A royal wedding masks the unfolding of Catherine de Medici’s murderous plot against the Huguenots. Will any of the Huguenot princes survive? Life and death rest with two people …Rachelle Dushane-Macquinet, couturiere from a celebrated silk-making family, has come back to the Louvre Palais to create the royal wedding gown. Recruited into the evil Queen Mother’s ring of women spies, she must use her wits to preserve her honorand the lives of her fellow Huguenots.Marquis Fabien de Vendome has also returned from a buccaneering venture against Spain. The Queen Mother plans to implicate him in an assassination. But Fabien has designs of his own.A man and a woman caught up in history’s deadly swirl and love’s uncertainties seek to escape the venom of Madame le Serpent. Faith in Christ must uphold them, and all who stand alone, in a city gone diabolically mad.
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Written on Silk
By Linda Lee Chaikin
ZondervanCopyright © 2007 Linda Chaikin
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Gown for the English Queen
CHÂTEAU DE SILK, LYON, FRANCE
Beneath the upper window of the renowned Château de Silk's atelier, crimson blossoms on bougainvillea vines sprawled with languid grace along a wall that secluded the inner courtyard's garden. The wind swept through the mulberry orchard, rallying the verdant green leaves into a chorus of praise. Roses, amorously tended to by the stooped gardener, Monsieur Jolon, offered their fragrance to the wind's promise as it flowed over the wall, through the open balustrade to the window of the Dushane-Macquinet Silk House.
A burst of activity erupted as a scurry of voices announced the approach of horsemen. Mademoiselle Rachelle Dushane-Macquinet, who was unwinding a wooden spool of golden thread, looked across the atelier to Nenette, her grisette in training and her amie.
"Who is coming, Nenette?"
Nenette was already at the widow, drawing aside the Alençon lace curtains.
"A carriage, Mademoiselle. It is most dusty and ugly - ooh, but a most handsome man is stepping down. La, la!"
"You are at heart, most assuredly, a hopeless flirt, Nenette." Idelette spoke wearily from her position at the cutting table, where she was measuring pink silk for the finishing touches on the surprise birthday dress for her mignon sister, Avril.
Rachellelaughed and looked over at Nenette. "I think you should marry Andelot Dangeau, a most fine and honorable young man."
Nenette flushed until her freckles blended into her pert face.
Idelette, who was two years older than Rachelle, looked at her dourly. "Andelot is a most serious young monsieur; he has no thoughts of marriage at this stage of his life."
Rachelle covered a smile. She was almost certain her sister concealed an interest in Andelot.
"He wants to attend the University of Paris and become a scholar," Idelette said, slipping her gold thimble on with artistic flair.
"How do you know?" Rachelle asked with feigned innocence. "Has he been sharing his heart with you again?"
One of the other grisettes snickered, and then quickly ducked her head when Idelette gave a sharp turn of her fair head in the girl's direction.
Rachelle set the wooden spool aside on the long cutting table and stood. "Do you suppose the arrival in the carriage is Sir James Hudson at last?"
"The monsieur did look very English," Nenette said, tapping her small chin.
Idelette jabbed her silver needle into her velvet pin cushion and also stood, shaking out her dark blue skirts. "Such nonsense. One does not look very anything. How are the English supposed to look?"
"I beg to differ, Mademoiselle, but I can tell a Spaniard anywhere," Nenette piped, pursing her lips.
Idelette's mouth tightened.
Rachelle looked at her sister, sobering. Idelette had not been with her at Amboise when over two thousand Huguenots were butchered to the satisfaction of Spain, though Rachelle had told her family what happened there, as well as the gruesome scene Andelot had unwittingly attended.
"If it is Monsieur Hudson," Idelette continued, "ma mère will be most upset, I assure you. He was to arrive yesterday, as you know. In another hour it will be dusk and tomorrow is Sunday. That means Scripture reading tonight."
It was the family custom to prepare their hearts for Sunday worship with a simple supper followed by an evening of prayer and Bible reading from the secret French Bible her parents kept hidden like gold coins in a treasure chest.
"If it is Sir James Hudson, he will simply need to adjust to the household," Rachelle said, shrugging lightly. "I hope so; I can think of a hundred questions to ask him about the Huguenot immigrants at Spitalfields. I do hope Père agrees to open a dress shop there with the Hudson family."
"I have reason to believe he will. There is even talk of transporting silkworms and mulberry cuttings by ship to Hudson land."
"I wonder if the weather of the English countryside is warm enough."
From outside the atelier door they heard hurried footsteps climbing the flight of stairs.
Rachelle whipped around to Idelette. "Hide the dress."
Idelette snatched the pink dress and held it behind her as the door flew open.
Avril, who would turn fourteen in two weeks, rushed breathlessly into the room. She was almost a twin in appearance to her eldest married sister, Madeleine, in Paris, who was married to Comte Sebastien Dangeau.
Avril's hair was dark and glossy, her eyes a deeper shade of brown. She looked jubilantly from Idelette to Rachelle.
"The Englishman is here. He told Mère his driver became ill yesterday and that is why he is so late. He was obliged to stop at an inn overnight. He has a new driver. He is coming up now with Mère. He has a satchel with a Hudson dress pattern and he asked specifically to meet the 'Daughters of Silk.'"
Rachelle clasped her hands together and turned to Idelette.
"He has inquired of us?"
"Our reputation grows, sister, even apart from Grandmère - not that I wished it so."
"You see?" Rachelle took hold of her shoulders and whirled her around the atelier until Idelette burst into a rare display of laughter.
"Cease, you sotte sister!"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lush with rich historical details, brimming with action, and romance, Written on Silk will not easily disappoint. Fans of Linda Lee Chaikin will welcome her second novel in The Silk House Series. I would recommend reading the first book in the series, first. This series is written sequentially, and some important things happen in the first book and the full result is shown in the the second book, without a full explanation of what happened first. I really enjoyed this book, but I might not have if I had not read the first book before devouring this one. I love how Ms. Chaikin brings the tumultuous historical setting of Catherine de Medici's court to life, vividly depicting characters, fictional and real alike. The pages of this book turned steadily for me, but not with a fierce urgency. I wasn't exactly staying up late past 2 a.m. for this book, but that's totally okay, I need my sleep ;) I really like the way Ms. Chaikin combines the fictional characters with the non-fictional ones so flawlessly. I felt no difference in the depth of the characters and how I responded to them, which is something that happens occasionally with Historical Fiction. Sometimes the fictional characters are more real than the real-life historical figures, but not in this book. Ms. Chaikin does a fabulous job of perfectly finding that balance, which is one of the many things that make this story great! This book made me think about how thankful I am to have a Bible in my own language. We have often heard stories of Tyndale and his translation of Greek and Hebrew into English, but this is a tale of the Huguenots and their fight for the French Bible. I learned alot. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy historical intrigue. Also, I should warn you that this book has some elements to be aware of as it deals with a mass massacre of many Huguenots, the violation of a young lady, and the immorality if the French court at that period of time. All handled very well by Ms. Chaikin, in a non-graphic way that made it easier to read without too much detail. But overall a satisfying read.
I love Linda Chaikin's historical romances and would normally give a five star rating, but I had trouble following this one. I often had to go back and figure out who characters were, and perhaps that is due to my ignorance of the French aristocracy. Overall I enjoyed this book very much, it just took me more time to figure things out than with her other books.
I love all of her books but this serie really has a richer texture and depth. These are truely her best works yet!