'The day was dove grey, and silk. A melancholic cloth that whispered and rustled. Who could say what it foretold.'
Dublin, 1840: Rhia Mahoney watches in despair as her father's linen warehouse goes up in flames. Her family is ruined. Her imagined future, full of pattern and colour, plum brocades and beetle-green taffeta, crumbles to ashes.
Seeking work as a governess in dismal London, Rhia's life is changed beyond all imagination when her uncle, a shipping merchant, commits suicide. Rhia cannot – will not – believe he would take his own life, but before she can investigate, she is accused of a crime she didn't commit, and forced to board a prison ship bound for New South Wales.
The voyage is one of dry biscuits and endless sea, made bearable by the women's daily chore: to sew scraps of cloth into an elaborate quilt. What Rhia does not realise is that with every stich, she binds herself closer to a journey of discovery that will not end in Australia...
Weaving death, love and adventure into a vivid tale of the world at the height of Empire, The Silver Thread is plotted like a murder mystery, but narrated with the skill and style of a literary storyteller.