The Silk Weaver is Liz Trenow's fourth novel and it draws on her family's history in the silk trade. Set in a time of scientific discovery and social upheaval the novel features a heroine with a passion for art and nature. The daughter of a country vicar Anna has had a peaceful, quiet life in Suffolk but as the book opens she is bound for London to begin a new life with her aunt, uncle and cousins; a family of London silk merchants. Anna knows that the purpose of her coming to London is so that she can make a successful marriage to support her aging father and younger sister. However it is the young French silk weaver she meets on her first day in London that interests Anna. Soon Anna is thrust into a world of beautiful dresses and strict social rules but it is a world which is rapidly changing as workers riot and protest and fashions and fortunes change. However Anna also discovers that in this changing world she can make her own way using her artistic talent, with her friend Charlotte as an inspiration and a guide. Liz Trenow's novel is a wonderful window into the past full of detail, passion and great storytelling. Inspired by real people such as the silk designer Anna Maria Garthwaite and real events such as the successive waves of French Hugenot immigrants arriving in London and the 'cutters riots' of the 1760s. This is a book not to be missed particularly for fans of Daisy Goodwin, Debra Daley, Laurie Graham, Lucinda Riley and Kate Riordan.
I asked Liz to share some details about her inspiration and research. This is what she told me
"When I was researching the history of my family’s silk weaving business, which started in Spitalfields, East London, in the early 1700s (and is still weaving today in Sudbury, Suffolk) I discovered that the first address was in Wilkes Street. Just a few yards away is the house where the eminent silk designer Anna Maria Garthwaite lived at around the same time. It was so exciting to imagine that she would have known and worked with my ancestors.
Anna Maria was one of the most celebrated textile designers of the eighteenth century, her silks were worn by royalty and nearly a thousand of her designs are in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Yet no-one knows how she learned her craft or how an unmarried middle-aged woman managed to develop such a successful business in a male dominated industry. It is this mystery that sparked the idea for the novel."
Find out more about Liz and her books at her website https://liztrenow.com/
The Silk Weaver is published on January 26th by Pan Macmillan priced £7.99 and the blog tour continues until January 29th. See Details below. Thanks so much to Alice Dewing at Pan Macmillan for a copy of the book.