About the Book
Title: A Tapestry of Light
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Kimberly Duffy
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Info: Bethany House Publishers, March 16, 2021, 433 pages
In 1886 Calcutta, Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon the skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.
When a stranger named Everett Scott appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.
But betrayal and loss lurk in England too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in a cold, foreign land.
What. A. Book!
I was completely enchanted by A Tapestry of Light. Duffy does an excellent job bringing the sights and sounds of colonial India to life. Through crowded streets, lush gardens, and the scent of Indian spices, I was transported to another world. Beautifully woven with a sprinkle of Hindi words and customs, we see 19th century India through, Duffy’s heroine, Ottilie Russell, a young woman of Eurasian (Indian & British) descent.
Ottilie is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. As her story begins, she is swept up in a tragedy that brings the vivid memories of losing her father and two sisters to cholera years earlier. Ottilie relies on her talent to embroider with iridescent beetle wings to support her family. Apparently this was a fashion craze in the 1800s and I’d never heard of it, so I looked it up. As you can see, It’s just lovely. I’ve had no idea those were the casings for beetle wings, would you?
Ottlie is guarded and fiercely protective of her only two remaining family members, her younger brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother. While this may shy some readers away, I urge you to read on. Who hasn’t suffered in this world? Who hasn’t wondered where God is when the circumstances of their life overwhelm them? If our faith is so fragile that we cannot voice our doubts in our grief or despair and come out stronger on the other side, like Ottilie, I would question how strong it was in the first place.
Just like in her debut, A Mosaic of Wings, Duffy has once again created characters that leapt off the page into my heart. The story is told through Ottilie’s perspective, yet the entire cast of secondary characters were well thought out and developed. They were my friends and I was sorry to part with them when the story ended. Even the antagonists recognized their flawed thinking and seek forgiveness by novel’s end. But it was Everett Scott, Ottilie’s friend and eventual romantic interest, that took my heart by storm. Everett is a kind, honorable man, with a strong faith, who never looks down on Ottilie because she is of Eurasian heritage. As feelings grow between them, Everett is torn between the woman he loves and the responsibility he feels to carry on his father’s business and make him proud, thus redeeming himself from the sordid details of his own ancestry. But in order to do that, he needs a proper British wife, the kind that can open the right doors for him. Despite the fact I wanted to shake him at times for putting societal expectations above his growing feelings for Ottilie, Everett is one of my favorite heroes of the year. This flaw only made him more realistic, not only as a man of his era, but as a human being who needed to grow and be stretched. Seeing Everett open his heart to God, to allow God to prune him, and him being willing to let go of what he thought he’d always wanted, made Everett’s journey all the more satisfying.
And Duffy doesn’t shy away from tough topics like prejudice and racism. As a white woman living in one of America’s most affluent counties, I really appreciated the opportunity to see the world through Ottilie’s eyes. Although both her and her brother are Eurasian, Duffy shows the disparity between the way people treated her because she looked Indian where as Thaddeus looked British (white). She never felt fully accepted by either culture in India, but when she arrived in Britain, she felt alone and alienated in her own home, while her brother was touted as the next heir of Hazelbrook Manor. Her search for belonging, to be accepted for who she was, not what she appeared to be, is a theme I find especially relevant for today’s historical fiction reader.
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
“You must look deeper beneath what a person shows. There is always a story. Things are never what they seem.”
“…since I arrived in London, I’ve learned family is made up of more than those related by blood. And before I left India, Dilip told me that home was never supposed to be a place. It is the people.”
“You’re not anything like I imagined, but so much more than I’d hoped for.”
“People will always see what’s easiest to understand.”
About the Author
Kimberly Duffy is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio, via six months in India. When she’s not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes her readers back in time and across oceans. Her first novel was the highly acclaimed A Mosaic of Wings. You can find Kimberly at www.kimberlyduffy.com.
**This giveaway is now closed.**
Congratulations to our winner, Megan!
I’ll be giving away one paperback copy of A Tapestry of Light to one lucky Romancing History winner. To enter, let’s chat about exotic settings in novels. I must admit that India wasn’t high on my list of places to travel but now I really want to visit this country that Duffy has brought to life in her first two books. What book has made you want to travel to another city or country? Why?