Saturday, 17 May 2008

Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennett

HarperCollins €??

SILK weaver's daughter Isabel Lambert is crying with rage and humiliation in church when she meets a mystery man.
"You have to marry as your circumstances demand," he points out to the girl who's being made to accept the match chosen by her father. "You're young. Take the long view."
So she does. She marries - happily - she learns her mother-in-law's trade, and she becomes a businesswoman.
Then she becomes the lover of the most hated man in English history. (No, not Cromwell. The most hated by the English - Richard III, the man blamed for killing the Princes in the Tower.)
Vanora Bennett packs her books with research - she wrote Portrait of an Unknown Lady, about Thomas More - and here she's writing about the nasty Tudors and the period when England morphed into what would become the British Empire.
Isabel's adventures in the silk trade are fascinating. More fascinating than her love affair with the man she calls Dickon, by a long way.
The attempt to subvert Venice's control of the silk trade by importing weavers to work secretly in London, the poaching of jealously guarded trade secrets - this is fascinating stuff.
The book is less successful than it might be, because Richard is very gradually revealed as the creep he is. Human nature being what it is, readers mostly want the true love to be true and lovable.
On the other hand, a really dastardly villain is good fun too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was fascinated by the women in this book.Their feisty ingenuity in taking control of their lives, at a time when women were not accorded much autonomy, makes for a very good story, and the wonderful detailed information about the silk trade, plus a socking good love story,makes for a wonderful read.