From Publishers Weekly
In an entertaining if uneven debut novel from a U.K. publishing executive, dual story lines feature spirited English heroines—a 17th-century country girl and a modern-day craft shop owner—both with a gift for embroidery. As a farewell gift from her married lover, Julia Lovat receives a book published in 1625 and filled with a variety of sewing patterns. Inside the manual, Julia discovers the words, scribbled in pencil over the pages, of Cat Ann Tregenna, a 19-year-old British servant kidnapped by Muslim raiders and taken to Morocco to be sold into slavery. En route, the pirate leader, Al-Andalusi, is wounded in a battle, and Cat and her needlepoint skills are called on to stitch up the man's wounds, an encounter that leads to a tangled interfaith rivalry. As Julia struggles to shake off the dregs of her affair, she finds inspiration in Cat's makeshift diary and travels to Morocco to track down proof that Cat really existed; in the process, she discovers a new life of her own. Johnson imbues her historical story line with a captivating energy and momentum, but the humdrum contemporary quasi-romance doesn't pull its share of the weight. (May)
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“A remarkable view of Barbary pirates and their times, and an engrossing romance of clashing cultures and wonderful characters.”
—Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times
“This is such a lush book! It transported me to another time and other places, enticing me into an exotic, turbulent world in which past and present are seamlessly woven into a mesmerizing story.”
—India Edghill, author of Wisdom’s Daughter
“What a tangled web Jane Johnson weaves with the opening of a book of old embroidery patterns! Two heroines cross paths across centuries. Unworthy lovers, treachery, ghosts, and pirates march through the streets and seas of modern day England, 17th century Cornwall, and Morocco as each woman tries to find what is most important to her. Discovering one’s authenticity is a story in which time doesn’t matter, and Johnson stitches the threads of both stories into a lovely, enticing whole.”
—Karleen Koen, New York Times
bestselling author of Dark Angels
“I was totally enthralled from the first page to the last by this dramatic, exotic, and passionate tale that slips seamlessly through time. Jane Johnson’s wonderfully researched book leaves the fragrance of spices and the rustle of beautiful silks lingering in the mind with images of two exceptional women and the men in their lives.”
—Rosalind Laker, author of The Golden Tulip
"A gripping historical mystery based on historical fact. A sensuous, richly-textured novel."
—Rebecca Stott, author of Ghostwalk
"Exciting, intriguing, fascinating and also illuminating."
—Rosalind Miles, bestselling author of I, Elizabeth
"Brings to life a forgotten part of England's past: the capture of inhabitants of the southern coast by Barbary corsairs in the early sixteen hundreds. Rich with detail, wonderfully researched, this is a novel that will surprise and delight."
—Gerri Brightwell, author of The Dark Lantern