The Hidden Thread: A Novel

The Hidden Thread: A Novel

by Liz Trenow
4.6 8

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The Hidden Thread: A Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
George III (the one who lost the colony of America) is on the throne and luxury for the rich and well-to-do is always in demand. While some manufacturers of luxury goods are still in operation, most significantly, those who weave and sell silk are in the early years of labor uprisings: domestically woven silk is still in production, but the cost savings in importing and reselling French made silks is a boon to the bottom line, so jobs are few and wages are poor. These sorts of labor issues are slowly gaining footholds, with riots that turn violent and a resurgence of the us v them mentality that is so integrally ingrained with the social class system in Britain at the time. Into this mix of conflict and increased adherence to societal norms enters Anna, niece of the Sadlers, on her first journey to London to make an advantageous match. The Sadler business is silk: and they have built a successful business, and are willing to sponsor Anna on her search for a husband. But all does not move smoothly: Anna arrived at Spital Square, expecting to meet her cousin William. But, no one is there to greet her, and overcome with heat, nerves and lack of food, she faints: regaining consciousness with a young Frenchman, Henri, who is kindly caring for her until her cousin arrives to berate Anna and cuff Henri for his ‘liberties”. Of course, the contrast between the two men couldn’t be more clear, and Anna is interested in the young man who showed her such kindness. While there is Anna’s budding romance with a very unsuitable man, due to his working class status, she is also overwhelmed and bored with the restrictions of her place and position in her new home. While she and her cousin Lizzie get on well, Anna’s sketches and paintings are suffering as she isn’t free to roam the fields or gardens drawing inspiration. Throughout the story, Trenow brings in factual and historical elements: we learn about the silk weaving and trade, the labor difficulties, and plenty about the societal expectations that so burdened Anna in her new London home. Descriptions are lush and deceptive: adding depth and visual imagery that is easy to access, highlighting the materials, decorative elements and lines of dresses, stitching and embellishment. From the different silks, to the weave that affects sheen and feel, the processes are explained with clarity. A clear reference to the title comes with Henri’s masterpiece weave, the one he hopes will elevate his work to Master level, through to the simple beginnings of the thread through to the final sales and creations of items with the silk, few areas are untouched. Adding political and societal changes that will affect both the fortunes of the merchants and the weavers, Anna’s struggles with the new restrictions placed on her life and her continued interest in Henri, immigration issues with the influx of French weavers and even the questions regarding her choice, the story keeps moving forward. Neatly tied with an epilogue that helps to answer some of these questions not addressed directly in the text, the story was engaging, unique and informative, perfect for those interested in the history and feel of a newcomer to mid 18th century London. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
KrittersRamblings 10 months ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Anna Butterfield comes from a small town and with the passing of her mother, her father sends her to relatives in big city London and with the culture shock she is expected to become a lady of society and find the match best for her family. When a chance encounter happens right when she gets in town, it will turn her life upside down. What a great book! Another historical fiction book that informed me of what is going on in that time for society and women specifically and schooled me on the business of silk. I have read a lot of historical fiction books that comment on fashion and the evolution, but I loved how this book zeroed in on silk and the complexities of making it, designing with it and the business of it. I have said this before, but I love when a book makes me want to google and find out more and this one did over and over again.
ksnapier475 More than 1 year ago
Anna Butterfield is living with her uncle since the passing of her mother. Her uncle, a silk merchant, lives in London. While there her uncle is supposed to find a match for her. Someone who can support her father and sister, also. Henri is a French immigrant. Working as an apprentice weaver, he dreams of one day being a master weaver. When the weavers protest for a better wage, Henri becomes involved. First, I was given this book my NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review. I found this book very interesting. I thought I knew a lot about English history but I had never heard of the silk riots. Set in the 1700s, I found the author's description of silk weaving interesting. I believe her research into this time and the silk business to be extensive. This historical fiction includes areas that fascinate me, including silk, honor, hope, love, vision, and so much more. I highly recommend this book.
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
This was an historical fiction that takes place in 1860. It grabbed me right from the beginning and took me on a roller coaster of emotions as I was reading. It is based on a couple of actual events. The main character, Anna Butterfield, was inspired by Anna Maria Garthwaite who was an English textile designer known for and celebrated for the intricate floral designs she created. The other event in the book is the "silk riots" that took place to fight for an honest wage for the weavers, most of whom were French immigrants. These events did not take place at the same time in history, but they were woven together in a great plot. Anna Butterfield is a vicar's daughter from a small town on the coast of England. When her mother dies, her father sends her to live with his sister and her family to be introduced to society. The hope is that she will meet a wealthy man so he can support Anna, her sister and father when he is no longer able to work. When she arrives in Spitalfields, she faints and is rescued by a young frenchman named Henri. Little does she know that this chance encounter will change her life. Her aunt is determined to assist her in making a "good match" and lets her know in no uncertain terms that she is above the french immigrants. It turns out that Henri is a journeyman weaver who is looking to design his masterpiece to be entered into the Company as a Master Weaver. Anna and Henri bump into each other a few times until they realize that they have true feelings for one another. Anna, who is an artist of nature, designs a floral pattern that Henri wants to use for his masterpiece. Of course this courtship/friendship is deemed unacceptable for Anna. Her family are torn apart when they find out. Anna's aunt has a man in mind for her and he actually proposes, but Anna does not love him. Meanwhile, the weavers are trying to stop the merchants from importing illegal french silk and paying below the accepted rate for their product. This is where the riots come in. One of Henri's good friends gets caught up in the events and Henri tries to help him and ends up in trouble. Can Henri and Anna fight back against society? Can they fight back against what is expected of them? Is there anyway that they can be together? Will the weavers get the government to back their demands so they can make an honest living? This book covered so many topics from the period. Racism, romance, wage riots, classism, persecution - religiously, gender, race, status and much more. I was so glad there was a good epilogue so I was not left wondering about these characters when the story ended. If you like historical fiction, pick this book up, it will not disappoint. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
Hidden Thread is set in London England during the 1760s. Anna Butterfield's mother passes away and her father sends her to live with her uncle in London, who is a silk merchant. She meets an immigrant from France, Henri. Henri hopes to one day be a Master Weaver. Both are attracted to one another but because they are from two different worlds, it is forbidden for them to be together. I did find Anna and Henri's story in the Hidden Thread to be pretty good. I found the struggles of the merchants to be quite interesting. I had no idea that this was part of English history and found it to be intriguing and refreshing. I found the book to be emotional at times with the challenges Anna and Henri face. Though I did enjoy other books by Liz Trenow more, I still think this is a must read. 4 1/2 stars. I received this book from NetGalley.com, but was not required to write a review. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
So many words come to me when I recall my thoughts about reading this book. Sadness, loneliness, greed, young love, snobbiness, gut wrenching, these are just some of the feelings I felt and things that happen in this story. A young girl (Anna) is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in the big city of London. Her widowed father and young sister still live in the country where she longs to still reside. Anna's aunt and uncle own a silk business and are considered not among the most wealthy but well off. This is around 1770 when the silk riots were threatening to begin. Young French immigrants were fleeing their country and coming to England to weave their wares and wanted to be pay fair wages. However many English silk sellers were bypassing these young Frenchmen and importing directly from France and buying cheaper without paying import taxes. On Anna's first day, she meets Henri who is one of these young Frenchmen. Immediately, William, Anna's cousin, sees her talking to Henri and forbids her to engage in conversation with a "cabbage head" under any circumstance. Their story with the background of the silk riots is the basis of this book. A wonderful read, one that I am glad that I requested and most grateful that I got to read. A story that was well told and one that I was sorry to part with at the end. Huge thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest unbiased review.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
The Hidden Thread by Liz Trenow is set in London in 1760. George III is the King of England and the naturalist movement is gaining momentum. Anna Butterfield is heading to London to stay with her father’s sister and her family. Anna is leaving her small village and her family for the first time. She is to try to make an advantageous match to help her family. Anna arrives at Spital Square and there is no one to greet her. Anna ends up fainting in the street (lack of food, the heat, and nervousness). Anna awakens to find a young Frenchmen assisting her. But then her cousin, William approaches berating her for being late and hitting the Frenchmen for touching her. Anna is taken to Sadler and Son where her Uncle Joseph and Aunt Sara along with her cousins, William and Elizabeth (aka Lizzie) live and have their shop on the bottom floor. Joseph Sadler is a mercer (a dealer in silks) and has a thriving business. Aunt Sarah quickly commissions appropriate dresses for Anna so she can be presented to society. Anna is unused to the dresses, the many rules of society, inactivity and freedom to go out. Most of all she misses seeing gardens which is inspiration for her sketches and watercolors. While out with Lizzie, Anna encounters Henri Vendome, the Frenchman who assisted her. He is a journeyman weaver to M. Jean Lavalle and he will soon be working on his master piece. If this piece is accepted, Henri will become a master weaver. Anna and Henri are attracted to each other, but they are from different classes. The political situation in London is volatile as journeyman weavers want fair wages and are upset with mercers who are importing foreign silks without paying the import taxes. Is there a chance for Anna and Henri? Can they overcome the social divide and have a future together? How will the political situation affect mercers and weavers? Pick up The Hidden Thread to find out! The Hidden Thread is nicely written and has good main characters. I appreciated a female main character who was intelligent and creative. Liz Trenow is a descriptive writer who includes minute details (about garments, the sights, of nature, etc.). This type of writing allows for me to picture the story in my head. The author did a wonderful job at capturing that period in time as well as the sights and smells of London. Readers are given delightful descriptions of finished silks. It was interesting to read about the origins of silk and what goes into making the finished product. I was especially fascinated with the weaving process. The Hidden Thread reminds me of books written by Rosalind Laker. I give The Hidden Thread 4 out of 5 stars. There are a couple of slow sections, but overall I thought The Hidden Thread to be an engaging novel. The cover of the book really does not do the book justice. The original cover is more eye catching and so is the initial title (The Silk Weaver). The title (to me) refers to the threads that are hidden in a tapestry—the warp threads. It also references a special technique used by Henri for his master piece. I did feel that the book is a touch too long. I felt a little more editing would have beneficial. I enjoyed reading The Hidden Thread. There are some good life lessons included in the story. The author provided an epilogue that wrapped up all the various storylines which I really appreciated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
London - 1760 Anna Butterfield, age 18, is traveling in a coach when they encounter a riot. She has left the coach at a public house in Spitalfields where she is to meet her Cousin William Sadler. After the long trip and little to eat, she faints. A young man speaking French kindly assists her and gives her some water. She tells him she is to stay with her uncle Joseph Sadler of Spital Square. He owns and runs Joseph Sadler and Sons, Mercers to the Gentry. When her cousin shows up, he is rude to the young man who has helped her. He calls French people like him cabbage heads. Anna’s Uncle Joseph and Aunt Sarah welcome her as does her Cousin Elizabeth (Lizzie). Having recently lost her beloved mother, Anna is grateful to them for inviting her to stay. Anna’s father is a vicar who now has to care for Anna’s younger somewhat mentally and physically disabled sister. Sarah, Anna’s father’s sister, insists that she be outfitted with beautiful clothes. Anna is fascinated with the beautiful silk fabrics and their unusual smell. Silk is their business. One day, Anna sees the young French man, Henri, who helped her and stops to thank him for his kindness to her. He is an indentured silk weaver. His family escaped from France with only he and his mother surviving the trip. Henri is preparing his master piece silk weave after which he will become a master weaver and can have his own shop. He finds that smaller wildflowers are all the rage and these are the flowers that Anna loves to paint. The story follows the family depicting the riots of the weavers for better pay. Although Anna’s aunt and uncle forbid her to have anything to do with Henri, she sees him now and then and together they develop a friendship. I enjoyed this story very much. I have read other books about the Spitalfields area of London being the heart of the silk weaving industry and how difficult life was for the residents. But, this book goes into greater detail about the making of silk which I found fascinating. As the author comes from a family of silk weavers, she understands the craft and explains it beautifully. We also see how difficult the times were for the workers and the trials they faced every day. I hope other readers like this book as well. Congratulations, Liz Trenow on a great story. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.