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A time of glamour and decadence

Monday, October 18, 2010

Silk is another best-selling novel by Penny Jordan, and the first of a trilogy that traces the life of Amber Vrontsky, daughter of a Russian artist married into the aristocratic Pickford family.

Amber, after the untimely death of her parents, is entrusted into the care of her grandmother, Blanche Pickford, who presides over the family like a powerful matriarch of sorts. Blanche is keen on giving Amber a proper makeover and there are the tiring regimens of dancing classes, and the curtsying and the dress fittings in the rush to teach her all the proper graces. Amber is daunted by the snootiness of the people she is introduced to at the balls and parties.

As one of the girls of ‘good breeding’ mutters, “Of course, the Macclesfield mill girl can’t curtsy properly. She hasn’t got the breeding. Have you seen her dance? She’s like a cart horse. Mummy says: you simply can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, or a silk mill girl into a member of the aristocracy.” One of the girls tittered and then another giggled openly, whilst even those who were not part of Louise’s set turned away from Amber – as though she had the plague or something.

Amber is rescued by Lord Robert who lightens her heart with his flamboyance and friendly demeanor while cocking a snook at the society snobs. She accompanies Beth, an old school friend to France, where she gets snubbed by her friend’s family. She becomes vulnerable enough to succumb to the charms of an artist, Jean-Phillipe. Here again, Lord Robert proves to be her savior, getting her out of a hopeless relationship, and offering to marry her when she discovers she is pregnant with the artist’s child. Even though Amber has discovered earlier that Lord Robert is gay, she agrees to a sexless marriage, even as she fights to subdue her own passion and urges, while trying to make a name in London. 

This book exposes the illicit affairs, lavender marriages and the prudishness of British aristocrats, some of whom were openly flirting with Hitler and the Nazis.

By Penny Jordan
Price Rs.299

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