Hello. My name is Joy and I am a historical fiction addict. You too? Then stick around!
The Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix is split between 1704 and 2017. In 1704, we meet Anastacia, a young girl desperate to escape her controlling and violent father but who instead finds herself in similar circumstances after she is forced to marry a Venetian silk weaver. Millie lives in 2017 and following the end of an affair with her boss Max, finds herself covering a feature story in Italy. Millie falls in love with Lorenzo, owner of the villa where she is staying. It is when Millie feels propelled to discover the identity of the woman in a portrait hanging at the villa, past suddenly meets present.
I really like when the past meets the present in a book. It almost feels like I am getting two for the price of one story wise and I enjoy immersing myself in different eras. I always wonder at the beginning of the book how well the author will link the different periods. In terms of showing both Italy and the silk weaving trade past and present, Rix wrote this book seamlessly. However, I felt that the connection between Millie and Anastacia was lacking. There wasn’t really a moment where I thought, “wow, that is where it comes together!”. I believe there was for the characters but not for me as a reader.
However, I enjoyed the connection between Anastacia and Millie in regards to their own personal lives, separate from anything to do with the storyline. It was wonderful to read how both women grew as people and overcame the despair and hardships of their individual lives – no matter how different that despair and hardship was. I guess it was a somewhat comforting reminder that no matter where we are in the world or even what century we live/lived in, there will always be commonalities. We are never alone; there is always somebody out there who has gone through the same or similar meaning, for me, there is always someone out there we can reach out to for help.
Besides great character development, Rix shows in The Silk Weaver’s Wife that she is also skilled in setting a scene. Italy really came alive with each page of this book. With Millie’s story, I could vividly imagine myself jetting off to Lorenzo’s villa to enjoy good food, company and amazing scenery. However, and unusual for me, it was actually Anastacia’s Italy I enjoyed more. I mostly find myself drawn to the more modern part of a book like this but Rix injected magic that had me longing more to discover 18th-century Venice than anything 2017 could offer.
Finally, something I’ve said numerous times: I really love a book that can teach me something factual, whether it be about a person, a place, a thing or anything else. Through The Silk Weaver’s Wife, I learned about the silk weaving industry, a topic I never thought would interest me. One just has to admire the amount of research that goes into researching a topic for a story. Often, these may be topics which the author themselves knew very little about beforehand. It must be a big bonus to the author if the reader not only becomes interested in the story as a whole, but also the topic which created the foundation. Nix certainly had me intrigued by silk weaving.
Overall, this was a charming story of past meeting present. I certainly recommend it to fans of historical fiction – even more so if Italy is one of your favourite countries (like me!). Now I’m off to see what else Debbie Rix has to offer!
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.