The Silk Weaver Paperback – 26 Jan 2017
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Liz Trenow sews together the strands of past and present as delicately as the exquisite stitching on the quilt which forms the centrepiece of the story (Lucinda Riley, on The Forgotten Seamstress)
An assured debut with a page-turning conclusion (Daily Express, on The Forgotten Seamstress)
Extraordinary, fascinating . . . deeply rooted in history (Midweek, Radio 4, on The Forgotten Seamstress)
This absorbing novel delves into the secrets of wartime silk production and makes them totally fascinating . . . tremendously atmospheric and convincing in its details, with characters that touch the heart. A book to savour (Kate Furnivall, author of The Russian Concubine, on The Forgotten Seamstress)
A novel about the human spirit - Liz Trenow paints with able prose a picture of the prejudices that bind us and the love that sets us free . . . Splendid (Pam Jenoff, author of The Kommandant’s Girl, on The Forgotten Seamstress)
An intriguing patchwork of past and present, upstairs and downstairs, hope and despair (Daisy Goodwin, on The Forgotten Seamstress)
What a delicious read The Silk Weaver is. I was enchanted by this novel set in eighteenth-century Spitalfields; meticulously researched, richly detailed, the brilliantly structured story shimmered as the threads of silk wound through its pages. I devoured it in two days and was gripped from start to finish. The characters shine too and Anna is an absolute triumph. A fabulous book (Dinah Jefferies)
I absolutely love the details about silk weaving . . . Liz Trenow conjures up atmosphere concisely and brilliantly, with not a spare word to be found. I felt enriched when I reached the end of this gem of a novel, and can’t wait to read her next one (Gill Paul)
Push back the gorgeous brocade curtains of The Silk Weaver's period detail and romance and you find a window on eighteenth century London that, with its prejudice and divisions, is surprisingly pertinent today (Kate Riordan)
I absolutely loved The Silk Weaver. Liz writes beautifully, and I adored the characters of Anna and Henri - their love was so delicately and believably evoked. The background motifs of the silks and the floral designs, and the political/social context which made their relationship so difficult is also brilliantly done. I really couldn't wait to get back to it each evening (Tracy Rees)
A novel of illicit romance set against the world of the silk trade in London.See all Product description
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Liz Trenow has her own roots in East Anglia and in the silk industry so when she found a genuine character from her past who little was known about, she delved to find out more about Anna. When the trail went cold it gave her an amazing opportunity to fill in the gaps with this novel.
The daughter of a poor Suffolk country vicar, Anna was sent to London to stay with an aunt and uncle in London in a bid to find her a suitable husband.
This period was at the height of the silk trade wars and also the arrival of the Huguenots, French Protestants, who had fled France for London. Anna met one such young Frenchman, Henri, a talented silk weaver.
The story of Anna and Henri is beautifully told, the attention to historical detail is faultless and if you are happy being transported back to this era then I recommend this book.
If you, like me, prefer something with an historical base but more contemporary and you haven't already read The Forgotten Seamstress, The Last Telegram and The Poppy Factory (past and present; WWII and both world wars respectively) then give them a go too.
I love reading novels with a factual foundation so Liz Trenow's writing is always welcomed.
It is richly evocative of the times and, although fiction, it does give a relatively good facsimile of life in 18th Century London where class structure seems to rule above all else. Transplanted to this bustling city we learn about the machinations of society and the clear delineations between each class (much more complicated than the three classes you would expect - even the "middle class" have a strata of acceptability within it) through Anna's experience and her kicking against it's petty rules and restrictions. This is never more apparent than the schism between the silk weavers that supply her uncle and her uncle's family. They are seen as being almost less than human and yet without their undoubted artistry and talent the merchants would have little to sell.
The romance between Anna and Henri is beautifully written and you do become involved in this fictional life. The street scenes - particularly in the market place, are vivid and you can almost smell that uniquely silk scent of the weaving lofts. The perils of the weavers demonstrations and riots are brought to life quite well on the page but it is the harsh and, sometimes arbitrary, justice that is brought to bear on them that really stands out. The sections within Newgate Prison do raise the hairs on your neck.
I just felt that it all ended rather abruptly, with a single chapter summing up the rest of Anna's life after Henri completes his Master piece. I didn't expect another couple of hundred pages detailing every nuance of her experience but the end felt rushed and needlessly truncated. The historical timeline has been juggled about a bit for the purposes of the story but the author has gone to the trouble in the afterword of giving both her inspiration for our heroine but also the actual historical facts that buttress the tale which is always a welcome addition to this genre of novel.
A good strong read that sucks you in to a time that feels, moralistically, a million years from ours own but is really only a couple of corners back.
The characters are depicted with the talent that the artist Anna must have had for her paintings, they draw you to them. The story is simple one, and the outcome no surprise. But that does not deter from this gentle, absorbing take at all. I am sad to have finished it, but will definitely try her other books.
The Silk Weaver is based on true historical events and I learned so much about the weaving industry from it.
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