March 2009 Indie Next List
“You will immerse yourself in London of 1471 in Figures in Silk, another gracefully intriguing blend of historical fact and fiction from the author of Portrait of an Unknown Woman.”
— Nicola Rooney, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
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.
About the Author
VANORA BENNETT is the author of six novels, including Midnight in St. Petersburg and her much-heralded fiction debut, Portrait of an Unknown Woman. She has also written two works of non-fiction. She studied Russian at the University of Oxford and in the USSR, then began her career as a journalist at Reuters and went on to serve as the Moscow correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. She has won the Orwell Prize for political writing for her work at The Times (London) and an Overseas Press Club of America award for her writing on Russia. She lives in London, U.K.
“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
“Readers of historical fiction will be pleased with Bennett’s sure-handed storytelling.”
“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.”
“A substantial historical novel set in turbulent 15th century England. Ably explores themes of romance and politics.”
“A richly textured historical novel.”
-The Times (London)
“A splendid blend of romance and history.”