‘On the way back down the grand staircase to the hall, her eye was caught by a portrait, hanging in a particularly dark corner of a landing. It was of a young woman, seated at an easel; she was painting a silk moth, its eggs nestling on a mulberry leaf.’
1704: Anastasia is desperate to escape her controlling and volatile father and plans to marry in secret. But instead of the life she has dreamed of, she finds herself trapped in Venice, the unwilling wife of a silk weaver.
Despite her circumstances, Anastasia is determined to change her fate…
2017: Millie wants more from her relationship and more from her life. So when her boss Max abruptly ends their affair, she takes the opportunity to write a feature in Italy.
Staying in a gorgeous villa, Millie unexpectedly falls in love with the owner, Lorenzo. Together they begin to unravel an incredible story, threaded through generations of silk weavers.
And Millie finds herself compelled to discover the identity of a mysterious woman in a portrait…
Published July 19th 2017 by Bookouture (Uk)
When I read historical fiction, what I really, really want is to be completely transported to another time and place. I want rich and evocative description, an epic journey of discovery, awe inspiring battles against adversity and a romance to sweep me away. The Silk Weavers Wife fits the bill pretty damn well!
Switching between past and present, the book tells the story of two women in the midst of a metamorphosis. In the 21st century, Millie is 38 and in the midst of a messy affair with her married boss and her dreams of a family of her own are starting to fade. Rewind four hundred years, and Anastasia has been denied marriage to her true love by her cruel and violent father and forced into a loveless marriage to pay off a debt.
I absolutely adored the sections set in the 1700’s as Debbie Rix brings to life the sights and sounds of early eighteenth century Italy – transporting the reader effortlessly between the rural tranquility of Lake Garda and the bustle and noise of Venice. Anastasia is everything you want in a heroine – brave, passionate and determined to be independent. Given the time and her gender, Anastasia might easily have accepted her fate, but she can not be contained, and inspired by the silk moths she observes while a prisoner in her husbands home, she sets about a metamorphosis into an educated, self sufficient woman of talent, with a strong sense of loyalty.
Millie is somewhat of a contrast. Her trap is of her own making and I found it frustrating that despite being an intelligent woman, she was settling for being the mistress of the unbearably arrogant Max. But whether the prison is enforced or self inflicted, this book is about finding the courage to make changes and transform your own destiny, and ties together nicely the stories of both women.
In both past and present, I found the backdrop of the Italian Silk industry fascinating and absorbing! From the larvae of the silk moth to the exquisite finished pieces of silk, I was intrigued. I can only imagine the dedication and work that went into creating such beautiful material using ancient processes and thoroughly enjoyed learning a little about it.
I enjoyed The Silk weavers Wife, in particular Anastasia’s section, and found myself completely absorbed and enchanted while reading about her life. I also thought the romantic element was done very well, both in past and present, and was enough to sweep the reader up in without overshadowing this gorgeous story. With beautiful descriptions, a brave and inspiring heroine and the fascinating glimpse into the ancient art of silk making, I savoured this book and looked forward to a chance to pick it up again. A winner for me.
(I read an E-copy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)