My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

ARC Review: Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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 strikes up a relationship with one of the journeyman weavers in her attic who teaches her to weave and unwittingly sets in motion events that will change the fate of the whole Thorel household.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite book genres because I love reading about a time and place I will never get to actually experience.  Filled with lots of wonderful details of the lives of several classes of people in 18th century England, this book is full of domestic drama as well.  I loved it.

What I Liked:
England in the 18th century was a time of great unrest.  Just as people were rebelling in America, so too were laborers starting to question the status quo in London.  I like that every person in this story has legitimate concerns.  The master silk weavers are feeling the pressure of lower prices from cotton cloth.  The journeymen laborers are then paid less by the masters to the point where they can't feed their families.  The book did a very good job of explaining these dynamics to the reader.

Historical details:
Oh my, the details of this book are just stunning.  From the descriptions of life in a brothel, to the realities of being a house servant, this book gives a very accurate taste of how life was like for several different types of people.  But, just as one can imagine how grim life was for the lower classes, things weren't always so good for women (and men) who were well-to-do.  

I also love all the descriptions of the whole silk weaving process.  I had no idea how a design is translated from a drawing to being worked on a loom.  But this book leads us to appreciate how intricate a process this is.

Each character is well drawn by the author.  And with the exception of Bisby, they are all equally oblivious as to how their actions will effect others.  I liked nearly every character because they each were complex and not entirely good, or evil.  Even someone like Esther's husband, who is infuriating, is merely acting like most men of his time.  The author also made sure to show the stresses he was under to show that even the most privileged person was not secure.

This is one of those stories that could have had the tag line, "No good deed goes unpunished".  Several characters go out of their way to assist someone in need, and get bitten for their troubles.  Esther, the wealthy housewife, hires Sara as a maid in order to get her away from a life as a prostitute.  But Sara is far from grateful.  She seems determined to cause trouble wherever she goes.  Bisby, the journeyman weaver working on his master tapestry, agrees to help Esther weave her own design.  This delays his own work, and risks the wrath of his master, Esther's husband.  The main point of the story is that every action has the potential for unintended outcomes.

There certainly was a lot of tension as secrets are revealed and betrayals are exposed.  I stayed up way past my bedtime reading! 


Release Date:  May 7th, 2019

Author:  Sonia Velton

Publisher:  Blackstone Publishing

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Page Length:  300 Pages

Source:  Edelweiss

Format:  E-Book 

Recommendation:  A real page-turner!  If you enjoy historical fiction, you will revel in the many details of 18th century England.  Great for a book club. 
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  1. I typed this SUPER long comment, and then lost electricity as soon as I hit send, so obviously it didn't go through or save. ;) I was trying to say... historical books aren't usually my cup of tea, but I can appreciate them. I recently read Among the Red Stars and really enjoyed it! It's about the Night Witches in Russia, a group of all-female pilots and navigators. It's based on real people, with the exception of the main characters -- very interesting.

    I do love books with awesome secrets and betrayals! I want to learn things as the characters learn them, and not ten chapters before.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

  2. This sounds like one I could get lost in and I love the cover!


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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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