In England right before the start of the First World War a young teen-age girl, Maria, who from the age of two lived in an orphanage where she learned to be an excellent seamstress, was summoned to Buckingham Palace to be a part of the staff. While there her choices and behavior dictated the rest of her life. In “The Forgotten Seamstress”, Liz Trenow writes a fictitious account of the seduction of a naïve young girl who is dazzled by the attentions of the young Prince Edward, heir to the throne of England. Her skill with a needle brings her to the rooms of the Prince to alter a garment for him. He initiates meetings with her and soon they become lovers. When the Prince is called to war, mind you, only behind the lines and in no danger, he promises that he will return and will continue to write. After a while, there are no letters and no further contact between them. However Maria is left with a lasting remembrance of the Prince and their affair. A few months after the Prince has gone to “war”, Maria is swept away by one of the palace’s staff to an insane asylum where she and her “fantasies” about her relationship with the royal son are dismissed as those of a lunatic. The story comes to light as we follow a young woman who inherits a beautifully made quilt and tries to find the story behind the creation. Even though this story is fiction, as I read, I could imagine exactly this scenario happening in real life, especially during the beginning of the twentieth century.
I did enjoy this novel, but I must say that it took a few chapters before I fully understood what was going on. The book skipped back and forth from 1918 to present day and following the story was at times difficult. This story was written so well that after I was finished reading I was almost convinced that this story was true. Ms. Trenow has a knack of bringing history to life and intertwining her love of fabric and its history with the characters.
I was received complimentary Kindle copy of this novel by NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.