Threads of Gold by Jude Thomas
As reviewed on The Cafe, TV3.
Jude Thomas is a New Zealand writer with a love of local history, and she has published her second novel, Threads of Gold, which is the sequel Southern Gold. Both books are fabulous accounts of life in early Dunedin.
Opening in 1890, the first Lebanese immigrants arrive in the Otago Peninsula, and Billie Macandrew is one of the first people to befriend them. For fifteen years, she has a popular fashion house in Dunedin city, but seeing these colourful new arrivals dressed in their colourful clothing has given her many new ideas. It’s not long before she suggests a collaboration with these talented and skilled workers and lifelong friendships are formed.
After a troubled start in life, Billie is now society’s darling. She is happily married with children; she is wealthy and has a thriving business. Billie is living a life of style when the Otago Peninsula is flourishing. And she passionate and powerful, and she finds herself in the thick of the action: women’s suffrage, workers’ rights and the dress reform movement.
Life is perfect for Billie – until it is not. As they edge towards the dawn of the 20th Century, her relationship with her husband has cooled, she worries about her son fighting in the Boer War, and then an old adversary returns to cause even more problems.
If you have an interest in local history, you will love this book. It’s a well-researched read with a feisty heroine in centre stage, and it navigates all the key history you would want to know about these times.