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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation
Adopting a philosophical stance on life and relationships and dealing with "the suffering that comes with knowledge of the world", The Missing Shade of Blue inevitably takes an elevated literary view of its subject, but that doesn't mean that it is in any way detached from the reality of day-to-day matters or lacking in any sense of real human characteristics. Rather it...
Published on 26 Mar 2012 by Keris Nine

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flatteringly deceptive
Edgar is translator of mixed Scottish - French parentage, raised in a Paris bookshop and working at the Sorbonne. He has been seconded to Edinburgh to translate some essay by David Hume, while Blandford, a member of the faculty in Edinburgh has gone to Paris. The two have exchanged homes for the period. On arrival in Edinburgh, Edgar falls in with Harry Sanderson, another...
Published 15 months ago by Kartowidjojo


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flatteringly deceptive, 4 May 2013
This review is from: The Missing Shade Of Blue (Paperback)
Edgar is translator of mixed Scottish - French parentage, raised in a Paris bookshop and working at the Sorbonne. He has been seconded to Edinburgh to translate some essay by David Hume, while Blandford, a member of the faculty in Edinburgh has gone to Paris. The two have exchanged homes for the period. On arrival in Edinburgh, Edgar falls in with Harry Sanderson, another member of the faculty who has just written a book on happiness. Sanderson is a man in moral and physical decay: his body, career, family life and moral compass are coming apart. He is married to Carrie, a former student of his, now a highly regarded artist, who has son from a previous relationship, Alfie. Alfie became schizophrenic at adolescence and is now institutionalised. Harry teaches Edgar how to fly-fish; lectures him about philosophy; they discuss their backgrounds.

There is a lot going on in MISSING SHADE OF BLUE, and not all of it is good. There is a lot outright philosophy, Socratic Dialogues between Sanderson and Edgar: likewise, a lot of talk about translations and reading.

Virtually every character either suffers from, or has close personal connections to, mental illness.

There is a Parisian childhood. There is the meaning of happiness, and some standard, ho-hum extramarital affairs, as one expects from novels set in academia.

The work has a definite French feel to it and resembles - in style at least - Julian Barnes' similar cross-channel endeavors, but BLUE is nowhere near that bad. I was reminded of Sartre and Balzac, and not just because the author overtly brings them into the narrative, but there is a very clear attempt to mimic the style of the French intellectual novel. The feeling of high academic life has shades of AS Byatt and even CP Snow.

Erdal's style in adequate, sometimes excellent, but the whole work plods along a little. I found the plot eventually quite disappointing. Yawn.

The plot is carrying an enormous weight of erudition on its shoulders and ultimately is not strong enough to support it all. Much of the philosophy does not really tie in with the events in the story and one sometimes has the feeling that one is reading a primer rather than a novel: I felt lectured to.

All the elements and themes don't really seem to come together enough. Great ambition demands great execution. I was left wondering what it was all about really.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation, 26 Mar 2012
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Missing Shade Of Blue (Paperback)
Adopting a philosophical stance on life and relationships and dealing with "the suffering that comes with knowledge of the world", The Missing Shade of Blue inevitably takes an elevated literary view of its subject, but that doesn't mean that it is in any way detached from the reality of day-to-day matters or lacking in any sense of real human characteristics. Rather it is in the conflict between living through the complicated matters of life, relationships and marriage - particularly one that is breaking up - and the idea that we can make sense of it all as being part of some grander scheme, that Jennie Erdal's novel engages with the reader, attempting to reconcile those complex thoughts and feelings herself through the less than precise form of language.

These conflicting viewpoints in the novel come in the form of two figures - Sanderson and Edgar - but each of them, in a very human way, face a struggle within themselves to maintain their own position and, in some ways, they want to believe that there can be a truthful medium, and consequently a form of happiness or contentment that can be found. It's Sanderson who is the philosopher, a University lecturer in Edinburgh, while Edgar, significantly, is a translator, from France but of Scottish heritage, who has come to the city to work on a new translation of the works of the philosopher David Hume. It's through Edgar however that the reader witnesses the breakdown of the Sanderson's marriage and the unravelling of his friend and colleague and his beliefs.

It's far from an impassive and distanced perspective however, and far from straightforward. As Eddie observes, "there are mysterious forces at work" in the act of translation and in the relationship of the translator with their subject. And can one really know or write about something without having experienced it oneself? Edgar's work on Hume, as well as his reaction to the Sanderson's marriage, leads him to question his own identity and sense of purpose, not least in what their situation reveals about his relationship with his own parents. It's a subject that Jennie Erdal has approached before in the form of a ghost-writer in her memoir Ghosting, and here in The Missing Shade of Blue she brings out other fascinating insights and resonances on the theme.

Here, the author finds a variety of interesting ways and metaphors to describe the experience, the mystery and the ambiguity, Edgar observing while fishing at one point that "the delight [of the river] was partly to do with my incomplete understanding of it, as well as the sense of possibility that it held out". This all sounds very literary, trying to find a sense of understanding of life, relationships, happiness and a sense of identity - and, yes it these questions are considered seriously - but the author also manages to brings a lightness to it all in the writing, never forgetting that her characters are human and that life can be absurd, enlivening the mild philosophising with little behavioural quirks and a delightful sense of humour.

At heart, The Missing Shade of Blue is a simple little story, but it's beautifully and thoughtfully told and it raises a lot of interesting questions about life, love and happiness that will be relevant on some level to just about everyone.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Philosophical Adventure, 29 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Missing Shade Of Blue (Paperback)
Arriving in Edinburgh from Paris to work on a translation of the philosopher David Hume, diffident Edgar Logan looks forward to an academic sojourn. Drama is the last thing he expects, yet when, soon after his arrival, Edgar comes into contact with the academic philosopher Harry Sanderson and his beautiful artist wife, Carrie, the translator's meticulously circumscribed life is suddenly propelled into chaos.

Survivor of a solitary childhood with a French mother (consumed by grief for the miscarried babies she keeps in jars) and a Scottish father who runs a bookshop in Paris, Edgar had wanted to be philosopher but suffered a nervous breakdown while studying at the Sorbonne. So he becomes a translator and is very much an observer of life, keeping the messiness of human interaction at bay. Harry Sanderson is Edgar's opposite- larger than life, brilliant and paranoid (particularly about his younger wife) and he is hurtling towards calamity, in furious rebellion against his colleagues and on the brink of a nameless mania. Drawn into Sanderson's dangerous orbit by his irony, intellectual clarity and fearlessness, and by the secrets that underwrite his marriage to the lovely, elusive Carrie, Edgar must engage not only with the philosopher's deeply hidden fears, but with his own too. Through his relationships with Sanderson and Carrie, Edgar subtly moves from the periphery of the human race to become a major player.

The Missing Shade of Blue is a most compelling novel; a portrait of sexual jealousy and a profound meditation on the human capacity for happiness. The writing is excellent - inventive, intelligent and absolutely involving. The characters are very deftly and subtly drawn. The book is also about language, secrets, emotional engagement - and fly-fishing. The title refers to Hume's infamous exception from A Treatise of Human Nature to show that the mind can generate an idea without first being exposed to the relevant sensory experience. It is, as you would expect from the author of Ghosting, extraordinary, absorbing, and possesses a very special clarity of perception and confidence of voice. She delves deep into the nature of self, a kind of off-centred-ness, and has an interest in the workings of language. It's a most thought-provoking book that stays with you long after you've turned the final page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quietly gripping, 25 April 2013
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This review is from: The Missing Shade Of Blue (Paperback)
Thoughtful, measured storytelling that with a light touch explores an evolving life, friendship and love. Very wabi-sabi - flaws are integral to beauty. I loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 6 Jan 2013
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I could hardly put this book down. The characters were well drawn, the setting was atmospheric, I live in Edinburgh, so I know the places and I fish too.

A realistic ending. I learned a lot about David Hume too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN INTELLECTUAL PAGE-TURNER, 17 Aug 2012
By 
W. Chrispin "Bill C" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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I am just reaching the end of this wonderful book but deliberately slowing down, I just do not want it to end! Absorbing throughout and full of wonderful insights and superb writing, the book has a strong storyline but also has a lot to say about philosophy and its role in modern life. The characterisation is strong and the descriptive writing gripping. Faultless, I cannot wait for future books from Ms Erdal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A good novel is like a small miracle...", 22 July 2012
By 
Sabina (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Missing Shade Of Blue (Paperback)
Edgar Logan swaps his Parisian flat with a philosopher in Edinburgh's New Town, in order to work on his translation of David Hume's essays. He meets Harry Sanderson in the faculty, a rumbustious, heretical and increasingly troubled philosopher who is married to the beautiful Carrie, a considerably younger artist. Edgar's long studious days, include imbibing the spirit of Hume by visiting his grave, and following in Hume's pre-breakfast footsteps to Salisbury Crags. Sometimes he has an inkling that somebody comes to the flat while he is out. Edgar becomes intrigued by the elusive Carrie, while Sanderson introduces him to his passion for fly-fishing. Interaction with the Sandersons and their unravelling marriage, draw Edgar out of his role of perennial observer of life. He thinks about the breakdown of his student days, the precariousness of his French mother's mental state and of the relationship with his Scottish father who was dedicated to her and to his bookshop in the Latin Quarter.

This is a literary novel of ideas and suffused with intelligent humour in its ponderings and discussions on the nature of happiness, loyalty, memory, sanity/madness, art, philosophy, imagination, passion (suppressed and erupting), jealousy, translation and love. Somewhere in the middle my monkey-brain wanted a little more action, but this phase passed. In the Sanderson household disaster seems unavoidable, but the energy changes in the final part of the novel. The sojourn on the Scottish island with all its weather and radiant light brings creativity, a fragile healing, a human hope.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure pleasure, 15 April 2012
This review is from: The Missing Shade Of Blue (Paperback)
This is the book that manages to pick up where Alexander McCall Smith leaves off, set in the Georgian streets of Edinburgh's New Town, but roving back and forwards through registers of ideas and images that Scotland Street doesn't quite reach. It tells the story of a Frenchman who admires David Hume, the Edinburgh Enlightenment philosopher, and who comes to live in Edinburgh in order to translate some of his original works, still held in the National Library near the Castle. The story picks up on some of Hume's greatest ideas, but uses them to fill out the stories of some fascinating characters. The whole book is worth it just for the scenes with a University lecturer becoming a celebrity TV star on the subject of 'Happiness' - interviewed on TV-AM and Radio 4, and giving deadpan answers. You find yourself chuckling away at the same time as realising that no-one can really define happiness, because it's different for everyone. It's rare that you find a book that can take you on these sorts of excursions, while keeping to a riveting plotline, but this is one of them.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written and Beguiling Story, 28 Mar 2012
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Missing Shade Of Blue (Paperback)
Edgar Logan, a rather quiet and reserved translator, leaves his Paris home and arrives in Edinburgh to work on a translation of the philosopher David Hume's essays. Soon after his arrival, Edgar is befriended by Henry Sanderson, a philosopher, who invites him to his home to meet his wife. Sanderson's wife, Carrie, much younger than him and an artist, is an attractive and charming woman, but it does not take long for Edgar to realize that the Sandersons' marriage is a troubled one.

Henry Sanderson is a witty and intelligent man, but he is in poor physical condition; he suffers from a nervous skin complaint that causes his skin to blister and weep and to divert himself from this painful condition, Sanderson escapes whenever he can to indulge in his love of fly-fishing and in drinking copious amounts of good whisky, which helps him to cope with life. And whilst on a fishing trip with Edgar, Sanderson reveals that he is convinced that in order to cope with the pressures of her life, Carrie has decided that an extra-marital affair is the answer to her problems. "I'm a disappointed man, that's what I am," Sanderson says, "but at least you know where you are with disappointment, whereas with happiness, anything can happen." As Edgar spends more time with the Sandersons, he finds himself increasingly attracted to the beguiling Carrie and, while he becomes drawn into their marriage difficulties, he finds that the time has come for him confront his own demons.

This is a cleverly constructed novel with well drawn characters and Jennie Erdal writes with a subtle intelligence and a sureness of touch that can only be admired. 'The Missing Shade of Blue' is advertised as a philosophical adventure, but this is a novel that can be read on more than one level: as an interesting exercise in light philosophy or simply as an enjoyable story and an intriguing portrait of the human condition - rather like some of Iris Murdoch's marvellous novels. Erdal is a wonderful new voice in fiction and I shall certainly be looking forward with interest to her next novel.

5 Stars.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and moving read, 2 April 2012
This review is from: The Missing Shade Of Blue (Paperback)
A brilliant and moving read. The characters are utterly compelling. Sanderson in particular becomes so grotesque physically that it's almost macabre. It's also quite comical in places, particularly when Sanderson starts unburdening himself and Eddie is not sure how to deal with the level of familiarity.

Sanderson is just amazing, I had a sense of watching him fall off a cliff but in very slow motion. You're just waiting for the inevitable but at the same time hoping that he will truly discover happiness and turn things around. But instead it's Eddie who achieves this albeit in a small way.

I didn't expect to fall in love with this book but I did. And it stayed with me for a long time.
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The Missing Shade Of Blue
The Missing Shade Of Blue by Jennie Erdal (Paperback - 29 Mar 2012)
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