Have you ever read a book and loved it so much that you wished you’d written it? As I start to think about writing, with all that lovely time I’m going to have available after my early retirement, I sometimes daydream about the novel I might write. If ever I get round to actually doing it rather than thinking about it – well, if I can achieve something just half as good as Liz Trenow’s The Forgotten Seamstress, I’ll have achieved my dream.
This book had everything that I love in a book. I was totally entranced by the story of Maria Romano – her friendship with Nora, her time at the orphanage, her life at Buckingham Palace, the heartbreaking experience that led to her being in the asylum at Helena Hall, and her making of the quilt. I loved the way her story was told through the audio-taped interviews, a device that really worked – she was a real character, and her story really came to life by being told in her own words. The quilt was almost a character in its own right, with all the stories, memories and secrets it held. And in the modern story, I agonised along with Caroline as she attempted to recover it after its loss. And this was one of the real strengths of the book for me – I found the modern story just as interesting as the historical one that was unfolding, with Caroline trying to make her mark as a furniture designer while struggling with her mother’s dementia and her developing new relationship. The threads of the two stories came together effortlessly and quite perfectly at the end, and I put the book down at the end with a satisfied sigh, having thoroughly enjoyed every single page.
I’m gushing a bit, aren’t I? But I really loved this book, and would recommend it to just about anyone who likes the same books that I do. The author’s first book, The Last Telegram, has been sitting unread on my Kindle for ages – it won’t be unread for much longer. Liz Trenow is an author I’ll most definitely be adding to my favourites list.
Liz Trenow is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. The Forgotten Seamstress is her second novel. She lives in East Anglia, UK, with her artist husband, and they have two grown up daughters.
Liz’s family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions. It was when she was researching the history of this company that she came across the unique royal silks that inspired the fictional patchwork quilt at the heart of The Forgotten Seamstress.
Her third novel The Poppy Factory, will be released later in 2014 by HarperCollins (I can’t wait!). Liz has an excellent website and can also be followed on Twitter.
The Forgotten Seamstress is published by Avon, and is already available for Kindle (at the bargain price of 99p at the time of writing). The paperback will follow on 16th January.