New to me author Liz Trenow is on the blog today with the US release of her story about the silk weavers in 18th century Britain, and based on family history. Please read on for my review of
The Hidden Thread
George III (the one who lost the colony of America) is on the throne and luxury for the rich and well-to-do is always in demand. While some manufacturers of luxury goods are still in operation, most significantly, those who weave and sell silk are in the early years of labor uprisings: domestically woven silk is still in production, but the cost savings in importing and reselling French made silks is a boon to the bottom line, so jobs are few and wages are poor. These sorts of labor issues are slowly gaining footholds, with riots that turn violent and a resurgence of the us v them mentality that is so integrally ingrained with the social class system in Britain at the time. Into this mix of conflict and increased adherence to societal norms enters Anna, niece of the Sadlers, on her first journey to London to make an advantageous match. The Sadler business is silk: and they have built a successful business, and are willing to sponsor Anna on her search for a husband.
But all does not move smoothly: Anna arrived at Spital Square, expecting to meet her cousin William. But, no one is there to greet her, and overcome with heat, nerves and lack of food, she faints: regaining consciousness with a young Frenchman, Henri, who is kindly caring for her until her cousin arrives to berate Anna and cuff Henri for his ‘liberties”. Of course, the contrast between the two men couldn’t be more clear, and Anna is interested in the young man who showed her such kindness. While there is Anna’s budding romance with a very unsuitable man, due to his working class status, she is also overwhelmed and bored with the restrictions of her place and position in her new home. While she and her cousin Lizzie get on well, Anna’s sketches and paintings are suffering as she isn’t free to roam the fields or gardens drawing inspiration.
Throughout the story, Trenow brings in factual and historical elements: we learn about the silk weaving and trade, the labor difficulties, and plenty about the societal expectations that so burdened Anna in her new London home. Descriptions are lush and deceptive: adding depth and visual imagery that is easy to access, highlighting the materials, decorative elements and lines of dresses, stitching and embellishment. From the different silks, to the weave that affects sheen and feel, the processes are explained with clarity. A clear reference to the title comes with Henri’s masterpiece weave, the one he hopes will elevate his work to Master level, through to the simple beginnings of the thread through to the final sales and creations of items with the silk, few areas are untouched. Adding political and societal changes that will affect both the fortunes of the merchants and the weavers, Anna’s struggles with the new restrictions placed on her life and her continued interest in Henri, immigration issues with the influx of French weavers and even the questions regarding her choice, the story keeps moving forward. Neatly tied with an epilogue that helps to answer some of these questions not addressed directly in the text, the story was engaging, unique and informative, perfect for those interested in the history and feel of a newcomer to mid 18th century London.
Title: The Hidden Thread
Author: Liz Trenow
Genre: British, Georgian, Historical Romance
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark
Published on: 1 May, 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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The Hidden Thread is a breathtaking novel about the intricate craft of silk and the heartbreak of forbidden love.
When Anna Butterfield's mother dies, she's sent to live with her uncle, a silk merchant in London, to make a good match and provide for her father and sister. There, she meets Henri, a French immigrant and apprentice hoping to become a master weaver. But Henri, born into a lower class, becomes embroiled in the silk riots that break out as weavers protest for a fair wage.
New York Times bestselling author Liz Trenow weaves a luminous tale of class struggle and star-crossed love.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
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