Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Daughters of the Silk Road by Debbie Rix

Daughters of the Silk Road

Daughters of the Silk Road by Debbie Rix
Published: 15th April 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 298

‘She crossed over to the shelf where her father kept the dragon vase. He had placed it there when they first arrived in Venice. She took it down carefully, feeling it cool and comforting under her shaking fingers.’
Venice 1441: Maria and her brother Daniele arrive in the birthplace of their father, Niccolo dei Conti. An Italian merchant who has travelled far and wide, Niccolo has brought spices from India, lengths of silk and damask from the lands east of India and porcelain; a vase of pure white, its surface decorated with a cobalt blue dragon, the Chinese symbol of good fortune.
Maria settles in her new home, watching the magnificent and bustling city come to life each morning from her bedroom window. But while her father is away travelling, she soon finds herself and Daniele in terrible danger. She must protect her brother at whatever cost, and she must guard the delicate vase.
London 2015: Single mother Miranda is struggling to make ends meet and build a new life for her and daughter Georgie. When Miranda meets the charming but mysterious Charles, she is intrigued. Could he be her second chance at love? And why is he so fascinated by the old vase sitting on her hall table…

Daughters of the Silk Road is the second novel by Debbie Rix and one I was very much looking forward to after reading her debut novel Secrets of the Tower last year. Initially I was struck by how utterly gorgeous the cover of this book is, it just screams opulence and exotic travels to me.

Like her previous novel this is written in a dual time-frame, one set in the present day with bookshop worker Miranda and her daughter Georgie. The second is set initially in 1441 and covers almost two hundred years up to the middle of the 17th century. In Secrets of the Tower this dual aspect time frame worked extremely well as both the past and present wove together to create one story. In Daughters of the Silk Road I think Debbie has been slightly less successful in creating a cohesive story. I think the main reason for this is that the story set in the past is stretched too far. In the beginning we meet Maria and her brother Daniele and learn how the Ming Vase was brought to Europe but as the story progresses we hop forward in time and are told snippets of history from various members of their family. These were enjoyable on their own but I felt they were more like individual short stories rather than cohesive chapters in a novel.

I think story set in the present day was my favourite part and would have liked more from Miranda and Georgie. I really liked the fact that Georgie never seemed to give her mum much grief for not having much money and loads of new things, something which I know a lot of teenagers would moan about.  I loved  that sometimes it felt like Georgie was the mum and Miranda was the kid, especially after she falls for evil Charles and is mooning around waiting for him to call again and Georgie makes her get on with things. Speaking of Charles, he seemed like he was hiding something right from the start and I didn’t like him one bit. I thought he had the perfect ending to his story.

One thing which frustrated me and which I felt would have brought the story together was how Miranda ending up having the vase sat on her hall table in London when the last we knew of it in historical context was it was in Amsterdam. What happened in between?

I think Debbie Rix is a phenomenal researcher of history and this really shines through in her novels. Her descriptions of the places and times were amazing and so incredibly detailed that I felt completely immersed the scene, right down to how the streets smelt.

Although I enjoyed Daughters of the Silk Road, for me I felt it wasn’t quite as good as her first novel, so I’m rating this book 4 out of 5.

Thank you to the publishers for this copy to review in exchange for my honest opinions.

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