Figures in Silk

Figures in Silk

“Figures in Silk” by Vanora Bennett is available from the library in hardcover.

Jen McCormackFigures in Silk by Valora Bennett is an absorbing historical novel set in London during the late 15th century.

Bennett tells the parallel stories of the Lambert sisters, Jane and Isabel, against the dramatic backdrop of the War of the Roses.

Jane and Isabel are married on the same day in 1471,  and King Edward IV himself attends their wedding feast. Their future and their father’s seem guaranteed to be prosperous and successful, but of course this wouldn’t be a novel without conflict! As married women the sisters defy their father’s wishes and choose their own paths.

Jane marries William Shore, a successful but older man destined for moderate success rather than greatness. She capitalizes on his family’s position by starting a poorly hidden affair with the king and becomes deeply involved in political intrigue at the palace. The king’s attachment to her is well known and gives Jane power and influence far beyond her station as the wife of Mr. Shore.

Isabel dreads her marriage to Thomas Claver, the young and buffoonish son of a powerful silk merchant in London. To her surprise Isabel soon finds herself happy and hopeful in spite of bearing the obvious dislike of her mother-in-law, Alice. Then tragedy strikes, and Isabel has to start over as an apprentice to Alice, learning the silk industry from scratch at the hands of a woman who despises her.

Figures in Silk is a long novel at 450 pages but thoroughly entertaining. The author has done a masterful job of depicting the intrigue and drama of the War of the Roses. Even a reader uninterested in the politics of royal succession will be thoroughly captivated by Isabel’s story and the remarkable history of the silk industry in England.

Interested in more novels set in Tudor England? Try The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir or Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

 

About Jen McCormack

Jen McCormack is the director of the Nashua Public Library. Previously she was director of the Tewksbury (Mass.) Public Library and assistant director and reference librarian at the Amesbury (Mass.) Public Library. She studied history at UNH and earned her master's in library and information science from Simmons College.

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