Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Hidden Thread

Title:  The Hidden Thread
Author:  Liz Trenow
Publication Information:  Sourcebooks. 2017. 384 pages.
ISBN:  1492637513 / 978-1492637516

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Anna rests her head on the cushion and traces her finger along the stems of daisies and the nodding heads of bluebells embroidered onto its calico cover."

Favorite Quote:  "You have your whole life before you, and all you need to do is observe until you feel you know every detail of every leaf, every petal, every stalk. And then you must record, and look, and look again, and look yet again."

The Hidden Thread, like Liz Ternow's other book The Forgotten Seamstress, has a beautiful silk fabric at its core. Set in late 1700s London, the book brings to life the silk industry - the London aristocracy who are the customers, the British mercers who are the sellers, and the weavers who are often French refugees.

Anna Butterfield is a country girl from a poor but respectable family. She is sent to London to visit her wealthier aunt and uncle. The hope is that Anna may make a good match, which will provide for her and her sister. Anna, however, is an independent spirit and an artist. Her interest lies in capturing the shapes and colors of the natural world.

A chance meeting introduces her to Henri Vendome, a French weaver. He is a journeyman looking to qualify as a master weaver. His ultimate goal is to have his own workshop and make a better life for himself and his mother. Another chance introduces Anna to Miss Charlotte, a dressmaker to the aristocracy including Anna's aunt.

Anna's aunt and uncle do not approve of these associations, but Anna pursues her friendships and their shared love for fabric, shape and color. Anna wants to draw inspiration from nature. Henri wants to weaver it into his masterpiece. Charlotte may one day create a beautiful gown out of it.

Their story takes place in the world of the silk trade in England. The fashions of the aristocracy are fickle, moving from big bold colors and patterns to more subtle lines and shades. The mercers want to to control the supply of silk and purchase at the lowest prices domestically or internationally for the biggest profits. The weavers fight for what they consider a fair price and a living wage. This history creates the bigger drama into which Anna and Henri's story is set.

What I find fascinating about the book is the description of the silks and work that goes into designing and weaving each one. Most of the clothes we wear are made to a uniform standards with the use of a lot of technology in weaving the cloth itself. It is fascinating to read about the labor intensive process of loom weaving and the constraints put on the design because of the limitations of the loom itself. How wonderful to imagine that no two pieces of fabric are alike and that there may indeed be hidden threads, unseen by the wearer but necessary to the creation of the fabric and its design.

What I love about the writing is how seamlessly the history and the fiction story is blended together. Each enhances the other. Mind you, Anna and Henri's love story is not an unusual story -  a young woman and a young man from opposite sides of track drawn together against family wishes and societal concerns. However, Anna and Henri themselves along with the others in the book are engaging characters. The characters and fiction provide the human anchor and emotions for the history, and the history adds the drama to the fiction.

The Hidden Thread Blog Tour
Title: The Hidden Thread
Author: Liz Trenow
Publication Date: May 1st, 2017
Publication Date: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781492637516

Summary: The Hidden Thread is a breathtaking novel about the intricate craft of silk and the heartbreak of forbidden love.

When Anna Butterfield’s mother dies, she’s sent to live with her uncle, a silk merchant in London, to make a good match and provide for her father and sister. There, she meets Henri, a French immigrant and apprentice hoping to become a master weaver. But Henri, born into a lower class, becomes embroiled in the silk riots that break out as weavers protest for a fair wage.

Goodreads Link: http://bit.ly/2oD9jdX

Buy Links: 
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2oDa5rC
Book Depositoryhttp://bit.ly/2oK9i4W
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2nc4tE4

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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