Diary of a Lacemaker

Diary of a Lacemaker

5 (5 ratings by Goodreads)
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In 1749 feisty Saskia Klaassens sails from her abusive home in the Netherlands to work as nursemaid in Africa's Cape of Good Hope. At the wine estate, she is appalled by the slaves' lives even as love slowly burns for one, the stable master Titus. She struggles with the arrogant whims of her employers, all the while making lace and viewing life through its prism.

When secret intrigues come to light, a storm of fear sweeps through the estate, and Saskia must decide where her loyalties lie - with her violent Dutch kinsmen or her forbidden lover. All the while she weaves what beauty she can to the rhythm of her bobbins, as events move toward their thrilling and tragic climax.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 440 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 25mm | 640g
  • English
  • 1922329231
  • 9781922329233

Review quote

"Not only is it a delicious read, but it is also a stirring glimpse into the quasi-caste system of the time. In some ways the story works as a kind of "Upstairs/Downstairs" tale. The slaves and servants, and their owners/employers live entangled lives.

Our heroine, Saskia, arrives with the mistress of the plantation and her children from Amsterdam, as no better than an indentured servant. When the mistress finds out that she is a lacemaker, and therefore a money maker, she is further enmeshed in the Big House. She befriends the slaves and the other servants. A nanny, she is able to move between the two worlds but belongs to neither. As an outsider, she is able to see most clearly the social, political, and emotional inequities of her surroundings. Much the way Anne Perry does for the Victorian era, Hughes takes us behind the facade of the times to the lives of the people who are suffering while others posture. Her research was phenomenal. I felt enmeshed in the color, flavor, noise, smells, and language of the different settings of the book. And as for that love story, you will have to read Diary of a Lacemaker for yourself."

- Ariadne Weaver, Ph.D. in Cultural History, U. of Chicago

"Hughes's young Dutch lacemaker, Saskia, takes us on an enticing, moving, frightening journey to her new life in South Africa in the 1740s. Looking for a new experience, she accepts a post as a childminder-cum-servant of a wealthy winemaking family, but then ... well, read the book! Saskia's interactions with people of diverse ethnicities, social standings and backgrounds make for a thrilling ride through life.

On each page I find myself marvelling at the beautifully crafted writing. I was particularly taken by the author's imaginative similes and metaphors. She's obviously done her research too, as attested by the convincing detail and imagery. If you've never visited 18th-century South Africa, this book will make you think that you have."

- Dr. David Barnes-Hughes

"I stayed up late each night to read it through, savoring every delicious detail. Don't you love it when a book or movie just sweeps you off your feet like that?...The characters are real to me now, like friends you've known and loved for some time, and a place and time once foreign is suddenly alive with rich detail."

- Theresa Laursen, James Beard Award-nominated author

"I was totally absorbed and amazed by the details and passion of the time, place, and characters. The skillful writing put me in a time and place I had no way of knowing without Sukey Hughes' artful crafting. This is a powerful novel of important historical and universal themes. I am grateful that I had the experience of reading this novel, not an easy read, but a deepening understanding of the necessity of following one's destiny."

- Dorothy Jardin, creative writing teacher, poet, author Light's River

"Sukey Hughes takes us on an historical trip in which life for all members of society is inescapable-except for the heroine who, despite incredible danger, follows her heart-despite the price. You don't want to miss this eloquent, elegant adventure into the past-and you won't forget it or the elegant and opulent word painting of the author who spares herself nothing so that we can BE THERE!"

- Zoe Keithley, novelist, The Calling of Mother Adelli; Of Fire of Water of Stone: Jophile's Story
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