Published by: Sourcebooks
Published on: October 2, 2012
Page Count: 336
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher for consideration.
Available Formats: Hardcover and eBook
Special Note: Come back on October 19th for a special guest post from Iris Anthony and an opportunity to win a copy of The Ruins of Lace for yourself.
When the King declares a precious commodity illegal, that commodity becomes invaluable. Men of means will go to great lengths to possess it, creating opportunities for unscrupulous people to test their ingenuity and the elasticity of their conscience in the pursuit of ill gotten profits. During Louis XIII’s reign, this commodity was lace. People became so desperate for it, that it was valued above life. Whoa be it to anyone, man, woman, or child, who gets between a man and his forbidden lace.
On all sides of the illegal lace trade there are those at the mercy of those with power. Each of them grabbed me with their stories. I had to keep reading because I feared for their safety. I would have jumped into the pages myself if I could. Katharina Martens was a slave to the Church, creating exquisite lace under the worst imaginable conditions. While she worries what would happen to her when her eyesight failed her completely, her sister knows the miserable fate that awaits her as she fights to earn the money needed to free her sister. How could I not have kept reading? Equally engaging was Lisette’s story. She was fortunate to be born to a land owner with means, but she has lost her mother. She is just a young girl when the Count of Montreau comes to stay with them. She discovers lace while snooping in his truck and accidentally ruins it. The Count turns the screws on Lisette’s father, ruining his fortune. Her father never blamed her for what happened, but she cannot escape her guilt. As she matures, she becomes more determined to clear her father from the debt.
Humans were not the only ones who were harmed in the hungry drive to procure lace. Through the narration of a poor, unfortunate dog, we learn about the inhumane ways in which lace traders get lace across the border. I admit to being hesitant when I realized that a dog would narrate his own story, but it did not take me long to warm up to this poor creature. Before I was even aware of it, I cared as much for his safety as I did Katharina and Lisette’s. The dog’s story was heartbreaking and paired well with that of Denis, the border guard. He is charged with catching the criminals trying smuggle lace into France, but he can’t seem to find any. His career and his pride are at stake, but he is innocent in this game and cannot grasp the greed and intensity that compels people to act as they do. I felt for Denis. Who wants to be forced to think like people who would do what was done to the dog?
The Ruins of Lace has been my favorite historical fiction title this year. The subject matter was new to me and Iris Anthony’s approach to telling this story was compelling. It was my great good luck to start this novel at the beginning of an 8-hour train ride. I had nothing to do but read. As a reader I appreciated having characters I truly cared about as well as excellent, complex villains. I devoured this book, finishing it with satisfaction. A book is a true gift when it entertains and prompts the reader to learn more about the subject matter. The Ruins of Lace was definitely that kind of gift, making me so very happy to be a lover of historical fiction.