2018 has been a year I broadened my reading horizons. I joined my local library and signed up for NetGalley, meaning I got to read some really great books and not spend all my money in Waterstones. I have found myself unintentionally reading a lot of historical fiction, which came as a surprise – not something I ever considered myself interested in. My last read, closing the final chapter of 2018, was Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton.
Velton’s debut novel features the silk weaving Huguenots and journeymen of Spitalfields in the 18th Century and tells the intertwining stories of Sara Kemp and Esther Thorel.
Sara Kemp didn’t stand much of chance when she first arrived in the London parish of Spitalfields in 1768. Tricked into a life of prostitution and living in abject poverty is how she meets Esther Thorel, the wife of a Huguenot silk master. Esther, stuck in a loveless marriage, takes an interest in Sara and hires her as her lady’s maid. Sara and Esther share a tumultuous relationship which is constantly in threat of being unravelled by their actions.
Velton does well to create a rich and atmospheric insight into 18th Century London and captures the historic details beautifully. I found myself enamoured by the details of Blackberry and Wild Rose and I completely devoured it but as for the plot, I found it to be lacking. There is no major catalyst or explosive climax to this book, as far as the story goes, it really doesn’t go at all and that’s the problem.
Overall, I enjoyed this book so I’ll give it three out of five stars. However, I wished it had upped the ante. Characters, whilst unlikable, were well-fleshed, the book itself was descriptive and engaging but in its entirety, it was a little too much style over substance.
Did you read a particular book or genre this year which you were surprised you liked? Let me know!
Thanks to NetGalley and Quercus Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Blackberry and Wild Rose is available to buy from January 10th 2019.
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