Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt’s island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara’s life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice.
Liu Mei Lien felt the steamship shudder beneath her feet and wondered if the quaking of her own body had caused it.
“You don’t have a choice,” Father hissed. Before she knew what was happening, he’d prodded her to the ship’s cold metal railing. “Climb up, Mei Lien.”
She looked at him in horror. She’d always obeyed him without question. But this? “I can’t.” She pressed a hand to where her heart pounded in her chest and felt the coin purse under her bindings. “Please!”
His face hardened. “Do not disappoint me, Daughter. Do it. Now!”
His tone made her fear recede long enough for her to hear her own voice of reason. It told her Father was right. She had no other choice.
Shaking, she climbed up on the railing to sit at the top, her hands holding tight to the wet metal bar. Beneath her right palm she felt a pockmark where someone had painted over an old chip. She wondered if that was the last thing she’d touch before death. Before Mei Lien could say another word, Father placed his palms at the small of her back and pushed her off the steamship. “Bàba!” she screamed, the words echoing as she fell. Then she felt her breath leave her as she hit the freezing cold water. Icy fingers dragger her into the void below. (blz. 1)
Het is de negentiende eeuw en Mei Lin is met haar vader op een boot. Hij dwingt haar om overboord te springen. In deze tijd staat Inara Erickson op een veerboot. Ze is samen met haar oudere zus Olivia onderweg naar het huis van hun tante op Decatur Island. Ze zijn hier al negen jaar niet meer geweest. Hun tante Dahlia is onlangs overleden.
Inara Erickson stood at the ferry’s side rail with her sister and watched as the wake from their ship splashed against Decatur Island as they passed. A blast of cold air wrapped around her, filling her nose with hints of sunbaked cedar, damp moss, and tangy salt. Immediately her mind took her ahead in her journey, to the family estate and all she’d left behind there years before. She wasn’t ready to face the memories yet, so she pushed them away and, in an attempt to ignore the shaky, melting feeling in her core, turned her attention to her older sister, Olivia.
“Liv, are you warm enough? We can go inside if you want. Get a cup of coffee.”
The wind tugged a strand of long blond hair from Olivia’s bun. She tucked it behind her ear and lifted her face to the unseasonable sun shining down on them.
“God, no, this is heaven.”
Despite her words, she pulled her jacket tighter around herself and hunched her shoulders against the biting cold air off the water.
“Thanks for coming with me today. You sure Adam’s okay with the kids?”
Olivia opened her eyes and shot Inara a glance that told her she wasn’t worrying about her family today. “They’re fine. I’m happy you asked me to come with you. I can’t believe it’s been nine years since we’ve been there.”
Inara nodded and watched as a pod of porpoises raced along- side the ferry, their black bodies arching in and out of the sun- splashed waves. “I should have come to see Aunt Dahlia before she died, but…” She shrugged, at a loss for the right words. “I don’t know. It was too hard, I guess.”
At that, Olivia put her arm around Inara’s shoulders and squeezed. “Me too… It was easier to move forward.” (blz. 3)
Tante Dahlia had van haar huis een Bed & Breakfast willen maken en heeft daar op papier plannen voor gemaakt. Inara realiseert zich dat ze het zonde zou vinden om dit huis te verkopen en ze vraagt zich af of zij een B&B zou willen hebben. Het voelt als een goed idee.
She’d be crazy to turn Starbucks down. The job was exactly what she’d been working so hard for in school over the last seven years. But not once in all those years, and not even when she’d gotten the job offer, had Inara felt this alive and full of ideas of what might be. Not until she set foot on the estate again had she realized she’d been asleep all these years. Only in coming here had she woken up. She didn’t want to go to sleep again. “I don’t think I’ve really thought about what I want for a long time,” she finally answered, unsure of what to say. “But now you want to open a bed- and- breakfast?” “No.” A bubbling feeling started in her gut and made her sit up straighter as a vision filled her mind. “Not a bed- and- breakfast. A boutique hotel. I could make this the vacation destination for the entire Pacific Northwest.” Olivia was nodding and seemed to be considering. Then, over the music still coming from the CD player, they heard a distinctive ringtone coming from upstairs. Olivia jumped up. “Dang, I must have left my phone in Dahlia’s room.” She took off at a run up the stairs but didn’t make it past the first step when her toe caught on the curling carpet runner. She fell hard, her shins banging the edge of the next step. “Ow!” Inara jumped up. “Oh my god, are you okay?” Olivia twisted around so she was sitting on the stairs, her hands holding her injured shins and her eyes shooting daggers at her sister. “If you’re going to live here, you need to take care of that death trap.” Inara had been hovering over her sister, inspecting her bruises, but now she fell still and met her sister’s gaze. “You think I should do it?” They both knew she wasn’t referring to fixing the carpet runner. Olivia grabbed Inara’s hand and squeezed. “I think you should do whatever will make you happy. You never liked coffee much anyway.” She paused, then cleared her throat as she released Inara’s hand and went back to rubbing her shin. “It won’t be easy convincing Dad, though. He seemed thrilled to think we could all forget about this place for good.” (blz. 19)
Inara heeft haar besluit genomen. Ze gaat een klein hotel maken van het huis van haar tante. Tijdens het opruimen en klussen komt ze iets bijzonders tegen.
“Here.” Olivia handed her a carving knife from the block on the counter. Soon Inara had the twine cut off and the stained oilcloth unwrapped. Inside was yellowed blue- checkered fabric. Surely this wasn’t all there was. “Who would tie up and hide an old piece of fabric?” “Maybe it’s wrapped around something more valuable, like a jeweled necklace.” Olivia moved to stand so close to Inara that she could smell her sister’s coconut body lotion. “Or maybe it’s a purse full of gold, or a diary full of juicy secrets.” Inara met Olivia’s excited gaze and knew they were both thinking of the treasure hunts Aunt Dahlia had dreamed up for them as kids. “Open it,” Liv urged. Inara reached out to do just that but stopped when she saw the dirty gloves still on her hands. “Hold it for now, but wait. Don’t open it.” Olivia reverently took the gingham cloth bundle out of the dirty oilcloth. Hurrying, Inara balled up the oilcloth and newspapers and threw them all in the garbage can under the sink, along with the gloves. Then she washed her hands and rushed back to the table where her sister relinquished their treasure to her. Carefully, Inara pulled the cotton back, unfolding each crease until the cloth was spread open on the table. “It’s a man’s work shirt.” “Where would Dahlia have gotten a man’s work shirt?” Then they saw what the shirt had been protecting. It wasn’t gold, jewels, or secrets, but Inara had no doubt this was a true treasure. Folded into a square as big as one of her hands was a piece of blue silk embroidered with colorful threads in intricate patterns. Slowly, being careful with the fragile fabric, she lifted it from the work shirt and unfolded it.
Once she had the silk completely unfolded, all she could do was stare in wonder. Olivia, too, seemed speechless. It was a sleeve. Not a whole garment, but a single long sleeve with a funny- shaped cuff. The entire thing had been cut from what- ever it had once been attached to. But, intriguingly, nearly every inch of the sleeve was intricately embroidered with richly colored threads, creating pictures as detailed as if they were paintings. Inara knew nothing of textiles or sewing, but even she could tell this sleeve was not merely a piece of clothing, but a work of art. (blz. 21)
Het is een mooi stuk stof, geborduurd met ingewikkelde patronen. Inara is erg benieuwd waarom dit stuk zijde hier lag verborgen. Wat is het verhaal achter het stuk zijde? Heeft het iets te maken met Mei Lin uit het begin van het verhaal?
Wat vind ik van dit boek?
Ik heb dit boek aangevraagd via Netgalley, omdat de beschrijving van het verhaal mij fascineerde. Het heeft wel een tijdje geduurd voordat ik tijd had om het verhaal te lezen.
Ik vond het een intrigerend verhaal om te lezen. Langzaam maar zeker kom je er als lezer achter wat het verhaal achter het stuk zijde is.
Dit is een leuk boek voor mensen die houden van romantische en makkelijk leesbare verhalen.