FIGURES IN SILK

Figures In Silk - Vanora Bennett Vanora Bennett's novel, "Figures in Silk," intermingles historic and fictional persons in an entertaining narrative concerning Yorkist England.Her main character, Isabel Lambert, is a 14-year-old girl when she meets a man who turns out to be Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Isabel is about to be married to Thomas Claver -- who dies one month after their wedding, but she never forgets the dark-haired and serious man who spoke to her. Isabel decides to enter the silk trade as an apprentice to her mother-in-law, and she eventually becomes a wealthy woman in her own right.Her sister Jane, meanwhile, marries a fellow named William Shore. Jane Shore was one of Edward IV's many mistresses and has a very easy life of it at court. It is while visiting Jane that Isabel again meets Richard, and she becomes his mistress.The primary action of the novel takes place during what Tudor historians refer to as the usurpation, in which Richard III comes to the throne. Isabel is standing up against the Lombard silk monopoly in London when she is inadvertently drawn into the Woodville family's plot to discredit Richard and place Henry Tudor on the throne. It is Isabel who, because of misinformation provided her by Princess Elizabeth, begins the rumor in London that Richard had poisoned his wife, Queen Anne Neville ... and by the time Isabel finds out the truth, Richard has already died at Bosworth Field.As a steadfast Ricardian, I found this perspective on historical events fascinating. In addition, the book discusses the legal status of women in an interesting and entertaining fashion; widows had significantly more rights and independence than wives or daughters during this period.I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in English history, the history of textiles, or to my fellow Ricardians.(Review based on advance readers copy.)