BlackBerry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton ★★★★★
Updated: Oct 5, 2019
Published: 3rd October 2019 Publisher: Quercus
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Paperback, Audio Genre: Historical Fiction
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 Thorel's 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 unwittingly sets in motion events that will change the fate of the whole Thorel household and set the scene for a devastating day of reckoning between her and Sara.
The price of a piece of silk may prove more than either is able to pay.
I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it in the early hours this morning!!
I could not put it down. I adore historical fiction and this one was just utterly absorbing!
Sarah and Esther are two characters that you can not help but fall in love with and stay with, wanting the best till the very end. This was a moving tale of love, twisty secrets and betrayal. Of one girls dreams and another’s good intentions gone completely awry.
Set in London 1768 Sara, upon stepping off the boat into a London she did not expect, is approached by a Mrs Swann, telling Sara she will not make it to her loggings by night fall she offers to put a roof over Sara's head and take care of her.
Sara has no choice and is led by the arm to a nearby rundown pub, taken upstairs she is told to get comfy and wait while Mrs Swann fetches her a hot chocolate.
Feeling lucky and content, Sara drinks the hot chocolate in her room but starts to feel very dozy and dizzy..
Mrs Swann then removes her purse and pushes Sara back on to the bed, leaves the room and is soon followed by a man that Sara does not know.
Confused in her drugged state as to why this man is removing his clothes, Sara is raped and left feeling in pain and broken.
This is Sara's life, a prostitute with no where to go, until she sees Esther Thorel hurrying out of the rain into a side alley carrying a basket full of bibles. Sara Kemp’s rescue by Esther from the clutches of the awful Mrs Swann offers her the chance to gain control over her life. However, Sara soon finds that she may have unwittingly swapped one form of dependence for another, constantly at the beck and call of her new mistress, Sara quickly realises that the Thorel household is built on hypocrisy and lies and soon tires of the drudgery of life as Esther's new lady's maid, Moreover, the possibility that the shameful, sordid details of her entrapped previous life may be revealed is a constant fear to Sara, especially as not everyone in the Thorel household welcomes her Arrival..
Esther’s desire and sheer will to use her extreme talents to create designs for silk garments is a way to hide from her present, an escape from her 'gilded cage'. It also becomes her only way to defy her husband Elias’s hypercritical values and deceit and his refusal to see her as nothing more than social status symbol, lover and mistress to the household.
Ester and Sara's tale is told over two separate points of view and it gives you a real insight into just how different two women lives could be in the 1800's solely dependant on your birth.
In the end, Sara and Ester both find themselves having to make difficult decisions on a moral and personal level. Choices that not only affect them, but those around them also, some with devastating consequences.
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MEET THE AUTHOR...
Sonia Velton has been a solicitor in Hong Kong, a Robert Schuman Scholar in Luxembourg and spent eight years being a full-time Mum of three in Dubai. She now lives in Kent. Her first novel, Blackberry and Wild Rose, tells the story of a fictional household of master silk weavers living in eighteenth century Spitalfields. The protagonist is loosely inspired by Anna Maria Garthwaite who was the foremost silk designer of the mid-eighteenth century and the title takes its name from an actual silk design. The novel was shortlisted as a work in progress for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2015 and longlisted for the Myslexia Novel Competition.
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