From Goodreads: “When Esther Thorel, the wife of a Huguenot silk-weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel she thinks she is doing God’s will. Sara is not convinced being a maid is better than being a whore, but the chance to escape her grasping ‘madam’ is too good to refuse.
Inside the Thorels’ tall house in Spitalfields, where the strange cadence of the looms fills the attic, the two women forge an uneasy relationship. The physical intimacies of washing and dressing belie the reality: Sara despises her mistress’s blindness to the hypocrisy of her household, while Esther is too wrapped up in her own secrets to see Sara as anything more than another charitable cause.
It is silk that has Esther so distracted. For years she has painted her own designs, dreaming that one day her husband will weave them into reality. When he laughs at her ambition, she strikes up a relationship with one of the journeyman weavers in her attic who teaches her to weave and unwittingly sets in motion events that will change the fate of the whole Thorel household.”
What a powerful tale of manipulation this was!
I remember wanting to read this book last year when I saw it showcased on a few blogs after a publisher book blogger event. Of course I loved the cover and synopsis really intrigued me too.
In the beginning I really felt for both woman. Sara because she’d fallen foul to the vicious Mrs Swann when she arrived in London as a very naive country girl. Esther as a woman mostly ignored by her husband to oversee the household and do good works in the community through the Huguenot church. However both women want more out of life and hope that when their paths cross their lives will change. As the story moved on my sympathy waned for both women, as they weren’t particularly likeable characters. However they were more likeable than some of the minor characters!
Their was so much tension and atmosphere in this book, so many words unspoken and thoughts stifled for fear of speaking out of turn or of wanting more as a woman. Set in 1760s London, the world was ruled by rich white men who could treat everyone as they pleased, with absolutely no consequences. Their word was law even if what they said wasn’t true. Sadly more than three hundred years later we’re not much better off today, especially with the #MeToo movement, zero hour contracts, sex slaves and more.
I loved the historical setting for this book and was fascinated by the whole set up of the weavers and master weavers. I didn’t realise that is was only men who could be weavers and that the profession was carried down the family line from father to son.
I definitely recommend this one if you enjoy atmospheric historical fiction.