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The Hidden Thread: A Novel Paperback – May 1, 2017
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"Trenow (The Forgotten Seamstress, 2014) interweaves several narrative strands into a vivid historical tapestry, depicting both the silk trade and the silk riots in eighteenth-century England." - Booklist
"In this compelling story set at the time of the silk riots in the Age of Enlightenment, her knowledge of cloth and color shines throughout.
" - Historical Novels Review
About the Author
Liz Trenow is a former BBC and newspaper journalist, now working freelance. She is also the author of The Last Telegram.
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But all does not move smoothly: Anna arrived at Spital Square, expecting to meet her cousin William. But, no one is there to greet her, and overcome with heat, nerves and lack of food, she faints: regaining consciousness with a young Frenchman, Henri, who is kindly caring for her until her cousin arrives to berate Anna and cuff Henri for his ‘liberties”. Of course, the contrast between the two men couldn’t be more clear, and Anna is interested in the young man who showed her such kindness. While there is Anna’s budding romance with a very unsuitable man, due to his working class status, she is also overwhelmed and bored with the restrictions of her place and position in her new home. While she and her cousin Lizzie get on well, Anna’s sketches and paintings are suffering as she isn’t free to roam the fields or gardens drawing inspiration.
Throughout the story, Trenow brings in factual and historical elements: we learn about the silk weaving and trade, the labor difficulties, and plenty about the societal expectations that so burdened Anna in her new London home. Descriptions are lush and deceptive: adding depth and visual imagery that is easy to access, highlighting the materials, decorative elements and lines of dresses, stitching and embellishment. From the different silks, to the weave that affects sheen and feel, the processes are explained with clarity. A clear reference to the title comes with Henri’s masterpiece weave, the one he hopes will elevate his work to Master level, through to the simple beginnings of the thread through to the final sales and creations of items with the silk, few areas are untouched. Adding political and societal changes that will affect both the fortunes of the merchants and the weavers, Anna’s struggles with the new restrictions placed on her life and her continued interest in Henri, immigration issues with the influx of French weavers and even the questions regarding her choice, the story keeps moving forward. Neatly tied with an epilogue that helps to answer some of these questions not addressed directly in the text, the story was engaging, unique and informative, perfect for those interested in the history and feel of a newcomer to mid 18th century London.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
One of the main characters, Anna Butterfield leaves the countryside after her mother's death, and comes to the city where her wealthy Uncle sell silk fabrics. It is the hope that Anna will meet a wealthy husband that can also provide for her father and sister. Anna misses the fresh air of the country and her love of drawing and painting realistic pictures of nature. Anna meets Henri, a French immigrant who is an apprentice to be a weaver, and his goal is to become a Master weaver.
Anna and Henri have a complicated relationship. Anna's Aunt and Uncle remind Anna that she is of a certain social class, and has to have relationships within that class.
Annas' drawings and paintings inspire Henri to weave them into his artistic silk tapestry.
The author writes about silk, weaving, betrayal, honor, social class, hope, family, love and vision. I would recommend this novel if you like the genre of historical fiction.
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Anna Butterfield comes from a small town and with the passing of her mother, her father sends her to relatives in big...Read more