The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

by Kelli Estes

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Overview

USA TODAY BESTSELLER!

"A powerful debut that proves the threads that interweave our lives can withstand time and any tide, and bind our hearts forever."—Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author of Belleweather and The Vanished Days

A historical novel inspired by true events, Kelli Estes's brilliant and atmospheric debut is a poignant tale of two women determined to do the right thing, highlighting the power of our own stories.

The smallest items can hold centuries of secrets...

While exploring her aunt's island estate, Inara Erickson is captivated by an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. The truth behind the silk sleeve dated back to 1886, when Mei Lien, the lone survivor of a cruel purge of the Chinese in Seattle found refuge on Orcas Island and shared her tragic experience by embroidering it.

As Inara peels back layer upon layer of the centuries of secrets the sleeve holds, her life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core—and force her to make an impossible choice. Should she bring shame to her family and risk everything by telling the truth, or tell no one and dishonor Mei Lien's memory?

A touching and tender book for fans of Marie Benedict, Susanna Kearsley, and Duncan Jepson, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk is a dual-time period novel that explores how a delicate piece of silk interweaves the past and the present, reminding us that today's actions have far reaching implications.

Praise for The Girl Who Wrote in Silk:
"A beautiful, elegiac novel, as finely and delicately woven as the title suggests. Kelli Estes spins a spellbinding tale that illuminates the past in all its brutality and beauty, and the humanity that binds us all together."
—Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author of The Beekeeper's Ball

"A touching and tender story about discovering the past to bring peace to the present."
—Duncan Jepson, author of All the Flowers in Shanghai

"Vibrant and tragic, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk explores a horrific, little-known era in our nation's history. Estes sensitively alternates between Mei Lien, a young Chinese-American girl who lived in the late 1800s, and Inara, a modern recent college grad who sets Mei Lien's story free."
—Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife and Sisters of Heart and Snow



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492608332
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 07/07/2015
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 45,306
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Kelli Estes lived in the deserts of eastern Washington state and Arizona before settling in the Seattle area, which she loves so much she plans to forever live near the water. She's passionate about stories that help us see how the past shaped who we are today, and how we all have more in common than not. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. This is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Sunday, February 7, 1886—just past sunset

Puget Sound, Washington Territory

Mei Lien felt the steamship shudder beneath her feet and wondered if the quaking of her own body had caused it.

"You don't have a choice," Father hissed. Before she knew what was happening, he'd prodded her to the ship's cold metal railing. "Climb up, Mei Lien."

She looked at him in horror. She'd always obeyed him without question. But this? "I can't." She pressed a hand to where her heart pounded in her chest and felt the coin purse under her bindings. "Please!"

His face hardened. "Do not disappoint me, Daughter. Do it. Now!"

His tone made her fear recede long enough for her to hear her own voice of reason. It told her Father was right. She had no other choice.

Shaking, she climbed up on the railing to sit at the top, her hands holding tight to the wet metal bar. Beneath her right palm, she felt a pockmark where someone had painted over an old chip. She wondered if that was the last thing she'd touch before death.

Before Mei Lien could say another word, Father placed his palms at the small of her back and pushed her off the steamship.

"Bàba!" she screamed, the words echoing as she fell. Her breath left her as she hit the bitterly cold water. Icy fingers dragged her into the void below.

Somehow she found the strength to fight. Kicking and clawing at the water, she dragged herself upward, her lungs on fire.

As her head broke through the surface, she dragged in lungfuls of air between racking coughs. When she managed to wipe the water from her eyes with her fingers, she saw the ship passing dangerously close. Father stood at the railing but his back was to her, as if he hadn't just cruelly pushed his only child to what could be her death.

A wave splashed over her face, and she felt herself sinking again. This time her limbs felt stiff and her muscles were starting to cramp in the near-freezing water. Instinct took over, making her feet kick as she dragged her body away from the ship with her arms, as Father had taught her all those years ago. She shut off her mind and swam, with no idea of what she might be heading toward.

Mei Lien's head pounded from the cold. With each kick, her limbs ached to rest, to give in to the pull from below that promised ease and warmth.

She looked one last time toward the ship, but it was little more than a distant blur of light growing smaller.

Her family was gone from her. Her life was gone from her. If she gave in to the pull of the water, what would it matter?

She stopped trying to fight and let herself fall into the water's frigid grasp, willing it to carry her to the spirit world. She even saw death coming. It rose out of the water as a huge, black sea monster, one glaring yellow eye boring into her aching head. Just as the monster grabbed her, she felt the void take over her mind.

She welcomed it.

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