Who has not loved the texture and beauty of silk? Whether you wear it, sleep on it, or have it incorporated into your furniture, silk is a part of your life. In the book Blackberry and Wild Roses, we learn of silk making in the eighteenth century and also of the beginnings of labor unions. I must also say that this exquisite cover so mimics the gorgeous patterns that silk has often incorporated.
Esther Thorel is a wife of a prosperous silk maker. She is drawn to a young girl, Sara Kemp, a woman of ill repute. Esther is a good Christian so it becomes her desire to save this girl. She takes Sara into her home, a place where unhappiness resides along with the looms for silk making. The women form a tenuous relationship not really seeing each other for what they are and what secrets they harbor.
Esther is also a painter. She so wants her husband to incorporate her paining designs into his silk making. However, that is not to be, as her husband, as we come to learn, is a despicable character. Esther is able to eventually convince one of the weavers, a man who hopes one day to become a master silk maker, to weave her design while her husband remains unknowing in this plan Repercussions occur which Esther had never thought of.
Sara, herself sees and knows thing about the Thorel household. Coming to London, seemingly abandoned by her mother, Sara is ensnared by an unscrupulous woman who has Sara become a prostitute. Life is an ever ending series of men and when one man tries to almost kill her during rough sex, she is determined to get away. She now sees Esther as her only hope.
Will these two woman have a future? Will the men in their lives allow them to have their own lives or will Esther and Sara continue to be under the yolk of men who only have their own interests in mind and heart?
Set against a time when women were definitely considered objects, this story brings us the workings of not only silk making but also a look at the way in which men so dominated all things. It was a sad tale, and the character of Esther is loosely based on Anna Maria Garthwaite, a famous silk maker of the mid eighteenth century. Interestingly, the title takes its name from one of her designs.
Some of Anna Maria’s designs
and here’s the author : Sonia Velton has been a solicitor in Hong Kong, a Robert Schuman Scholar in Luxembourg and spent eight years being a full-time Mum of three in Dubai. She now lives in Kent. Her first novel, BLACKBERRY AND WILD ROSE, tells the story of a fictional household of master silk weavers living in eighteenth century Spitalfields. The protagonist is loosely inspired by Anna Maria Garthwaite who was the foremost silk designer of the mid-eighteenth century and the title takes its name from an actual silk design. The novel was shortlisted as a work in progress for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2015 and longlisted for the Myslexia Novel Competition.