A well-crafted and richly detailed historical novel, Blackberry and Wild Rose is set in the 1760s in the Huguenot silk weaving community of Spitalfields, London.
The story is narrated by Esther Thorel, the discontented wife of a master weaver, and Sara Kemp, a prostitute turned lady’s maid. The conflict between the two women, with their different backgrounds and attitudes, is a central focus of the novel. When they both become involved with men of the weaving community, their actions become part of a tragedy which goes beyond their own desires.
This is a good example of a historical novel which doesn’t let the historical context get in the way of a good read. There was enough information for me to understand what was going on, but it never became tedious or too complex. The characters are all distinctive and believable, with some of them based on real figures from the past. I could see how much research had gone into getting the details right, allowing the reader to be immersed in this particular time and place. It was also the right length and was compelling until the end. I hope Sonia Velton is going to write more novels as I would certainly want to read them.
First published in 2019 by Quercus.