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Blackberry and Wild Rose

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  78 reviews
WHEN Esther Thorel, the wife of a Huguenot silk-weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel she thinks she is doing God’s will. Sara is not convinced being a maid is better than being a whore, but the chance to escape her grasping ‘madam’ is too good to refuse.

Inside the Thorels’ tall house in Spitalfields, where the strange cadence of the looms fills the attic, the two women
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published January 10th 2019 by Quercus
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Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sonia Velton writes beautifully sumptuous and atmospheric historical fiction set in the late eighteenth century amidst the Huguenot silk weavers of London's East End that reminded me strongly of Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist. It begins in Spitalfield in 1768, and the naive, unlucky Sarah Kemp has been tricked into working in a brothel. The wife of a Huguenot silk weaver, Esther Thorel, rescues the desperate Sarah from being a whore by offering her employment as her maid, an act of Christian ch ...more
Umut Reviews
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I love historical fiction, and I enjoyed this book. It has a gorgeous cover reflecting the Silk weaving times back in times, in London. I think the author did a good research.
I liked to read about the silk weavers, the tension between masters and the journeyman. I found it original and was curious to learn about these.
The household part where we had 2 women narrating the story was a bit predictable. Romances, revenge, love, etc. The combination of these 2 aspects made the story an easy, entert
Evie Braithwaite
Historical fiction wins my heart once again. The cover art for this alone was enough to make me fall head over heels in love with this book.

Blackberry and Wild Rose is an atmospheric novel set in Spitalfields, a parish in London in the late 18th century. Now I love a historical fiction novel. But, tell me it’s historical fiction novel set in England? You’ve instantly piqued my interest. This is an area filled with the homes of respectable merchants and Huguenot weavers. Neighbouring them, howev
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Blackberry and Wild Rose, Sonia Velton's historical fiction debut, is based around the silk workers in 1860s Spitalfields, London. From the alternating perspectives of Sara and Esther it illustrates the hardship and destitution present at that time. It also explores many more important but overlooked issues of the time such as the conflict between journeyman weavers and master weavers and the fact that women are forbidden to work in certain professions. This is a beautifully written, atmospheric ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
Thank you Netgalley and Quercus Books for the ARC.

"You are but a woman."

But hell has no fury like a woman scorned!
Meet Esther, wife of London master silkweaver Elias, a firm Huguenot. The year is 1768 and Esther is a good christian and dedicated wife. When accidentally seeing Sara being boxed by her madam, she decides to offer the desperate girl a position as lady's maid in her household.
Meanwhile husband Elias takes on an apprentice journeyman who uses the looms in their attic to weave his mas
Rachel Hall
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Set against the backdrop of the silk weaving rebellions in 1760s Spitalfields, Sonia Velton’s debut historical fiction novel brings to life the story of two woman from very different backgrounds in one household and captures the fraught relationship between them which threatens to be both of their undoing. When genteel Huguenot wife, Esther Thorel, catches sight of ill-dressed Sara Kemp being berated by deceitful ‘madam’, Mrs Swann, it is 1768 and she can only guess at the unfortunate circumstan ...more
Roman Clodia
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
What really made this book for me is the history of the silk weavers of East London and the industrial unrest between the master weavers and journeyman. The story in the foreground is easily predictable, a standard tale of rivalry and tentative empathy between a mistress and her personal maid, of a loveless marriage and doomed romance.

Velton writes well but technically the voices of the two women of different social strata shouldn't sound the same as they do here: the craft isn't here to differ
Tricked into prostitution as an innocent newcomer to London, Sara’s rescue by Esther from the clutches of the awful Mrs. Swann offers her the possibility of gaining control over her life. However, Sara soon finds that is seems she may have swapped one form of dependence for another, constantly at the back and call of her new mistress. Furthermore, the possibility that the shameful details of her previous life may be revealed is a constant fear, particularly since not everyone in the Thorel house ...more
Lucy Banks
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A twisty-turny tale of female relationships, male dominance and deception, centred around the Huguenots.

I really enjoyed this book! I generally enjoy well-researched historical fiction anyway, but this one had the pleasant additional extra of being extremely well-plotted and clever.

Sara arrives in London and gets snared by a notorious Madam, who forces her to work as a whore. By chance, Esther, the wife of a Huguenot
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Blackberry and Wild Rose draws you in from the very first chapter, because the story starts right away. You meet one of the narrators, Sara, and she finds herself in quite an unfortunate, yet interesting to read about, predicament. You’ll find, very early on when you start reading this one, that you’ll fly through its pages; this is due to the fact that Velton, through her rich descriptions, has placed you in the heart of Spitalfields in the late 18thcentury. You become so immersed in the settin ...more
Dora  (Swift Coffee Book Blog)
Full review (available from 9th Jan, 2019):

Have you ever simply loved a book BECAUSE you basically hated all the characters?

I know it sounds wrong. I should maybe say 'disliked' instead of 'hated'. Some I disliked strongly, some I even liked at times - but no character in this book was the kind of people I like.

And that's exactly what I loved about them!

Because they were... human. And humans act like they did. We are flawed, fallible, infuriating at times
Blackberry and Wild Rose

Visit the locations in the novel

In BlackBerry and Wild Rose, Sonia Velton has written a gorgeous novel as smooth as the silks in the Spitalfields market she writes about. A plot as interweaving as the threads in the garments.

The novel is set deep in the heart of the Huguenot silk weavers of London’s East End. This was a evocative and interesting period of history and that comes across in leaps and bounds. A silk weaver’s wife rescues Sarah, the main character, from a life of working in a brothel
OMG I LOVED this book. Review to follow soon .... OK I couldn't wait any longer to shout about it - get it on your wishlist NOW.

Read my review in full on my blog

Anyone who knows me, even the tiniest bit, will know, as surely as I did the minute I saw the cover of this book, that it is exactly the kind of book I fall head over heels in love with.

And I did. For several reasons.

(1) I swooned when I saw the absolutely gorgeous cover art. I am loving the curre
“Esther’s character is loosely inspired by Anna Maria Garthwaite, the foremost designer of Spitalfields silks during the mid-eighteenth century. She is credited with bringing the artistry of painting to the loom, although her success predated the industrial troubles of the Spitalfields silk industry by some years. Many of her patterns and silks have survived and can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum (London).

The eighteenth century Spitalfields silk weavers were a militant bunch and forme
Iryna *Book and Sword*
Jan 12, 2019 marked it as to-read
Am I here because of the beautiful cover?
YEs, yes I am.


Debi Hawkes
18th century London, abandonment, a loveless marriage, a naive barren wife, a cheating husband, a dashing rogue, an honest man, masters and servants, a fallen woman, an evil madame, an unwed pregnany. I do believe we've covered all the bases in this romantic, quasi historical novel.

I loved learning about weaving silk and designing the patterns.

I enjoyed my time spent with these characters, the book is nicely written. A perfect choice for when you need a break from your heavier reading.

I receiv
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The story sets in Spitalfields London in the late- eighteenth century. It centers around the silk weaving industry where the merchants, the masters, the journeymen, the rich and the poor all come together in making the finest silks; at the same time throughout the story we also get to witness the tensions and conflicts intensified due to the differences in social classes. Blackberry & Wild Rose is told from the perspectives of two women: Sara, a young girl who has unfortunately been tricked ...more
Joy Matteson
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stayed up late with this one. If you love period detail historical fiction--this is for you!
Karen Mace
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The trials and tribulations of 2 very different women in 18th century London are bought to life in this stunning historical fiction debut.

Sara and Esther and brought together by circumstance. Esther is the wife of Elias, one of the finest silk weavers in Spitalfields, and their work in the community and church is well known and admired. Sara has a much different background, sent off to London by her mother and ends up being tricked into a world of prostitution, and when Esther rescues Sara after
Clair Sharpe
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set in Spitalfields London in 1768, Sara Kemp arrives in London from her country home to work in a house but is soon enticed by a madam to enter the world of prostitution. Ester Thoral, a wife of a Huguenot silk weaver rescues Sara from the brothel, thinking she is doing God's will. Sara is not convinced being a ladies maid is better than being a whore, but the chance to escape her "madam" is too good to refuse.
Ester's husband is a master weaver of silk and offers a journeyman weaver, Bisby Lamb
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The world of the silk weavers in London’s famous East End is the setting for Blackberry and Wild Rose. Esther Thorel’s and Sara Kemp’s lives collide when Esther rescues Sara from life in a brothel to work as her lady’s maid. Esther is married to master silk weaver, Elias, a stern Huguenot. The story goes back and forth between Sara and Esther, and also tells about silk weaving and of the unrest between the master weavers and the journeymen at that time in the silk industry.

This was a pleasant re
Anna Tan
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Spitalfields riots, Blackberry and Wild Rose tells the stories of an unhappy Huguenot wife, trying to both support her husband and live her dreams, and her English maid, trying to make something of herself.

It's a study in contrasts; rich against poor, churched against the unchurched, pious wife against former prostitute, noble worker against discontent firebrand, masters against journeymen. The two main female protagonists speak in their own voices, te
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, it amazed me that this is a debut novel. Incredibly intimate and lush without being erotica, you see the complicated relationship between the two women unfold. I love the effortlessly intertwined viewpoints - sometimes it was difficult to tell where one woman's view ended and the other's picked up. Excellent book.

*I would like to thank the author/publisher/Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review*
Shaz Goodwin
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved the history, the conflict and hope. Hauntingly beautiful.

Review coming soon.
Leonie Byrne
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Review to follow closer to publication date
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so interesting. I haven't read about the silk trade industry ever before in all my historical reading.
Nicky Moxey
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was part of the book bag giveaway at the Historical Novel Society convention this year.
Set in the late 1700s, this tale of god-fearing Huguenot weavers and their households split apart by love, lust, and the desire for the most beautiful silks is a page-turner from start to finish.
Beautfully described and with believable characters, this is an excellent debut novel - I would be prepared to pay for any sequel :)
The Book Babe
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was granted early access for an honest and unbiased review of Author, Sonia Velton’s, Blackberry & Wild Rose. Let’s dig in!

The book is set in the 18th century - London, during the reign of King George the III. I enjoy reading historical fiction, so I was intrigued when this book came up for review. I really like the cover design and color choice. This book isn't available until May 7, 2019, but if I were you...I would pre-order it. It's going to be HOT! Get it here...
Mary Picken
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have really enjoyed reading historical novels of late and Blackberry and Wild Rose is no exception. In the tradition of Laura Purcell and Jessie Burton, Blackberry and Wild Rose is a rich read, full of atmosphere, redolent with class politics and full of the small details and petty slights that make for a strong feeling of realism.

The narrative is set around the Huguenot silk weavers many of whom settled in London’s East End following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, when 400,000
Beth (bibliobeth)
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
First of all, a huge thank you to Ella Patel for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Quercus Books for providing a complimentary copy of the novel on a recent Word-Of-Mouth Bestsellers Evening/bloggers event which showcased some of the books they were excited about for 2019. I was lucky enough to meet the author herself and her editor at the event and they made Blackberry and Wild Rose come alive in my imagination before I had the good fortune to read it leaving me in no doubt at a ...more
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Sonia Velton has been a solicitor in Hong Kong, a Robert Schuman Scholar in Luxembourg and spent eight years being a full-time Mum of three in Dubai. She now lives in Kent. Her first novel, BLACKBERRY AND WILD ROSE, tells the story of a fictional household of master silk weavers living in eighteenth century Spitalfields. The protagonist is loosely inspired by Anna Maria Garthwaite who was the fore ...more