The Ruins of Lace
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The Ruins of Lace

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3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  861 ratings  ·  241 reviews
Lace is a thing like hope.
It is beauty; it is grace.
It was never meant to destroy so many lives.

The mad passion for forbidden lace has infiltrated France, pulling soldier and courtier into its web. For those who want the best, Flemish lace is the only choice, an exquisite perfection of thread and air. For those who want something they don't have, Flemish lace can buy al...more
Hardcover, 443 pages
Published March 18th 2013 by Thorndike Press (first published October 1st 2012)
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Judy & Marianne from Long and Short Reviews
Originally posted at: http://www.longandshortreviews.blogsp...


You know the saying, too many books, too little time? It sums up my dilemma perfectly. Sometimes it’s a choice between fiction and the many books on historical events I want to read by year’s end. Lucky for me I got the best of both worlds in The Ruins of Lace.

It’s a fascinating read and shows how much work and effort the author took in researching the topic of lace and its impact on culture and society in 16th century France. What ma...more
Cheryl
Katharina has spent her whole life making lace. It is the only thing she knows. Without it, she will be lost. This is why; Katharina can not let the nuns know that she is almost blind. Because if the nuns where to learns Katharina’s secret then Katharina would be thrown out on the streets.

Lisette is in love. Although, Lisette is about to learn the true cost of love. The Count is obsessed with lace. He wants it and will do anything in his powers to get it.

I have had a history with historical an...more
Kamilla
The story is told from the viewpoint of 7 characters in alternating chapters. It's just too many voices and the chapters overlap in odd ways at times. I've read a lot of books from multiple POV and even for the best writers maintaing 3-4 characters is difficult, maintaining 7 and keeping your reader interested ESPECIALLY in a book under 320 pages is impossible. This unfortunate choice flawed the book. At most 3 of the characters were needed to tell the story and there are 2 that are completely i...more
Stephanie
2.5 stars

This review originally appeared at www.readinasinglesitting.com.

Yesterday I looked at Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch, in which a reverse chronology storytelling approach is used as a device to mirror the confusion and disconnectedness felt by the characters. By beginning the story with its end, it seems that the intention is to create a sense of un-anticipation, of pointlessness, of inappropriate awareness of these strangers to whom we’re just being introduced.

It’s certainly not unheard...more
Susan Meissner
This was news to me, that there was a time in French history when lace was contraband. To possess it was a criminal act and to smuggle it into the country was treasonous. Whenever someone with means wants something they can’t readily have, there is always someone who will get it for them for a price, regardless of the risk or who they have to abuse and use to get it.

Told in multiple view points, including that of a dog who is a smuggler’s runner, it is obvious the story is really about people –...more
PopcornReads
It has always seemed ironic to me that innocent, beautiful things like lace or tulips become so sought after that they are literally fought over by entire countries. So when I saw The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony, I knew I had to read it. Whether you’re a history buff or not, I suspect this novel will be a welcome change of pace from the novels that are usually featured this time of year. It’s a high-stakes adventure filled with danger, romance, and the ever-present misuse of power. Read the re...more
Kerstin
This is another of Casey's suggestions. I really liked this book. It was full of complicated moral dilemmas. Decisions had huge consequences that affected everyone in the wake. Each of the 7 characters had a sympathetic back story, even the antagonist. Favorite quotes come from a bit player, Denis, a failed baker's son turned failed soldier, who chooses to return to his home village after finally deciding to exchange his gun for a loaf of bread.

"Now I understood everything. The lieutenant had th...more
Rick F.
"Lace is a thing like hope.
It is beauty; it is grace.
It was never meant to destroy so many lives .

The mad passion for forbidden lace has infiltrated France,
pulling soldier and courtier alike into its web. For those who want the best, Flemish lace is the only choice, an exquisite perfection of thread and air. For those who want something they don’t have, Flemish lace can buy almost anything––or anyone."

I just finished this most superb of novels and I am simply amazed at how truly affecting it is....more
My Book Addiction and More MBA
MY THOUGHTS:
THE RUINS OF LACE by Iris Anthony is a complex and intriguing historical fiction set in 17th century France and Flanders. It is a complicated story of freedom,the fascination of lace,lace makers, the rise and fall of an empire,homosexuality in the 16-17th century in France, and cost to lace makers. “The Ruins of Lace” is a story written with vivid descriptions,detailing the intricate making of lace,the cost to the lace makers,and the lost of so much. It interweaves between the cast o...more
Valentina
A fascinating look into a part of history we don’t usually see represented in fiction, this book will captivate any lover of historical fiction.
The most exciting part of this book is the careful melding of multiple storylines. This is never an easy thing for an author to achieve and even less so when dealing with a period in time so far removed from our own. The author is very clever in handling the many plot lines, making them straight-forward enough so that they don’t knot with one another. I...more
Cynthia Mcarthur
When I first began this book, I thought to be reading a simple, possibly frilly book about the back-alley lace trade in late 1600's France and Flanders. Imagine my surprise when the story is told from the alternating, first-person points of view of seven different players, one of whom is so improbable, I just did not know how it could possibly flow.
But flow it did! From the almost blind, convent-bound lace-maker who will soon be turned out, to an evil gender-confused Count who believes contraban...more
Jan
Let me first say that I was really looking forward to this book. The whole historical aspect of smuggling lace was such a fascinating subject. And I had high hopes as I began because I love first person point of view and really enjoyed reading Katharina’s voice. What I didn’t realize is that there are seven different voices in this book changing with each chapter. It even includes the point of view told by a dog. The constant switching of characters was a bit confusing - I found myself always ha...more
Melodie
In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, lace was a most precious commodity in France. Frequently made in the abbeys of the Netherlands, the stuff was smuggled into France by the most ingenious and cruel means. Dogs used to smuggle lace were used and abused in the most despicable of ways. Corpses were frequently used to smuggle the lace as well.
The hands that created the lace belonged to children of poor families.Because the lace was s delicate and needed to be kept snow white, these childre...more
Lucy
Who would have known that in the 17th c. a sheer piece of lace-delicate and intricately woven was preciously coveted, priceless and forbidden by law and the French king himself? The Ruins of Lace is a novel based on all the sacrifice, crimes, smuggling, corruption and the unimaginably wild extent that people went to obtain even the smallest piece of this craft.

Written in the points of view of seven people whose lives enmeshed each others’ all in the pursuit of their quest for lace: Alexandre wo...more
Heather Book Savvy Babe
3.5 of 5 Stars

*I received this book for review at Book Savvy Babe Blog*

The Ruins of Lace is a turn from what I generally read (romance), but this book piqued my interest and I had to give it a try.

With a cast of divergent characters in various levels of social standing, all united by forbidden lace, Iris Anthony has weaved together an intricate and intelligent novel.

There is so much to The Ruins of Lace that makes it a unique novel. The story is told from multiple viewpoints and characters who s...more
Taffy
First line:

"It had been two months now."

Interesting book with eight different view points, including a smuggling dog.

Lace is illegal and worth more now than ever. Used as bribery, smuggled into France and made by nuns, Flemish lace is precious.

I really liked all the different points of view and how they came together in the end. I'm not sure I liked or understood the ending. But the journey was intriguing. I had a hard time putting the book (ereader) down.

The book starts with a nun who is a l...more
Melisende d'Outremer
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 fu...more
Autumn
My history was a little bit rusty. I had no idea that lace had been outlawed in France in the 1600s. The Ruins of Lace was a little bit of a history lesson for me. The one thing the book didn't really explain was WHY lace had been outlawed. A little bit of internet exploration gave me the answer. Bottom line, it had to do with only having nobility showing off their wealth and no one else. Google Sumtuary Laws for more explanations and other places where lace was outlawed, including the early Ame...more
Deborah
Sep 08, 2012 Deborah rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Phoebe
During the reign of King Louis XIII, lace was banned in France. The story of six people and one dog and the importance of lace in their lives during this time is told in alternating chapters beginning with Katharina. At 30 years of age Katharina is the best and oldest lacemaker in a convent. She is practically blind and sits hunched over. Her older sister wishes to buy her freedom but the head nun won't giver her up. When the nuns find out Katharina will be kicked out of the convent and fated to...more
Faith Justice
Finished while traveling. I enjoyed it, but more on the light side. The story is told by seven individuals (including a dog) in first person and weaves those narratives together like the threads of lace in complicated twists and turns. The author warns that the disparate stories come together in her forward or I might have given up after the first round of seven chapters. I liked the craft of the writing more than the story itself. (Would have given four stars for the writing and two for the sto...more
Donna
I loved the backstory and historical tidbits in this novel. The author’s promise of a story, “like a length of lace itself, …woven from many strands that are twisted and crossed, first overlapping, then intertwining,” left me expecting something extraordinary. I think the book had lots of promise, but fell short. Anthony delivered, in that she created a marvelously twisting tale, and skillfully tied the various threads together over the course of her story. But the ending disappointed me, and I...more
Rachel
So.Many. Narrators. Honestly, I usually quite like hearing the story from more than one first person narrator. But this one has so many narrators, I can't even be bothered to go back and count. And one of these narrators is a dog. Under some circumstances, that would be ok. However, this book doesn't really lend itself to whimsy. It's actually rather dark and depressing so the dog narrating issue just jars the reader. It's a distraction to the story line and really adds nothing you couldn't figu...more
Darlene Jones
The first thing I did when I finished this book was to go and have a closer look at the hand made lace my aunt brought me from Belgium. It's the trim on a cloth jewelry pouch and is impossibly fine. I can't imagine anyone having the patience to make it, let alone under the circumstances described in this book and I'm guessing the author is accurate in her depiction of the setting--and the cruelty.

This novel is also intriguing in the manner Anthony chose to relate the story. She uses multiple poi...more
Gene
This is an interesting book both in its content and presentation. Each chapter is written from the point of view of one of the characters. Even the dog has his say. The book was well written; however, the ending seemed unclear. Don't know if the author intended to be ambiguous or if I just missed something.

The book was satisfying because wrongs were righted and the good characters largely triumphed. Violence and depravity were core themes in the book, but they were presented tactfully and with m...more
Judy
Great story, especially if you want to learn about the ban on lace in the 1600's and the resulting black market. I enjoyed that the author told the story from the point of view of the various characters, with a short chapter from each point of view. She does a great job of painting her heroes and villains so the reader is on board cheering or sneering. I was disappointed in the ending. I felt it was too abrupt - almost as if the author wanted to finish and just wrapped it up to move on. It also...more
Kathleen E.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony, © 2012
historical fiction ~ 1636
During the reign of Louis XIII, called The Just

I will never quite look at Queen Anne's Lace the same after reading The Ruins of Lace.

Katharina, lace maker. Working in a dark, unheated workshop day after day, is losing her sight and her back is curved from bending over her pillow for hours at a time making lace, with the rhythm of her bobbins. In silence, without spoken words.
~*~
Needle pin, needle pin
Stitch...more
Romancing the Book
Reviewed by JoAnne
Book provided by NetGalley for review
Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

I have mixed feelings about this book. It’s a historical novel set in the 1600′s in France with the entire premise of the book about the smuggling of lace because the wearing of lace was banned by the French King.

The book had many characters and points of view. We were given each person’s background and story as they were introduced. Each story was told in first person by the character whose stor...more
Stephanie
Intriguing story with 7 interlocking characters. You have the story of how the lace is made and how two sisters are split up in childhood one sent to nunnery and the other living at home with their father after the death of their mother. Katrinia was taught to make lace and has worked at making lace until now she can barely see and is bent like a old woman at 30. Alexander whose father had leprosy and once he was dead, his uncle come and took him the live with his family. Lisette his uncles daug...more
Melanie
While I learned a lot about lace and lace-makers, I had a hard time with this book - partly because the multiple narrators did not seem to be well-differentiated, and partly because one of the narrators was a hideously-abused dog. Had I not read that the author wrote the book after learning about the abuses of animals in smuggling, I might not have persevered -- it's a good story, and it's a well-researched book, but I can't say I really enjoyed reading it.
Proud Book Nerd
Prior to coming across this novel, I never had any idea that lace was once contraband anywhere – let alone in France! And the things people would do to get it - wow. This book is very interesting, riveting, and hard to put down. The different threads of this story are intricately woven together, much like the subject of this story, the high-quality lace.

Full review: http://proudbooknerd.com/2012/10/05/r...
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