Today I have author Iris Anthony on Romance Book Junkies doing a guest post about the horrors of lace. Also I have a very special giveaway for you to win today. It's a basket full of goodies that correspond in some way to each character in her book including a paperback copy of "The Ruins of Lace".
The Horrors of Lace
Thank you so much for hosting me today! I’m thrilled that it’s finally October. Fall has always been my favorite season…except for Halloween. Is this the place for true confessions? If so, then I might as well tell you the truth: I’ve been a weenie my entire life. When I was young, I was afraid of the wind, of street sweepers, of fire, the McCaughan brothers, and heights. As I got older and gained the wisdom of experience, I discovered what my real phobia was: I’m afraid of being afraid. The whole idea of watching (or reading!) horror for fun, on purpose, boggles my mind. And it’s gotten worse since sixth grade. That’s when my teacher, Mrs. Miller, decided to do something new and exciting for reading: she bought a classroom’s worth of horror-themed textbooks. I don’t even know how I survived…although sixth grade was the only year I had to stay after school for detention. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Knowing all of this about me, you might be as surprised as I was to discover that I’ve done the unimaginable. For a person allergic to horror in any shape or form, I’ve done a pretty good job of writing a ripped-from-the-headlines-of-the-seventeenth-century horror story. Truth, I have to say, is a whole lot scarier than fiction.
So how did my book about a length of lace morph into a horror story?
It probably started with the scary background music. Have you ever listened to a seventeenth century harpsichord for any length of time? If you listen long enough, it’s guaranteed to drive you mad in a bright, relentlessly cheery, psychotic kind of way. Given that the harpsichord was a popular instrument at the French court, how could those all nobles not have gone just a little insane?
The horror could also have come from the book’s dark, sinister settings. The dank, dim lace sweatshops of Flanders. Graveyards, primeval forests, and eerie castles.
I’m sure the high Creepiness Factor also contributed: flesh-eating leprosy, grave diggers, and the ultimate Mommie Dearest.
I suppose I should also mention the blood. How much? Lots. Over 40,000 dogs were killed during a 14-yeard period as they tried to smuggle lace across the border between France and Flanders.
And I probably shouldn’t leave out the dead bodies. Every horror story needs at least one and there were countless numbers of them used in the seventeenth century to transport lace across the border in coffins.
I know it sounds unbelievable, but I really, truly never set out to write a horror story. If you’re a gentle soul like me, I’m sure you’ll never set out to read one. But never fear. Even if you don’t like horror, you still might want to give my book a try. Please don’t worry about all those dead bodies or a little bit of blood. There’s no reason to think that any of the things I mentioned will ever take place again. They’re far behind us now, safely confined to the pages of our historical past…or are they?
The Ruins of Lace reveals how the magnetic pull of the forbidden can ensnare anyone into its web. Seven different characters will have their lives impacted by lace, some in ways they never could have imagined. Here are their stories.
I gave into the temptation of lace and it ruined my life.
I was only seven years old. I just wanted to touch it. I had never seen anything so beautiful.
I still remember the moment when it flew into the air. Across the room, it landed into the fireplace.
The lace was tarnished and I would be paying for that little smudge of soot for the rest of my life.
The owner of that lace would make sure of it.
As the shadows of the night fall, Sister brings out a candle so we can continue working.
But it doesn’t matter for me now. For my eyes are failing me and I only rely on my memory to finish my patterns.
25 years I have been making lace.
Lace is my life. My solace. It is lace that gives my life meaning.
My sister, Heilwich, is going to be rescuing me soon. I must stay quiet about my sight or else my life could be in danger.
But if I’m not making lace then what life do I have anyway?
I have two masters. One, the good master, feeds me all the cream I want.
I do not wish to speak of the other, the bad master, the one who forces me to carry lace.
It is my burden. But it’s a better fate than that of my brother.
I’m afraid of what will come next.
The Dog (Le Chien)
Who would have thought that lace—so beautiful and delicate—could transpire into such a dark and unforgiving prison?
But that’s exactly what it has become for me and my beloved sister Katharina.
In truth, it’s my own fault she remains trapped inside the convent,
hunched before endless piles of threads,
weaving together the most intricate pieces of lace this part of the world has ever seen.
But I vowed that I would one day set her free—and so I shall.
Only a few more coins left to get.
I only pray that I can do so, before it is too late.
That is all I have left to prove to the lieutenant I am worthy of my role as border patrol.
If only I knew which people were smuggling the forbidden lace across the border—I’d stop them.
But no matter how many breads I tear apart, clothing I search, and animals I prod I simply keep coming up short.
Will God have mercy on me and deliver me the enemy?
Or will I soon find myself as desperate as the people I often search?
All I really want is to sit down at the gaming tables.
To risk everything on the roll of a die or the turn of a card.
God! That takes true courage.
To stare Fate in the eye and dare her to slap you? That takes nerve.
My father has never understood my passion.
He believes that true nobility is earned on the battlefield and that my growing debts are a disgrace to the family name.
He’s so ashamed that he’s paying a Cardinal to officially disown me.
I need to find the perfect, irresistible bribe.
Something that will convince the Cardinal that my father could not throw me out onto the streets.
What I need is lace.
Count of Montreau
I was the soul of discretion.
None had ever guessed that I had once been an urchin, thief and a leper.
I had washed away that life, I’m clean.
But now I’m being asked to return to it.
Everything within my cries out against it. Accursed, damnable lace!
How is it a flimsy confection of thread could have turned into such a weighty burden?
And how far am I willing to go to get it?
Will I sacrifice myself and delve into the depths of hell?
The mad passion for forbidden lace in 17th century France is known to have driven much greed and corruption, leaving families broken and many lives ruined. In The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony, lace is the central object that plays a powerful role in each of the seven character’s lives. These objects also play a role. The candle, sent by Katharina, represents the light by which she has been forced to make lace in a convent for the past twenty-five years, the strain causing her to lose her eyesight. The chocolate coins, sent by Heilwich, represent the money she has saved to free her sister Katharina from her prison. And the playing cards, from the devious Count, symbolize his gambling debt that has caused his family so much pain, and the extreme lengths he will go to in the name of wealth and revenge. These and the rest of the objects all play a role in each of the character’s stories as they wait to find out their fate. Which is all in the hands of lace…
One lucky commenter will win a gift basket with all these prizes inside plus a paperback copy of the book. This giveaway is for US only.