Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Silversmith’s Wife - Sophia Tobin - Guest Book Review

Published by Simon & Schuster

Guest book review by Josie Barton

In the winter of 1792, Pierre Renard, the eponymous silversmith, is found dead in London’s Berkeley Square. With his throat cut and his pocket watch stolen, his murder could have been the work of an opportunist pickpocket, but as the story progresses it becomes obvious that, whilst on the surface, Pierre Renard was a man of means and self importance, he had more than enough enemies who wished him dead. At the heart of the story is Mary, the silversmith’s wife, who is completely overshadowed by her erstwhile husband, and yet by necessity, must play a pivotal role in the evolution of events. It’s a time of great uncertainty, not just for Mary as she copes in the aftermath of her husband’s murder but also for the continuation of Mary’s silversmith business, when a woman alone and defenceless was seen as the ultimate weakness.

From the beginning, I was drawn into the dark and dismal world of Georgian London where the patrolling night watchmen sink their sorrow into the bottom of an ale cup and where the great and the good of the city divide their time between squandering their wealth and interfering in other people’s lives. The Silversmith’s Wife takes the reader on a journey into the complicated world of Georgian melodrama and into the hub of the silversmith trade in the very heart of Bond Street, a place where petty jealousies run rife, and where thwarted passions and long buried hostilities threaten to overshadow everything.

There is no doubt that the author has a real skill for storytelling and in The Silversmith’s Wife, she conveys an introspective story, which whilst keeping at its heart the mystery surrounding Renard’s untimely death, also looks at the minutiae of daily life and the sadness which pervades Mary’s role as the unhappy wife. Reminiscent at times of Michel Faber’s, The Crimson Petal and the White, this story oozes quiet elegance and a decadent charm, which lingers in the way the story, evolves at its own pace. I found much to enjoy in the story, the plot kept me guessing, and I was so sympathetically drawn to Mary’s character, that by the end of the novel I only wished for her a long and happy life.

I would definitely recommend The Silversmith’s Wife to those readers who enjoy well written historical fiction.

Huge thanks to Josie for reading and reviewing this novel for The Little Reader Library! Josie blogs at Jaffa Reads Too, do visit her wonderful book blog too!


  1. Hearing lots of good things about this book, its definitely my kind of read. Great review, thanks Josie.

  2. Hi Josie, I love historical fiction and am sure I would enjoy this. Thanks for an excellent review and thanks to Lindsay for sharing it.

  3. Thanks Josie, another to add to the to read at a later date list. Great review :)

  4. Thanks Lindsay for inviting us to be your guest reviewer. Jaffa and I had great fun and thoroughly enjoyed The Silversmith's Wife.

    Thanks to Tracy and Barbara for your kind comments.

  5. The plot and characters sound very strong in this book. I also find this period of time to be very interesting. Thus the book sounds very good.

  6. Hi Josie and Lindsay,

    I have only recently become quite attached to historical fiction, so I was really hooked on this one by your excellent review.

    For a debut novel, the storyline seemed exceptionally well thought through and researched, so I decided to check out the author, who is also a new name to me.

    Discovering that Sophia works for the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and has previously worked for a Bond Street antique dealer and silversmith, might explain the attention to detail.

    All things taken into account this is a must read for me.

    Thanks for sharing,


  7. I've really enjoyed the historical fiction I've read lately and this looks like something that needs to be added to my TBR. While I've read some nonfiction set in the Georgian period I'm not sure I've read any fiction from that time. Great review and thanks for sharing!

  8. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and London is my favorite place for history to take place.

    This book sounds wonderful.

    Thanks for the great review and for letting us know about it.




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