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The Ruins of Lace [Paperback]

Iris Anthony
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

24 Sep 2012
An enthralling novel centered around the mad French passion for forbidden Flemish bobbin lace in the 1600s, from a writer whose work has been called unexpected, haunting and powerful by her readers. For those who want something they don t have, Flemish lace can buy almost anything or anyone. But for Lisette, lace begins her downfall, and the only way to atone for her sins is to outwit the noble who now demands an impossible length. To fail means certain destruction, both for her and her beloved. For Katharina, lace is her salvation. If she cannot make this stunning tempest of threads, a dreaded fate awaits...if only her sight wasn t beginning to fail her... Lace may be the deliverance for which they pray...or it may bring the ruin and imprisonment they all fear.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (24 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402268033
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402268038
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,174,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

If you ve ever admired handmade lace and wondered how it was made, you ll be intrigued by this book. In 17th-century France, King Louis XIII banned lace, whether foreign or domestic. Human nature being what it is, this made lace that much more desirable, and it became a lucrative source of income for smugglers. Sadly, many of the young girls who made lace in convents were forced to work in deplorable conditions until they were physically worn out and their eyesight gone, at which point they were turned out on the street. The story is told from alternating points of view, beginning with that of Katharina, a young lacemaker in Flanders, and her sister Heilwich, housekeeper to a priest. Heilwich is in a desperate race to earn the money needed to buy Katharina s freedom from the convent before she can no longer make lace and they turn her out. For Lisette, a young woman of noble birth, lace becomes her downfall as her family loses everything when she ruins a piece of lace belonging to the vicious Count of Montreau. Then there is Denis, a hapless soldier who is constantly outwitted by lace smugglers who use hollow loaves of bread, coffins, and even dogs to smuggle lace into France. And interestingly, we even hear from one of the dogs used in the smuggling. Anthony has written a fascinating story not only about lace, but about obsession, corruption, and self-worth. The ending is tantalizingly ambiguous. --The Historical Novels Review August 2012

About the Author

IRIS ANTHONY is a two-time Christy Award finalist and the author of eight Christian novels. A graduate of the University of Washington s Foster School of Business, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris, though she currently lives in the DC-metro area.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read 21 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback
I never realised how complex lace and the frenzy for having it could be. An interesting tale of the lengths people will go to to own lace and the horrific treatment of those who created the intricate and delicate pieces of lace. These stories are intertwined as delicately as the lace itself and was an interesting read. I never knew that lace had been banned and, whilst it was slow to start, enjoyed reading this book which taught me something new.
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Format:Paperback
One of the benefits of reading historical fiction is that not only is there a good story to be told, but it is also a learning experience. This was exactly the case with Ruins of Lace. When lace was invented, it was a rarity, a luxury for the likes of kings and queens, and the wealthiest of society. And even if lace could be afforded by the lower classes, the nobility banned it to keep it exclusive. Those talented enough too learn the art, were forced to work under horrendous conditions where they suffered extreme eye strain and strict discipline by their masters or mistresses. And when lacemakers lost their eye sight and could no longer work, they were kicked out of the facility in which they worked - their only hope to become prostitutes to earn a living.

Just like the complexities and intricacies in the making of the delicate lace, this story unfolds in the same way. Set in 17th century, Ruins of Lace is about a young girl named Lisette who is one of the best lace-makers in all of France. When she accidentally burns a lace cuff that belongs to a visiting nobleman, and her family is too poor to replace it, it sets off a chain of events with far reaching impact to herself and her family.

Told through the voices of seven characters, slowly their stories become linked into one, making a very strong story. Lace smuggling, treachery, obsession, and love are all themes that are threaded throughout the novel. Vibrant prose, a fascinating story-line, bigger than life characters, and rich historical detail make this a very appealing story. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pensive but interesting historical fiction 11 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback
An intricate and confusing hell of a mess just like lace gone wrong. There is some sort of pensive beauty in this novel and very dramatic flourishes in the end (you either die or get rich!), however that synopsis you've just read? It's nowhere near the real thing.

First of all there is an overabundance of POV's in this book!

Lisette - is a daughter of an impoverished aristocrat, Alexandre is an orphan and his ward, the count is a villain as De Grotte as well, Katharina is a lacemaker and there is also her sister who tries to set her free; Denis is a soldier and Chiat is a smuggler's dog.

Yep, there is dog's POV as well. So, eight characters in total unless I forgot someone. It's too much, folks. The pace crawls, the characters stagnate and muse about their life choices instead of acting. It was frustrating. It took me 15 days to get through the first half of the book and another few hours to read the second half.

I did like how Iris Anthony played with words and images, I also appreciate historical value of this book because the topic itself is pretty unknown to the general public, but overall it was an underwhelming read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  91 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Highly Interesting Story Based on Lace Being Outlawed 21 Oct 2012
By Book Sake - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Before reading this novel I didn't know that lace was ever outlawed anywhere. Now having read this book, I realize why and how anything could be forbidden under the right circumstances.

The book follows seven different point of views and weaves their tale together. While not all of the seven ever meet, they all have an effect on the others and the way their story runs. There is even a dog that we get to read about and his point of view was both my favorite and the hardest for me to read.

The number of different people we read about makes it difficult to have any ties to them, to feel anything for them, to connect with them. The dog was the only one that I felt one way or the other about, but I can't determine if it's because it is a helpless animal in this plot or because of what he goes through. I might have liked the story better if I felt that connection to the characters in the story, but the story itself was interesting and a lesson in history as well.

ARC reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
Book Received: For free from publisher in exchange for an honest review
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars intricate and intelligent historical fiction 2 Oct 2012
By Heather BookSavvyBabe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
3.5 of 5 Stars

The Ruins of Lace is a turn from what I generally read (romance), but this book piqued my interest and I had to give it a try.

With a cast of divergent characters in various levels of social standing, all united by forbidden lace, Iris Anthony has weaved together an intricate and intelligent novel.

There is so much to The Ruins of Lace that makes it a unique novel. The story is told from multiple viewpoints and characters who seemingly have little to do with each other. The central theme is lace, a very special, high quality, much-coveted lace that has been forbidden in France. Certain people and characters will do just about anything to obtain the lucrative lace, and for some of the characters in this book, the lace is their downfall.

Because of the multiple viewpoints and characters, the pacing is quite slow, especially in the beginning. The characters are slowly introduced and their connections to other characters is not clear. As the story progresses, threads begin to connect and the story pieces together. So, despite the slow nature, as the story came together, I found myself really enjoying the book. I appreciate how intricate this book is, and how the story parallels the lace that is central to the novel.

This book is one that left me thinking. When I finished the last page, I was unsure how I felt about what I had just read. I enjoyed the story and how everything pieced together, but I felt that there were a few threads left open. I think that the author may have intended this type of ending to let readers draw their own conclusions, but I would have liked a bit more completeness. As I said, I am used to reading romance books, and I like my endings to have definite conclusions. However, I will say that overall, I was very pleased with this book. I like branching out from my go-to genre on occasion, and I was not disappointed with The Ruins of Lace.

The Ruins of Lace is a distinctively unique novel that I would suggest for readers of historical or literary fiction.

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review*
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended 2 Oct 2012
By LAS Reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
You know the saying, too many books, too little time? It sums up my dilemma perfectly. Sometimes it's a choice between fiction and the many books on historical events I want to read by year's end. Lucky for me I got the best of both worlds in The Ruins of Lace.

It's a fascinating read and shows how much work and effort the author took in researching the topic of lace and its impact on culture and society in 16th century France. What made it all the more captivating was the author decided to tell this story from lots of viewpoints and how lace, its production, and the need to own it, affected people's life. I also enjoyed, and excuse the pun, how all these individual's stories became woven together as the book progressed.

All the characters were well-rounded, and the dialogue natural sounding. You might think a book of this length and subject matter would be slow paced, but this one was anything but. I found myself carrying it with me and was compelled to read what happened next at any chance I got.

I will definitely be looking for more books by Iris Anthony. If you're looking to read something a little different this fall, I highly recommend this one.

Originally posted at LAS Erotic Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As intricate and beautiful as lace. 2 Oct 2012
By Cynthia McArthur - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When I first began this book, I thought to be reading a simple, possibly frilly book about the back-alley lace trade in late 1600's France and Flanders. Imagine my surprise when the story is told from the alternating, first-person points of view of seven different players, one of whom is so improbable, I just did not know how it could possibly flow.
But flow it did! From the almost blind, convent-bound lace-maker who will soon be turned out, to an evil gender-confused Count who believes contraband lace is his salvation, the son of a leper who must smuggle lace to save his family's legacy from said evil Count, and a dumb-as-a-box of rocks soldier honor-bound to find the hidden lace, it was an intricate and intriguing read. (I will not name the improbable player, as I want it to be a surprise to all who read this book.)
This is one of the most satisfying stories I have read in some time. There was nothing frilly about this book, nothing fragile and demure. It was fast-paced, and held no punches.
I highly recommend this book.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual historical novel about the origins of lace 1 Nov 2012
By Great Historicals - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
One of the benefits of reading historical fiction is that not only is there a good story to be told, but it is also a learning experience. This was exactly the case with Ruins of Lace. When lace was invented, it was a rarity, a luxury for the likes of kings and queens, and the wealthiest of society. And even if lace could be afforded by the lower classes, the nobility banned it to keep it exclusive. Those talented enough too learn the art, were forced to work under horrendous conditions where they suffered extreme eye strain and strict discipline by their masters or mistresses. And when lacemakers lost their eye sight and could no longer work, they were kicked out of the facility in which they worked - their only hope to become prostitutes to earn a living.

Just like the complexities and intricacies in the making of the delicate lace, this story unfolds in the same way. Set in 17th century, Ruins of Lace is about a young girl named Lisette who is one of the best lace-makers in all of France. When she accidentally burns a lace cuff that belongs to a visiting nobleman, and her family is too poor to replace it, it sets off a chain of events with far reaching impact to herself and her family.

Told through the voices of seven characters, slowly their stories become linked into one, making a very strong story. Lace smuggling, treachery, obsession, and love are all themes that are threaded throughout the novel. Vibrant prose, a fascinating story-line, bigger than life characters, and rich historical detail make this a very appealing story. Highly recommended.
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