This was the third book I read in close sucession of the War of the Roses time period in medieval England. The other two were The White Queen by Philippa Gregory and The King's Grace by Ann Easter Smith (see previous review). Reading all three provided an interesting perspective on Edward V, Richard III, Queen Elizabeth Woodward and the future Queen Elizabeth, mother of Henry the VIII. Each book presented the main characters as villians or heros while sticking to the historical facts surrounding the War of the Roses. My favorite by far was Figures in Silk because although these historical characters were front and center, the book focused on the merchants of London—especially the female silk workers, who often were declared freewomen in their own rights and were allowed to make deals, take out loans, and hire their own workers. Loosely based on real characters, the plot focused on a scheme to bring silk weaving to London, as well as the craft of silk embroidery.It brought 15th-century London alive in a way that a novel focusing soley on the nobility cannot and showcased the strength that these women had to petition for their livelihoods and work to better their lives. A good read if you are interested in learning more about this time period, or in the lives and trials of women trying to make their way in the world. With characters such as the formidable Queen Elizabeth, her cowed but crafty daughter, one of the King's mistresses and silk women ranging from apprentices, to rich merchants, you get an in depth look at how the mideival world viewed women and how they survived in a male-dominated society. The best part, however, is the discussion of the silk. You will fall in love with it, just as the main characters do.
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