This book started to take form when an 18th-century silver spoon washed up on the beach near author Rosalind Laker’s home. It bore the proud mark of a London silversmith—a woman silversmith by the name of Hester Bateman. Fired with curiosity, Ms. Laker researched the fascinating Bateman family. During the Georgian period, the Batemans rose from potential ruin to being leading craftsmen who were known to have that elusive Silver Touch that marks a master workman.
The Silver Touch by Rosalind Laker
In creating her book—which is equal parts romance and historical novel—the author took the bones of what was known about Hester Bateman and fleshed them out into a passionate story that is rooted in the solid, workaday world of the English craftsmen.
The woman silversmith begins life as Hester Needham, an orphan of twelve years who is taken in by her uncle and his shrewish wife. For half a dozen years, the pretty girl waits tables at their London tavern. She is careful not to entangle her heart until the day she meets handsome John Bateman. An apprentice goldsmith, he has many months to run on his contract before he can be a free man and do as he pleases.
Already engaged to his master’s daughter, Apprentice Bateman would be well set when that little time is passed. But a little time is all it takes for John and Hester to meet, meld and marry—however unwisely. An apprentice who marries while in service has broken his contract irrevocably, no matter how close he is to being declared a master at his craft.
Now John can never work as a master craftsman, and what is more, his vindictive almost father-in-law has put him on a black list so that no other master craftsmen may hire him in their shops, no matter how skilled he is. All John has is Hester, but is she enough to get them through the lean times? How fortunate it is that Hester also possesses the Silver Touch.
Readers who enjoy The Silver Touch may also care to try her other books set in the worlds of everyday workmen—and women—who rise to fame. Rosalind Laker got a strong start when her first novel, The Sovereign’s Key, was instrumental in saving the house that inspired it from destruction. The Central Rappahannock Regional Library owns several of her books. The Golden Tulip explores the times and work of Vermeer. Orchids and Diamonds follows the fall of the Romanovs and the rise of 20th-century fashion. The Sugar Pavilion spins a tale of confectionary marvels in Regency England, whilst Tree of Gold features star-crossed lovers playing their parts against a backdrop of the Napoleonic-era silk industry.