The Silk Factory, by Judith Allnatt

Publisher: The Borough Press  |  Publication date: 21st May 2015  |  Edition: Hardback (review copy)

The Silk Factory by Judith Allnatt

“Anyone who’s ever lost someone is haunted”. Two seamless timelines. One beautifully told story.

Brooding and atmospheric , The Silk Factory embraces two life stories set in dual periods of history. With the gentlest of touches, Judith Allnatt has spun her gorgeous threads with care, so they interweave seamlessly.

The divine prose, magnificent scene setting, and energy of the individual personalities that appear throughout, have truly brought this story to life.

Here’s an example of some of those wonderful words:

In the unheated workshop, the workers’ breath misted the rows of windows, as if their spirits were drawn out of them and pressed ghostly against the glass.

So, so perfect.  Anyway, a little about the story:

In the present day we arrive in the parish of Weedon Bec, at the door of a property inherited by Rosie. She’s had her fair share of trials recently; her mother has passed away, she’s not long separated from her husband, plus she has financial burdens to contend with.

Whilst coping with her two young children and the emotional upheaval of their new circumstances, her awkward ex-husband and his new partner, and an elderly Aunt residing in a care home, Rosie still finds herself very much alone. She’s spinning so many plates that most are crashing to the ground.

With all this stress, Rosie begins to believe her mind is playing cruel tricks. Shortly after moving in she experiences some subtly placed, yet disturbing phenomena. She attributes this to anxiety as a result of the bereavement and her current status, and desperately tries to ignore her ‘uninvited house guest’.

Soon she discovers a something that her family had previously laid to rest, something that would draw her back to a traumatic period in her own childhood. But piecing together the fragments of a mystery when your only living relative is stricken with dementia will not be an easy task for this young mum.

Nestling in between Rosie’s story, the location remains, but we take a step back to a time to the 1800’s where another young family are struggling to cope with the harshest of lives and making ends meet. The cruelty and the blatant spite and greed of their employer, the silk factory owner, are depicted to perfection, until the young family of Effie, Tobias and Beulah would never be the same again.

At the root of both timelines is ordinary life – warts and all: tragedy, endurance, and love, in all its many guises. Although it’s apparent that their paths will never cross directly, they are touched by the unravelling threads of The Silk Factory.

This is a story that should be savoured, not devoured. It’s one I felt quite at peace with when I closed the cover. Very nicely done.

Rating: 4/5

(My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending this beautiful hardback copy for review. It really is difficult to capture that fine detail on the cover – all credit to the designer for this one @fictionpubteam)


You can follow the author on Twitter: @JudithAllnatt  |  Publisher: @BoroughPress

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