Description: When Anna Butterfield's mother dies, she's sent to live with her uncle, a silk merchant in London, to make a good match and provide for her father and sister. There, she meets Henri, a French immigrant and apprentice hoping to become a master weaver. But Henri, born into a lower class, becomes embroiled in the silk riots that break out as weavers protest for a fair wage.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Why I Picked This Book: I really enjoyed an earlier book by Trenow called The Forgotten Seamstress and wanted to read more from her.
My Impression: There is something about Trenow's historical fiction that pulls me in every time and The Hidden Thread is no exception. Most of my historical ficton reading consists of the wealthy or at least the comfortable and this gave me a peek at the struggles of those in the silk trade - both those that sold the silk and those that wove the silk - which I had never given any thought to before. It's a fascinating world full of tension, heartache, pride and artistry.
The story is told in third person but from two POVs. We go back and forth between Henri, a gifted young silk weaver with a tragic past, and Anna, the daughter of a country vicar and neice of a mercer who makes a comfortable living. After the death of her mother, Anna is sent to London to live with her relatives and hopefully make a good marriage for the survival of her family. She's completely and totally out of her element and incredibly homesick. I found the contrast between the life of a social climbing city woman and country woman incredibly interesting as we see Anna deal with the differences - especially the loss of both her freedom and responsibilities. Henri's responsibilities are also huge. He wants to earn enough to take care of his mother - a role he had to step into when he was very young. He wants to be a master weaver and he's concerned about the riots and the violence and what it will do to the people he loves and his craft.
One thing I really appreciated in The Hidden Thread was that I really saw how difficult these life changes were for Anna. Uprooting from the country to London and having to marry well to secure financial security for the family is not an uncommon plot but I don't think I've ever seen the internal struggle and sacrifice portrayed so well and so deeply.
This is a moving story with likable and sympathetic main characters and a fascinating setting. If you love historical fiction but haven't read Trenow before than I highly recomend you start here. I will be eagerly awaiting her next book!
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