Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony

The year is 1636 – the smuggling of Flemish lace into France is rampant.  Lace is now a form of currency – it also has the power to elevate or destroy.

Lace - Point d'Angleterre or Brussels Lace - became so popular (at one point 150000 women were employed in the industry) that laws were enacted to prevent other nations stealing away the lace-makers of Flanders and Brussells.  Its was also a perilous industry for a young woman who usually entered into this field as a young child, and often by age of 30, left a blind and crippled woman who resembled an aged hag.  However, France, during the reign of Louis XIII, introduced sumptuary laws which banned the wearing and ultimately the importing of foreign-made lace.  Many strange measures were taken to secure this article - and many devious methods were devised for its transportation across international borders.

See: History of Lace by Mrs. Bury Palliser
Our story starts with two sisters – Katharina, who is a lacemaker at the Flemish abbey of Lendelmolen; the other, Heilwich, who is a housekeeper of sorts to a nearby priest.  Both stories are presented in the first person narrative.

As intricate as the pattern of the lace, the other voices are added to the story - Denis, a border guard whose job it is to seek out the smugglers; a dog used for smuggling; Lisette, a young girl who has fallen under the spell of lace; Alexandre, a young man with no future of his own who seeks redemption and honour; and a wily, scheming count who hopes to use this precious gift as a bribe to secure his own financial future.  

As one by one the characters meet and their stories merge, we are drawn along on the journey – will the prized lace be secured in time to prevent the dishonor of one – or will our young hero fail in his task. The reader will be held spellbound until the final chapters reveal all – and the pattern is complete.

I read this in one sitting – it is not an overly long book, nor are the chapters drawn out.  All is concise and the stories easy to follow.

France in the 17th century is not my particular forte - however, I found this to be a most enjoyable read.  Highly recommended for all who love a good story.

About The Author:
Iris Anthony is a pseudonym. The writer behind the name is an award winning author of 10 novels.

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