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Blackberry and Wild Rose

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  176 ratings  ·  100 reviews
Set in eighteenth-century Spitalfields, London, Blackberry and Wild Rose is the rich and atmospheric tale of a household of Huguenot silk weavers as the pursuit of the perfect silk design leads them all into ambition, love, and betrayal.

When Esther Thorel, wife of a master silk weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel, she thinks she is doing God's will, but her good deed
Hardcover, 300 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2019 by Blackstone Publishing
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  176 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Amalia Gavea
‘’But there are no secrets in London. Even the houses lean across the narrow alleys towards each other and offer up their scandals in the blink of an open curtain.’’

A woman is trying to break the norms of an oppressive society whose chances are reserved exclusively for men. In an era when silk is considered equal to gold, Esther struggles to convince her husband of her talent as a pattern designer. Her kind nature leads her to Sara, a young woman trapped in a brothel, and to a complex network
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel's setting was the main reason I decided to read it: London, 1768, the world of the Huguenot silk-weavers. This is a solid HF, with a good story behind, and my only complaint is that I expected even more historical information on the diaspora even though the Author did her job well and while reading you receive substantial insight into the world of this particular Diaspora in the 18th century London. recommended to all HF fans.
Umut Reviews
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
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
I love historical fiction and was very much looking forward to starting this. The context of the silk weavers of London and the competition with French and Belgian silk; the banning of Indian calico cotton; the London setting- these were very interesting details to me. However it felt like nothing really happened (not true but that's how it felt!) and there were no sympathetic characters. Not a bad read. Just not a great one.
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
Rachel Hall
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Roman Clodia
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
Lucy Banks
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who has recently rediscovered her love for historical fiction, I’ve truly been spoilt lately. Sure, a nice gruesome murder or a bunch psychological games is fun to read about but there is something about being transported to ages long ago that totally captures my imagination.

Upon arriving in Spitalfields, Sara Kemp immediately lands herself in a whole heap of trouble. She is rescued by Esther Thorel, the wife of a prominent silk weaver, who offers Sara the position of being her maid.
La La - Everyone's Crazy Aunt
This book didn't even make it to my currently-reading shelf because I couldn't put it down! I basically read it right through with one sleep in the middle. I really wanted to give this five stars and 4.5 on the blog, but... the scene that starts the events of the story in motion was almost unbelievable; one of the main characters is sent to a city with the name of a family member and address to go to, and she loses the paper it is written on and cannot remember any of it. Not even the woman's na ...more
“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
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
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
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blackberry and Wild Rose, Sonia Velton's debut, is set in the late eighteenth century among the exiled French Huguenot community of silk weavers in the Spitalfields district of London. The story is told by two female first-person narrators: Esther, the wife of master weaver Elias, who feels isolated in the community because she was not born into it, and her maidservant Sara, 'rescued' by Esther from prostitution and becoming increasingly embroiled in the affairs of the household. This novel join ...more
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
Debi Hawkes
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Iryna *Book and Sword*
Am I here because of the beautiful cover?
YEs, yes I am.


Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Val Robson
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Blackberry and Wild Rose is a terrific debut novel from Sonia Velton. It follows the lives of Sarah Kemp and Esther Thorel in mid eighteenth century London. The story is told in the alternating voices of Esther and Sara. Esther is married to Elias, a powerful master silk-weaver. They live amongst the Huguenot community near Spitalsfields market. Sarah has just arrived in London from the country having been sent away by her mother for reasons unknown to Sarah. She has the address of an relative i ...more
Very well done historical fiction. The author did a great job setting the reader in the time period with details of daily life, food and fashion. The time period of 18th century England was interesting as were the facts surrounding the silk industry and trade. The author also does a great job of entrenching the reading into what life was like for women during that time period and interestingly shows three very different classes of women who all really have the same freedoms and choices - which a ...more
Joy Matteson
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stayed up late with this one. If you love period detail historical fiction--this is for you!
My thanks to Quercus Books for an eARC via NetGalley of this debut novel by Sonia Velton.

It is set in the 1760s among the silk weavers of Spitalfields. Sara Kemp is tricked into prostitution shortly after her arrival in London. She is rescued from the brothel by Esther Thorel, wife of a Huguenot silk weaver. Sara becomes Esther’s maid and an uneasy relationship develops between the women.

Sara and Esther serve as alternating narrators giving insight into their lives. Central to the story is Esthe
Karen Mace
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
actual rating: 3.5 stars

Blackberry and Wild Rose is an atmospheric novel that brings forth a time in history that I was quite unfamiliar with. A duel-narrative novel, it follow the lives of Sara Kemp and Esther Thorel as they become intertwined, and they strike up an unlikely and fraught friendship.

Where her style of writing is concerned, Velton is a phenomenal author; she delivers a sumptuous and rich tale that immerses the reader into the world which she has weaved. However, Blackberry and Wil
Clair Sharpe
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
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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