Culture Magazine

Review: The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress

By Kirsty Stonell Walker @boccabaciata
Happy Wombat Friday, dear readers, and welcome to another book review from our long, hot summer of reading.  Today, I'll tell you about The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress by Amita Murray...
Review: The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress
The story revolves around Rachel Faraday, seamstress and aspiring painter, a great admirer of the Pre-Raphaelite artists.  She has a complicated past and is trying to keep her business going despite her own reticence and the prejudice of the day.  One night she meets a young man, Harry Twyfold, only to learn the next morning that he has been arrested for murder.  Twyfold has reason to kill the victim but so too does everyone else it seems.  While trying to prove his innocence, Rachel pursues her own artistic vision under the tutelage of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, raw and unpredictable after the death of his wife. Can she use the magic of her artistic visions to solve the mystery of the murder or will Twyfold hang?

Review: The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress

Dante Gabriel Rossetti after the death of Elizabeth Siddal


Review: The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress

Lizzie Siddal, whose presence is felt in the book

I very much enjoyed the book, with its lush description and dense detail.  You get to know Rachel, the confused, ambitious, creative seamstress who wishes to stun the world with her talent.  The idea of someone painting onto fabric and creating dresses from the images was wonderful, it really captured the imagination.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the society that Rachel moved uneasily in.  Her patrons are striving to achieve just the bohemian uncertainty that Rachel possesses, whilst simultaneously looking down at her for behaving like that.  You get a definite sense of the shifting sands of society, mirroring the uncertain fate of Twyfold.

Review: The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress

Amita Murray

The murder mystery is intriguing and well plotted and I enjoyed the discussion of the artists and the art that we know so well.  I'm happy to hear this is the first in a series of books about Rachel and her Pre-Raphaelite aspirations.  Amita has created a character who explores a world familiar to us, and through her we can imagine what dangers and opportunities lie in our desires.  I'm looking forward to book two already...
The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress is available from Amazon UK (here) or US (here).

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