Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Spitalfields riots, Blackberry and Wild Rose tells the stories of an unhappy Huguenot wife, trying to both support her husband and live her dreams, and her English maid, trying to make something of herself.
It's a study in contrasts; rich against poor, churched against the unchurched, pious wife against former prostitute, noble worker against discontent firebrand, masters against journeymen. The two main female protagonists speak in their own voices, telling their story, their motivations and perspective on things. The classism is obvious, but subtle. The snobbery is downplayed, yet prominent. Neither Sara nor Esther can understand the other, but it's all too clear to the reader.
Esther Thorel falls in love with a noble journeyman weaver, Lambert, because he teaches her to weave; Sara Kemp falls in love with his rebellious colleague, Barnstaple, because there is fire in his eyes and his speech. Throughout the warp of love and honour, Velton weaves in the weft of discontent, jealousy, and malice. With each word, each line, each pass of the shuttle, you're drawn to its inevitable end. You know what's going to happen, there's no other way this story can go. Not with what you know of Esther and Sara, of Lambert and Barnstaple, of the way Elias Thorel sees the world.
All you can do is read on as the world crumbles.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Quercus Books via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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