade of blue. From this happenstance meeting between a woman isolated from society and persecuted her whole life, and a man accustomed to keeping himself at lens distance from others, comes a mesmerizing story in which the dark shades of betrayal, prejudice, fear, and guilt, are refracted along with the incandescent hues of passion and courage. Panning across the rich rural aesthetic of eastern Kentucky, The Last Blue is a captivating love story and an intimate portrait of what it is like to be truly one of a kind.
About the Author:
Isla Morley grew up in South Africa during apartheid, the child of a British father and fourth-generation South African mother. During the country’s State of Emergency, she graduated from Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth with a degree in English Literature.
By 1994 she was one of the youngest magazine editors in South Africa, but left career, country and kin when she married an American and moved to California. For more than a decade she pursued a career in non-profit work, focusing on the needs of women and children.
Her debut novel, Come Sunday, won the Janet Heidinger Prize for fiction and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Prize. It has been translated into seven languages. Her novel, Above was an IndieNext Pick, a Best Buzz Book and a Publishers Weekly Best New Book. The Last Blue is her third novel.
She has lived in some of the most culturally diverse places of the world, including Johannesburg, London and Honolulu. Now in Los Angeles, she shares a home with her husband, daughter, three cats and five tortoises.
Isla Morley’s Website: Media (islamorley.com)