The Silk Vendetta

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Clever, lovely Lenore Cleremont has been reared at Silk House alongside the Sallonger children, who are heirs to a British silk-making empire. She seems destined for a happy life as wife to the younger son of the house until tragedy strikes, and Lenore flees with her grandmother to set up shop as couturiers, first in London and later in Paris.

Mysterious acts of violence, however, continue to trouble both Lenore’s life and that of the Sallongers. Secrets past and present--including that of her own birth in France--all seem to emanate from the French branch of the family, which has become the Silk House’s chief rival in the silk industry. Piecing together these secrets with the seemingly random attacks, however, appears to be impossible.

Meanwhile, Lenore has managed to start a new life for herself in haute couture, and she enjoys a budding romance with a Member of Parliament. Unfortunately, two of the least pleasant Sallonger children are now living in London as well: Charles, the violent and lecherous eldest son, and the jealous and vindictive Julia. They cause new problems for Lenore, but she triumphs over all adversity and eventually meets a darkly handsome but arrogant French nobleman who helps her solve the family mysteries.

There is not much sense here of the Victorian era; many of the characters could, in fact, have stepped out of DYNASTY, and they are equally one-sided. Thin characterizations and the plot’s sedate pace work together against any sense of real suspense in the tale, yielding only a basic velvet-cloak-and-dagger story from the popular and prolific Victoria Holt.