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Blackberry & Wild Rose

Back in October I was lucky enough to meet author Sonia Velton at a Quercus event and we chatted about her beautiful debut novel, Blackberry and Wild Rose.

Firstly, lets talk about the cover. To me it is perfection, I absolutely love it, the cover art is based on an Anna Maria Garthwaite design. A woman I hadn’t heard of, but then I didn’t know anything about mid-eighteenth century silk weavers either!

The story starts with a teenager, Sara Kemp who has been sent to London by her mother in search of a better life. Unfortunately the first person she meets is Mrs Swann, who steals her away and forces her into a life of prostitution.

Esther Thorel is the well-respected the wife of a Huguenot silk-weaver. An artist herself, she dreams of bringing her designs to life, although her husband will not hear of it. Whilst out delivering bibles, Esther witnesses Sara being treated cruelly by Mrs Swann and decides to send her a message of hope. When Sara arrives at her door one day, Esther welcomes her into her household as a trusted member of staff, and that is where the story, and troubles, really begin.

To be honest, I was expecting a slightly slow burn with this one, as I had no knowledge of this subject I thought it might be difficult to get into. I couldn’t have been more wrong, I devoured it. It is so well written and so interesting that I found myself totally engrossed. Towards the end, when the troubles start to unfold, I was totally unable to put it down as it became such a compelling page turner.

The two women are both interesting characters and as the story is told from both of their viewpoints, you get a really good insight into both of them. They are both strong; Sara is a survivor and Esther is an ambitious woman. While I certainly had sympathy for Sara and Esther and I had to admire their strength and determination, I'm not sure that I could say I particularly liked either of them.

Thank you so much Quercus for sending me this beautiful book, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. If you're looking for a captivating story about strong women, ambition, love and loyalty and I would definitely recommend Blackberry & Wild Rose.

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