Congratulations to Kimberly Duffy on her latest novel, A Tapestry of Light! This is Duffy’s second novel. Her first novel, Mosaic of Wings, released in May 2020 (another great read), and book number three, Every Word Unsaid, releases November 2021.
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 her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.
When a stranger 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 Scott, 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 this foreign land.
“Nothing you do or I do will ever make me acceptable. Nothing society thinks can make me unacceptable. My worth, your worth, is found in God alone. And he says we are accepted.”
A Tapestry of Light is a tender story of acceptance. Not just acceptance from others, but from oneself, and knowing that we are accepted by God, the One who truly counts.
The story starts off in India where Ottilie was born and raised in a loving household. One-by-one, her family leaves for their eternal home, and she is faced with a choice: stay in a place where she is comfortable even though death can knock at her door at any moment, or pick up her life and the only family she has left, and enter into English society, a place where she knows she could never belong.
I struggled to get into this novel as I felt the beginning moved too slowly, and then I felt that the ending was a bit rushed. But in between the two was a beautiful story that pulled at the heartstrings and even made me cry at one point (and almost cry at others). I could feel Ottilie’s agony over wanting what was best for her little brother Thaddeus, yet at the same time knowing she wouldn’t be welcomed as he was. Though both from the same parents, it was obvious that Ottilie had Indian blood, a taboo at that time, whereas her brother looked every bit English. Her other concern was that Thaddeus would lose the Indian part of him, forgetting where he came from.
Family was important to Ottilie, and she felt it was her duty to protect them. But as the book neared the end, she discovered that family was more than just blood.
“…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.”
The pages were also filled with romantic tension. Though it was obvious to both Ottilie and Everett that they had deep feelings for each other, a successful match between them could not be possible. Everett needed to marry someone who could help him in society, and, sadly, Ottilie could not be that woman given her Eurasian heritage.
I thought Kimberly Duffy did a wonderful job showing the issues society brought upon Indian and England in the late 1800s and the individual struggles that came from them. No character remained static as they each faced their own battles, and because of this, the story truly was a beautifully woven tapestry.
I received A Tapestry of Light thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House. Opinions are my own.
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. She loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of twenty years. He doesn’t mind.