The Ruins of Lace reveals how the magnetic pull of the forbidden can ensnare anyone into its web. Seven different characters will have their lives impacted by lace, some in ways they never could have imagined. Here are their stories.
I gave into the temptation of lace and it ruined my life.
I was only seven years old. I just wanted to touch it. I had never seen anything so beautiful.
I still remember the moment when it flew into the air. Across the room, it landed into the fireplace.
The lace was tarnished and I would be paying for that little smudge of soot for the rest of my life.
The owner of that lace would make sure of it.
As the shadows of the night fall, Sister brings out a candle so we can continue working.
But it doesn’t matter for me now. For my eyes are failing me and I only rely on my memory to finish my patterns.
25 years I have been making lace.
Lace is my life. My solace. It is lace that gives my life meaning.
My sister, Heilwich, is going to be rescuing me soon. I must stay quiet about my sight or else my life could be in danger.
But if I’m not making lace then what life do I have anyway?
I have two masters. One, the good master, feeds me all the cream I want.
I do not wish to speak of the other, the bad master, the one who forces me to carry lace.
It is my burden. But it’s a better fate than that of my brother.
I’m afraid of what will come next.
The Dog (Le Chien)
Who would have thought that lace—so beautiful and delicate—could transpire into such a dark and unforgiving prison?
But that’s exactly what it has become for me and my beloved sister Katharina.
In truth, it’s my own fault she remains trapped inside the convent,
hunched before endless piles of threads,
weaving together the most intricate pieces of lace this part of the world has ever seen.
But I vowed that I would one day set her free—and so I shall.
Only a few more coins left to get.
I only pray that I can do so, before it is too late.
That is all I have left to prove to the lieutenant I am worthy of my role as border patrol.
If only I knew which people were smuggling the forbidden lace across the border—I’d stop them.
But no matter how many breads I tear apart, clothing I search, and animals I prod I simply keep coming up short.
Will God have mercy on me and deliver me the enemy?
Or will I soon find myself as desperate as the people I often search?
I was the soul of discretion.
None had ever guessed that I had once been an urchin, thief and a leper.
I had washed away that life, I’m clean.
But now I’m being asked to return to it.
Everything within my cries out against it. Accursed, damnable lace!
How is it a flimsy confection of thread could have turned into such a weighty burden?
And how far am I willing to go to get it?
Will I sacrifice myself and delve into the depths of hell?
The mad passion for forbidden lace in 17th century France is known to have driven much greed and corruption, leaving families broken and many lives ruined. In The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony, lace is the central object that plays a powerful role in each of the seven character’s lives. These objects also play a role. The candle, sent by Katharina, represents the light by which she has been forced to make lace in a convent for the past twenty-five years, the strain causing her to lose her eyesight. The chocolate coins, sent by Heilwich, represent the money she has saved to free her sister Katharina from her prison. And the playing cards, from the devious Count, symbolize his gambling debt that has caused his family so much pain, and the extreme lengths he will go to in the name of wealth and revenge. These and the rest of the objects all play a role in each of the character’s stories as they wait to find out their fate. Which is all in the hands of lace…