In “The Hidden Thread” by Liz Trenow, Anna Butterfield is traveling from Suffolk to her aunt and uncle’s home in London. Her mother is dead following a long illness, and Anna has cared for her and for her father and sister, Jane during this time. In order to be able to provide for her family it is necessary for her to marry well. To this end, she is sent to her aunt and uncle’s home in London. Her uncle is a very successful silk merchant and it is hoped that Anna will be presented to society and thus find a desirable husband.
These are turbulent times in London in 1760. Silk is being smuggled into England at a reduced price and the weavers and cloth makers are losing their jobs because the price of goods has dwindled to the point that people are starving. Smuggled goods bring in no taxes, so the merchants are getting richer while the poor workers are destitute.
On her way to her new home, Anna is aided by two young Frenchmen, whom she later finds to be weavers of fine cloth. This class of society is beneath her, or so her aunt warns. She is forbidden to have any contact with them. Instead, she is paraded in front of a friends’ son, a pompous dandy. The novel continues as we discover how Anna uses her talents to design cloth and is in partnership, secretly, with one of the French weavers to produce silk cloth. After the silk riots threaten her family’s security, she must decide if she wants to be a proper lady in society or pursue her dreams.
You can always count on Ms. Trenow to write an engaging story. Her family had been silk weavers in Suffolk for three hundred years, which inspired this story set during the 18th century.
I was sent a complimentary Kindle copy by NetGalley.com.