Today is my stop on the blog tour for BlackBerry & Wild Rose by Sonia Velton. A stunning debut novel that I thoroughly enjoyed!
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 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.
My Review: 5/5 Stunning Debut Stars
Before I begin my review, I want to take a moment to congratulate the author Sonia Velton for this incredible and unforgettable debut novel which I really really enjoyed.
The story sets in Spitalfields London in the late- eighteenth century. It centers around the silk weaving industry where the merchants, the masters, the journeymen, the rich and the poor all come together in making the finest silks; at the same time throughout the story we also get to witness the tensions and conflicts intensified due to the differences in social classes. Blackberry & Wild Rose is told from the perspectives of two women: Sara, a young girl who has unfortunately been tricked into prostitution the day she arrives in London hoping to start a new life; and Esher, a respectable wife of a master weaver. One day their lives collided. Esher rescues Sara from the brothel and Sara becomes Esher’s lady’s maid. The story starts from there.
I have to admit this book has taken me by a total surprise! I knew nothing about silk weaving, therefore before I started to read this book I did prepare myself that this book might have a slow start or it was going to be slow read given the potential information and knowledge that I needed to take in. To my complete surprise, no, I finished this book literally in one sitting from morning to evening. I couldn’t put this book down! It was totally and utterly captivating and engrossing from start to finish. It was amazing!
This is such a rich, dark but also atmospheric novel. What I love most about this book, and I believe was also the reason I couldn’t put it down, is the complicated relationship between Sara and Esher. The author has portrayed some of the most complex relationships between two strong- will women. It reflects the rich vs. the poor; the madam vs. the maid; the rescuer vs. the rescuee; the gratefulness vs. ungratefulness; the truths vs. the lies. There are so many layers to Sara and Esher’s relationship that I find it so mesmerising. This is a novel about silk weaving but it is also about lie and betrayal, about jealousy and resentment, about doing the right thing and about love and second chance.
The author has the incredible skills to develop complex characters; at the same time she has also given us the plot twists that I have not seen coming at all. It is such a well thought-out and structured story; I can’t believe it is Sonia’s debut novel!
A rich description with a hint of darkness; complicated and complex characters; unpredictable plot twists. All of these have made this book an incredible debut novel for me. A well deserved 5 out of 5 stars read!
Thank you so much Ella and Quercus Book for sending me this beautiful review copy. I truly and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see more from Sonia Velton!
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