Figures in Silk
By Vanora Bennett
(William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780061689840, 464pp.)
Publication Date: April 2009
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Two sisters discover passion during the War of the Roses—one in the arms of the king, the other in the world of silk
From the author of the acclaimed novel Portrait of an Unknown Woman comes an epic tale of love and intrigue. 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.
“A splendid blend of romance and history.”
“A richly textured historical novel.”
-The Times (London)
“Readers of historical fiction will be pleased with Bennett’s sure-handed storytelling.”
“A substantial historical novel set in turbulent 15th century England. Ably explores themes of romance and politics.”
“Vanora Bennett knows what drives her characters, both fictional and historical, and they seem as real and easy to relate to as your next-door neighbor. Bennett’s medieval England comes alive in ways a reader can immediately relate to, even while being transported away from the modern world.”
-Christian Science Monitor
“Describe(s) late medieval trade and artisanship in fascinating detail. Stands out for its engrossing storytelling, multidimensional characters, and intriguing interpretation of everyone’s favorite love-him-or-hate-him monarch, Richard III.”
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org