King Richard III, Henry Tudor, Elizabeth of York, an industry transformed by the printing press and improved trade between the nations, and bloodshed: We are in 15th-century England, during that period known as "The War of the Roses". British author Vanora Bennett penned this hefty historical novel, performed in a fun variety of British dialects by Katherine Kellgren.
Bennett makes the interesting choice of showing this world through the point of view of Isabel Lambert, a 14-year-old merchant’s daughter who is married and widowed early on her way to becoming a craftswoman in silk. Unlike, say, the plays of Shakespeare, Figures of Silk gives the listener a glimpse into the life of the merchant class in this important and fascinating period.
The year is 1471. Edward IV, who won the throne with the help of his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is restoring law and order after years of war. Under Edward IV, life in England begins to improve. Business is booming once more and the printing and silk industries prosper in London.
When silk merchant John Lambert marries off his two beautiful daughters, their fortunes are forever changed. Elder daughter Jane Shore begins a notorious liaison with the king while industrious and clever Isabel finds herself married into the house of Claver, a wealthy silk dynasty. Fate delivers Isabel a challenge when her new husband is killed and she is forced into apprenticeship to her mother-in-law, Alice Claver.
It is from Alice Claver that Isabel learns to love silk and the exotic and passionate fabrics from Italy, Persia, Spain, Tunisia, and beyond. Isabel learns to make her way in this new world of silk - to find friends and enemies - and she strikes an alliance with her sister's lover, King Edward IV, that will bring the secrets of silk-making to London.
As Isabel grows in power and her plan for a silk industry run by Englishwomen is set into motion, the political landscape shifts in dangerous ways. One sister will fall as the other rises and choices must be made that will change their lives forever.
©2009 Vanora Bennett; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
This book was so interesting and the best narrated book I've listened to. Didn't want to put it down until the end. I highly recommend this book! it sticks close to historical facts and the story is very well written.
I did not want to rate this story, but Audible does not allow to proceed with review unless all categories are rated. The story might be good, but I just could not keep listening to the narrator's whiny voice. She is just not that good with male voices, and her performance sounds artificial.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
This is a marvelous tale. It's the Bad King Richard, and the middle classes. And most interesting, the middle class people who sold and imported silk. Fascinating and very well done.
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