Friday, July 10, 2009

Garlands of Gold by Rosalind Laker

Genre: Historical Fiction
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 215

In seventeenth-century Rotterdam, a young girl, newly orphaned, is employed as a lady's maid to Vrouw Gibbons, English-born wife of a wealthy merchant. Saskia is capable and hard-working, but it soon becomes apparent that her talent for the manufacture of beautifying face balms and other potions - a legacy from her mother - far exceeds her lowly status - Rosalind Laker's website

Grinling Gibbons (1648 - 1721), was born in Rotterdam and moved to England in 1667. A brilliant master wood carver; true events of his life and work are woven into this tale of love and heartbreak.

I enjoyed the different setting in Rosalind Laker's new novel and I loved the journey into the making of beauty products.

"You use oil of vitriol?" she queried, frowning. "Even though you dilute it I know that it can cause a painful rash and much else if it comes in contact with the scalp."
... As they talked on they found it interesting that they were both of the same mind, just as Saskia's mother had been in her day, in regarding the popular use of lead in cosmetics as the most dangerous of ingredients. Both had seen on older women - and on men too - the ravages that it could wreak on complexions over a period of time.

Saskia falls in love with her employer's only son, Grinling, and due to her misinterpretation of the significance of a portrait medallion carved by Grinling, Saskia believes her feelings of love are reciprocated.

Robert Harting, architect & Grinling's best friend has loved Saskia since he set eyes on her in Holland. The story is wonderful and the characters delightful, Saskia, Robert, Grinling, Grinling's wife Elizabeth and Nanny Bobbins but I have to confess to being a little disappointed in Garlands of Gold. As the novel covers approximately 50 years of the characters' lives, the story feels like a brief summary or a dress rehearsal of the main event.
I loved Rosalind Laker's superb novel, To Dance With Kings so I guess I was expecting to feel the same way about Garlands of Gold.


  1. I am drawn to it so I will keep my eye out for this one :D

  2. Ooohhhh!!! This sounds good!

  3. Sometimes it's a problem when a book covers too large a span of time. If it's not long enough you keep wanting to know more. The book sounds interesting.

  4. Very interesting read.

    BTW your blog is looking fantastic. Every day it seems to looks different.

  5. I am going to give this book a go. Maybe read it before the other book you have reviewed - To Dance With Kings.
    Thanks for the review.

  6. Just stopping by to say you've got an award waiting. =)

  7. Well, the whole story sounds pretty enticing but seeing how you only gave it 3 stars I'm going to check out your other review and maybe start with that one!!

  8. the story was enticing, unfortunately 'no meat in the sandwich' so to speak.

  9. Sad to hear it disappointed you, it does have a beautiful cover though.


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