Best audience for The Tailor’s Grace: Folks looking for a historical-fiction novel with a mild herbal bent-lovers of period works that include plants and herbal practices as minor characters to the story.

Candace said: When Olympia Publishers asked us to review The Tailor’s Grace by Susan Collis, I hesitated. We don’t normally review fiction, and the publisher’s description of this novel didn’t indicate this title had anything to do with herbalism or homesteading. From The Practical Herbalist’s standpoint, it didn’t seem like a good fit for our audience. The publisher agreed but on further discussion with Susan Collis, the author, concluded we were still a potential fit. Herbalism of the time period in which the novel was set was an important inspiration for her, and she wanted to share the fruits of that inspiration with us and our audience.

Herbalism plays a minor role in the story of Ellen Lambourn, main character of The Tailor’s Grace. Through the course of this historical-style novel, Ellen returns time and again to the natural world and plants in particular for solace and healing. By the story’s end, she has become an herbalist who’s skills play a vital role in healing both herself and those around her.

If you’re looking for a lovely bit of period reading that incorporates a little herbal inspiration into the story and setting, The Tailor’s Grace is likely to be an enjoyable choice. For me, it was a relaxing, fun read in a genre I’ve never actually perused before. I’d love to compare it to tales by well-known historical fiction authors like Phillipa Gregory or Emma Cline. Alas, I haven’t yet tackled them. What I can say is that The Tailor’s Grace has inspired me to give period fiction a try the next time I’m aiming for a little vacation. It was a fun read worthy of attention if you’re of a similar mind.

Sue said:  I am not familiar with romantic fiction. I read the Thorn Birds during summer vacation in college. That is the extent of familiarity with this genre. I read through The Taylor’s Grace searching for plant references. Susan Collis does sprinkle botanical tidbits between the pages. It was clear that the author was interested in the topic and wanted to provide authenticity within the context of the time period this novel was set in. Collis did her research.

This is Collis’s second book. It has the classic characters of historical romance fiction: tragic heroine, self centered villains, innocent children, and adoring hero. The story takes place against a background of the English countryside during the Industrial Revolution. The pastoral descriptions lace together the struggles our heroine faces as she grows into her own despite a rough start. I warmed to the main character after a chapter or 2.

I know a number of women who would thoroughly enjoy this book. It is sweet-natured and ernest. Each chapter is broken into smaller, bite sized sections which allow the reader to digest it in short intervals if need be. I picked it up and put it down several times within each chapter. It was fairly easy to regain the story line each time.

I wish I was the kind of person who lets herself get carried into imaginative romantic fiction. I restarted the book several times. It is perhaps too elegant for me. Perhaps it is too interested in the emotions of young Ellen, the main character. I will say that I was happy to see a modern fiction writer lace herbs and wildflowers so carefully into her story. I would like to see more authors follow Collis’s lead.

The bottom line: We give The Tailor’s Grace by Susan Collis 1 thumbs up within the Romance Genre.

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