The Forgotten Seamstress was inspired partly by a piece of unique royal silk that I discovered at the Warner Textile Archive in Braintree, Essex, and partly by my personal experience of spending a couple of nights in a clinical ward which was part of a huge former Victorian mental asylum near my home in Colchester. At the centre of the novel is a patchwork quilt, through which we learn the extraordinary story of Maria Romano, seamstress to the Royal Family.
To learn more about the quilt and how it was devised in collaboration with quilting expert, teacher and author Lynne Edwards MBE, click here. Here’s a synopsis to whet your appetite: London, 1910: Maria, a remarkable young seamstress, is noticed by Queen Mary, patron of the London Needlework Guild, who gives her a job in the royal household. A century later, when turning out her mother’s loft, Caroline discovers an old patchwork quilt left to her by her grandmother, and becomes intrigued by the curious verse embroidered into its lining. When her best friend, a fabric conservator, notices that some of the fabrics are almost certainly unique and rare royal wedding silks, Caroline becomes determined to discover more about the quilt and its mysterious origins.
Through the fading memories of her mother, some family letters and photographs, some old cassette tapes and the help of a local journalist, she uncovers an extraordinary story involving a royal affair, a life of incarceration, an illegal adoption and two women whose lives collided with devastating consequences.
Finally, Caroline comes to understand what her Granny wanted her to know – the truth about herself and how she wants to live her own life.
The book has now been published in the UK, US, Germany and Italy, and has just been published in Bulgaria. It is also available in a large print edition in the UK.