Book Reviews

Review: The Ruins of Lace

LaceTitle: The Ruins of Lace
Author: Iris Anthony
Genre: Adult – Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2012
Age Recommendation: Adult

The mad passion for forbidden lace has infiltrated France,
pulling soldier and courtier alike into its web. For those who want the best, Flemish lace is the only choice, an exquisite perfection of thread and air. For those who want something they don’t have, Flemish lace can buy almost anything––or anyone.

For Lisette, lace begins her downfall, and the only way to atone for her sins is to outwit the noble who now demands the impossible. To fail means certain destruction. But for Katharina, lace is her salvation. It is who she is; it is what she does. If she cannot make this stunning tempest of threads, a dreaded fate awaits.

The most lucrative contraband in Europe, with its intricate patterns and ephemeral hope, threatens to cost them everything. Lace may be the deliverance for which they all pray…or it may bring the ruin and imprisonment they all fear.

(Summary from Goodreads)

I had mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, the characters and setting were developed really well, and were just as interesting as the premise. On the other hand, things got really weird toward the end, which was already rushed to begin with – enough that it overshadowed all of the good things about the book.

The Ruins of Lace is set during the reign of Louis XIII of France, during a time when he’d outlawed lace, resulting in a lot of lace smuggling from Flanders. Anthony portrayed this in a really interesting way, using several POV characters to show all of the different stops along the way, from the lace maker to the smuggler to the people who were smuggling the lace and the reasons they had for doing so. At first I had my doubts – I mean, one of the characters was a dog – but Anthony ultimately did a great job distinguishing each character’s voice, something that is challenging when there are as many POVs as there are in this book. By the time the book ended, I really felt like I’d traveled Flanders and France with the lace.

The characters leaped off the page, and not just because of their voices. They each had their own conflicts and challenges to overcome, and sharing the page with so many other characters didn’t diminish this at all. For example, Katharina’s pain when she realizes how the nuns have betrayed her felt incredibly real. And while I didn’t like the Count of Montreau at all, I was still able to understand where he was coming from by the end. There were some things that could’ve been developed a little more – such as Lisette’s attachment to the child she ultimately tries to protect – but the characters were definitely one of the book’s strengths.

My major problem came with the end. It happened super quickly, with no real resolution, and there were a lot of things that happened that seemed to come out of nowhere. It almost felt like Anthony didn’t know how to end it. The book wasn’t that long, so there was room for it to be developed a lot more than it was.

The Ruins of Lace was an interesting look at a time in French history I don’t know a lot about. I would recommend this if you’re looking for something a little different to read.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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