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  • Writer's pictureMaree

Book Review: Tapestry by Fiona McIntosh

“We’re all connected in various ways and our lives touch and affect one another, but the most powerful link is through the blood that connects one generation to another. Blood is the golden thread that runs through life’s tapestry.”

In 1978, Jane Granger is newly engaged to a man of most woman’s dreams, but she has many doubts. Tragedy occurs, and her fiancé, Will is left barely alive. Jane undertakes a soul searching mission to try to help Will and ends up in the past.

In 1715, the Earl of Nithsdale, Will’s ancestor, has been imprisoned in the Tower of London, awaiting beheading after joining the Jacobite rebellion. Jane is convinced that saving the Earl will also save her fiancé.

This is the first of Fiona McIntosh’s books that I have read, and I can’t wait to read another. I’ve seen mixed reviews about this book and how it may not be the best of her stories, but I loved it. Outlander fans should also enjoy it.

The prologue of the blacksmith being offered the job of London’s executioner was surprising. It set the scene of how rough the past can be, even to those who don’t intend it to be.

Usually in time travel stories, I tend to enjoy the scenes in the past more than the contemporary ones, but Jane’s life in the seventies grabbed me. By the time she journeyed into the past, I felt like I knew her. Her life and personality were effectively described in the first part, but it didn’t make the plot drag. This helped her reasonings for being reluctant to marry Will seem authentic. She is a well-layered character with self-belief and the will to get things done.

“Within a few hours Jane was so bitterly cold she couldn’t feel the sensation of Winifred’s fingers on the reins…”

The unique thing about Jane’s journey through time was that she didn’t keep her own body, she inhabited the body of a woman in the past. The differences in their lives were evident in the arthritis and other ailments she had to contend with, even though her host was of a similar age.

It was interesting for a character to experience the same city 200 years apart, comparing buildings, cleanliness etc. McIntosh created a vivid picture of London in both centuries. It was lovely to feel the history of an old city and to be reminded of how buildings stand while everything around them changes.

“She realised now how often she had complained during her study days of how grimy the London of the 1970s was. And yet, glimpsing this era, she wondered if she would survive long alone in this forbidding, dangerous and plague-ridden London of the early eighteenth century.”

The character of Lord Sackville is so well described and written, lending him to be the perfect 18th-century gentleman to swoon over.

There are so many points of view in this book, but it really doesn’t feel like it. I like the inclusion of the families of Jane and Will. Their parents are worried about their children and go through many emotions on the journey to have both Jane and Will healthy and present. Will’s nurse and the psychic are also included, adding to the theme of people’s lives being entwined.

There were a few scenes which were off to the side of the main plot, but were pleasant surprises and added depth to the world.

“Somewhere in the world, the sun is always shining.”

The book has quite serious themes but is substantially colourful. Even during the tensest and heaviest moments, there is hilarity. It’s so easy to cheer Jane on. She has her courageous moments which may or may not succeed, but she is a heroine to admire.

I was excited to find out this book is inspired by real events, but don’t look them up unless you want spoilers. It is such an inspiring idea to take a non-fiction story and weave a larger story into it.

Tapestry is undoubtedly a book I would love to reread in future, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Fiona McIntosh’s writing.

“…Look at this amazing clock, would you?…Somewhere in the world, the sun is always shining.”

4.5 Stars

Read: Nov 2019

Published: 2014


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