Sunday, January 27, 2013
The Ruins of Lace
Source: I received a free copy of this book from ARCycling in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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The title of this book could not be more appropriate. Taking place at a time in France where lace was illegal and the smuggling of it was a severely punishable crime, we have the interweaving stories of multiple characters whose lives have been affected (in most cases, ruined) by it. It's incredible to think that something so flimsy and insubstantial could have any real influence on a person's life, but this story shows it can do even more than just that. At this point in history, lace also has the power to bring about a person's destruction.
Lace, or the lack thereof, is a great motivator in this book. Each person "needs" lace for a different reason and some of those reasons are certainly more noble than others. But this is not just a simple tale of greed or the dangers of the 17th century equivalent of consumerism. It is also a tale of loyalties, corruption, family, and even love. What does it take for a "good" person to do a terrible thing? And at what cost? How far must an "evil" person push you to get you to do what he asks? Are you willing to be manipulated that way, even if the stakes are high? Are there limits to the questionable things you'd be willing to do in order to save or protect someone you love? These are just a few of the complicated questions that arise throughout this novel and make for a very intriguing read.
The story is told from seven different characters' points of view, so it's fascinating to see each of them through their own eyes as well as from the perspective of others. This is especially interesting to read given another essential theme of the novel, that of worthiness. Many of the characters in this book have been made to feel unworthy for one reason or another. This deep-seated uneasiness has a different cause for each of them, but whether it's society, the person's family, or their own sense of guilt, it has a far-reaching effect on their lives. They are each searching for their place in the world and battling their own demons in the process.
This isn't a particular setting or subject I've read about before, but I'm quite glad I did. I found myself quickly turning the pages, eager to find out more of how the story would unfold. So why 3 stars? I don't usually give half stars, but this one really probably should be more like a 3.5. I really enjoyed it, but a 4 or 5 star book really has to be one I would want to read again. I probably would not do that in this case, but it still is a compelling and engaging story that I recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
This book counts toward my reading goals for:
2013 ARC Reading Challenge
Embarrassment of Riches TBR Reading Challenge 2013