I enjoy reading historical romantic fiction. It’s the perfect escape being ‘lost’ in the time the story is set with society’s expectations, the customs and culture as well as the interplay of characters. Real historical events and characters inspired The Silk Weaver and with Liz Trenow’s family being silk weavers for nearly 300 years, this is a story that’s authentic as well as engaging.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 2758 KB
Print Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Pan; Main Market Ed. edition (26 Jan. 2017)
1760, Spitalfields. Anna Butterfield’s life is about to change forever, as she moves from her idyllic Suffolk home to be introduced into London society. A chance encounter with a French silk weaver, Henri, draws her in to the volatile world of the city’s burgeoning silk trade. Henri is working on his ‘master piece’, to become a master weaver and freeman; Anna longs to become an artist while struggling against pressure from her uncle’s family to marry a wealthy young lawyer.
As their lives become ever more intertwined, Henri realises that Anna’s designs could give them both an opportunity for freedom. But his world becomes more dangerous by the day, as riots threaten to tear them apart forever . . .
Going from the freedom of a small village to the social circles her aunt and uncle are a part of in London is quite a culture shock for Anna. Her first mistake happens not long after her arrival (a long journey, very little food and then standing waiting for her cousin William to collect her means that she passes out) when her cousin finds her being revived by two Huguenots who he proceeds to punch and kick for touching a lady. From the variety of food available at breakfast to the expectations of how she must behave, the world is much more complicated than she’s used to. Not allowed out alone, she finds ways to sneak out to sketch and socialise with their dressmaker but is always caught! I loved her spirit of adventure, rebelliousness and resourcefulness. Her path keeps crossing with Henri’s.
Having successfully escaped from France, Henri and his mum have a tough life until he finds his silk Master, M. Lavalle. I loved the weaving in the attic. The relationship between them is more like father and son although there’s an expectation that Henri is blind to …
This is a time of riots due to the cheap French (illegal!) imports of silk and silk Masters hiring untrained people. 1000’s of weavers are out of work and starving who want their voices heard. There are a couple of threads linking Anna. This is a very dark and depraved time and I wasn’t sure how it would all work out. I was tense and at one point tearful. Those pages almost turned themselves as I was waiting for what I wanted to happen!
The pace was perfect, the settings felt very real and I thought the advice at the beginning of chapters brilliant (taken from The Lady’s Book of Manners for Anna’s narration and advice for apprentices and journeymen for Henri’s).
The Silk Weaver is an historical romance with a difference. It’s the first novel I’ve read from Liz Trenow but won’t be my last! One to add to your reading list.
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