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The Ruins of Lace Paperback – October 2, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402268033
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402268038
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,110,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An exquisite book, as intricate and enticing as the lace from which it draws its inspiration. I read far too late into the night and finished it the next day only to regret reading it so quickly. This is definitely a keeper to be savored. Whoever Iris Anthony is, she's a gifted writer with what is to be hoped is only the first of many wonderful stories to tell." - Sara Poole, author of Poison and The Borgia Mistress

"The Ruins of Lace is a period tale as artfully and skillfully woven as the exquisite length of lace at its center. With tears and laughter, I followed distinctively drawn characters from cloister house to chateau to a smuggler's hut deep in the forest--even to a wooden crate inhabited by an abused dog--all the while fascinated with each twist and turn of the story. This book was a pleasure to read." - Brenda Rickman Vantrease, author of The Heretic's Wife

"Iris Anthony's The Ruins of Lace is a fascinating tale, as intricately woven as her subject matter, about the contraband lace trade in France during the 17th century, when fortunes were won and lost over a bit of trim. In this exploration of greed, exploitation, and the meaning of honor, Anthony's characters leap to vivid life, drawing the reader into their destinies, reminding us that we are all complex beings capable of cruelty -- and that we have, also, the power to resist the dark impulses within." - Sherry Jones, author of Four Sisters, All Queens

"I loved it...lovely historical fiction about a topic that is not commonly written about." - Suzy Takacs, The Book Cellar, Chicago IL

"Spun of intricate, multiple threads, The Ruins of Lace reflects the very fabric whose story it tells: a gorgeously wrought tale of two women bound to the cruelty and beauty of a forbidden perfection, and the dangerous intrigues of the lace prohibition in 17th century France. Iris Anthony has delivered a stunning achievement!" - C.W. Gortner, author of The Queen's Vow

"The Ruins of Lace is an intriguing tale about a time and place full of great beauty and fraught with great danger. Iris Anthony intertwines the delicate threads of character and plot to form a story as complex and lovely as the lace at the heart of this ingenious book." - Gillian Bagwell, author of The Darling Strumpet and The September Queen

"Compelling...I couldn't stop reading." - Karleen Koen, New York Times bestselling author of Through a Glass Darkly and Before Versailles

"The many facets of the story of lace are intriguing...Sweeping" - Kirkus

"As beautifully fashioned as the sought-after lace, this story is sure to impress. " - Publishers Weekly

"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

"A complex novel whose plot threads form a pattern as elegant and intricate as the lace at its center." - Shelf Awareness

"I really liked this story and I think it will appeal to a large audience. I'll definitely be recommending this book to the historical fiction fans and the needleworkers in my life." - From the TBR Pile

"I recommend this one for anyone who loves fully researched historical fiction." - Reading with Monie

"Of course, everybody's story eventually ties together, and the ending is worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy. Definitely worth a read." - Drey's Library

"The threads are expertly woven together, much like the lace for which so much is lost." - Proud Book Nerd

" This fast-paced narrative tells the story of the popular contraband through seven different narrators. Iris Anthony intertwines us in the lives of many for whom lace can buy almost anything, or anyone." - Anokhi Magazine

"I devoured this book, finishing it with satisfaction. A book is a true gift when it entertains and prompts the reader to learn more about the subject matter. The Ruins of Lace was definitely that kind of gift, making me so very happy to be a lover of historical fiction." - Literate Housewife

"This novel was a very refreshing piece of historical fiction. The topic, the black market for lace in 17th century France, is one that I have not seen around before and was eager to read about. Anthony did not let me down and I was treated to quite the entertaining read." - The Maidens Court Book Review

"The story of Ruins of Lace is a compelling story that shows how a simple weaving can value so much to people and the complex story of 6 people whose lives are all intertwined." - Crazy Red Pen

"The Ruins of Lace has opened up a whole new world of questions regarding this subject in itself. 17th c. Lace: forbidden, unattainable, priceless, beautiful and historical." -

"The writing is beautiful." - Carabosse's Library

"A good read about an unusual subject, and interesting time period." - Readin and Dreamin

"The story itself was interesting and a lesson in history as well" - Book Sake

"That such frippery could produce such consequences is tragic and mesmerizing." - Cheryl's Book Nook

"I enjoyed it immensely" - Jenny Loves to Read

"Trust me; you will not look at lace the same ever again! Such a powerful novel that is highly complementary to its time." - Charming Chelsey's

"Overall, The Ruins of Lace is an intriguing historical novel with a toughness that might surprise, given its subject." - Portland Book Review

About the Author

Iris Anthony is a pseudonym. The writer behind the name is an award-winning author of eleven novels. She lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area in a house decorated with French antiques and Flemish lace. Learn more about Iris at

More About the Author

Iris Anthony is a pseudonym. The writer behind the name, Siri Mitchell, is an award winning author of 12 novels. Disguised as her alter-ego, Iris has lived on three continents and traveled to five. She has given up on keeping a diary or buying a château. She stills hopes one day to be able to knit a sweater, play golf on the Old Course, and visit Antarctica. Iris lives in the Washington, DC Metro area in a house decorated with French antiques and Flemish lace. Learn more about Iris at

**author photo by Tim Coburn

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Book Sake VINE VOICE on October 21, 2012
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
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Heather BookSavvyBabe on October 2, 2012
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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By LAS Reviewer on October 2, 2012
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
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia McArthur on October 2, 2012
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.
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