Review: The Tapestry Shop by Joyce Elson Moore

214. The Tapestry Shop by Joyce Elson Moore
Publication: Five Star (November 5, 2010), Hardcover, 328pp / ISBN 1594148996
Genre: Historical Romance/Fiction
Rating: Borrow it
Read: October 2010
Source: Publisher
Summary from website:

Arras, France 1265
This is the untold story of the wandering minstrel who first penned the story of Robin Hood. Adam falls in love with Catherine, who intends to join King Louis’ crusaders. But Catherine’s piety and Adam’s scorn for the crusades force them both to examine their beliefs, after which they must each make a life-changing choice.


I wasn’t entirely sure what to write for my review for The Tapestry Shop, because while I enjoyed it, looking back on it now I’m feeling decidedly lukewarm.

It’s not a horrible book. Like I said, I really enjoyed it while I was reading it, and the parts that were good were really good. But it’s not one of my favorite books of the year, or even my favorite book of the month, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing it IS why I’m rating it a “borrow” instead of a “buy.” I just feel sort of so-so about it, which makes it tough to write a review.

Let’s do a list. What I liked: the historical accuracy (REALLY well done, even down to certain words used), the whole setting, Adam’s patron Robert, certain other secondary characters, how Catherine didn’t back down even when Adam wanted her to do something other than what she wanted, how there weren’t really any modern ideas of things in there (including modern ideas of “to marry someone you must love them or else it’s not real,” because that sort of thing didn’t matter in the middle ages, duh), and basically the whole feeling of it, like it was written by someone who knows what they’re talking about (because it was).

What I didn’t like: Adam and Catherine’s romance, the love-at-first-sight trope.

So that’s why I’m lukewarm. The romance! I liked almost everything about The Tapestry Shop except for the romance part, which was so soppy and ridiculous (to me) that I almost couldn’t stand it. Yeah, I was happy when SPOILER Adam and Catherine got together END SPOILER but I wasn’t so much invested in their romance as I was in the rest of the story. I was more worried about Adam getting his writing mojo back than whether he would ever sleep with Catherine, and that’s probably not a good thing, since the romance is a big part of the book’s plot.

I think partly I’m just really not into romance at the moment, especially when it’s filled with gooey things about how someone is so wonderful and brave and intelligent and whatever and you’ve only been with them for like half an hour total. You know? It irritates me, that sort of romance, and that colors my memories of the rest of the book. I think I’m just really unromantic unless the romance is filled with depressing stuff like death or miscommunication or lamentations about someone’s smelly feet. More “realistic” stuff, y’know?

The author

But like I said, it’s not a BAD book, not AT ALL, and if you love historical romance you’ll no doubt love The Tapestry Shop. It’s a really good historical romance, and I have no doubt that it’ll be a big hit among historical fiction fans. I’m just not into romance right now, so I didn’t like it as much as a hardcore romance fan probably would have. Okay? Okay.

SPOILERS UP IN HERE (I still feel like I’m being somewhat unfair; the romance wasn’t as bad as I think I’m making it seem. It took a while to build up, which was better than having them fall into bed immediately. And Adam and Catherine did get to know each other better later on in the story. But there was a certain part of their romance that made me really uncomfortable, and it was this: Catherine and Adam started sleeping together and while sometimes Catherine seemed happy about it, other times she cried and said they shouldn’t do it any longer.

Obviously she was having conflicting feelings about sleeping with a dude who was technically still married and not to her, and it made me uncomfortable that Adam didn’t do anything to ease her worries, which seemed weird for a man in love. He never asked her about it. He didn’t even seem to really worry about it. It was almost like he wasn’t interested in her feelings about religion and so on because HE didn’t have any feelings about religion and so on beyond disdain. And that was never addressed, not really, even though eventually Catherine leaves to pursue spiritual stuff away from Adam.

I’m guessing that was a hint towards how men treated women back then, even if they were madly in love, but Adam did so much better than other men might have done– he thought of Catherine like a person rather than an object for him to possess, he “let” her leave him later on, he doesn’t belittle her even when he thinks she’s acting stupidly– that it threw me off and made me dislike their relationship even more. It seemed out of character, almost? I don’t know.)

What sort of romances do you like? Do you like goopy ones? Or gothic romances? Contemporary, uber-realistic ones? Paranormal romances? I think I like contemporary best, especially in the context of a “chick lit” book because they tend to be lighthearted and I can go with the flow of a lighthearted book easier than with a more “serious” book. I also have a secret fondness for gothic romances, although those tend not to have REALLY good female characters in them.


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Other reviews: Reading the Past

3 thoughts on “Review: The Tapestry Shop by Joyce Elson Moore”

  1. I think I tend to like romances where the characters are under some other duress, where the romance is important but it is a subplot – there’s some other stuff going on that’s the main meat of the story. I’m not a big fan of the love at first sight either. Give me a slow-burner over that any day.

    1. The thing is I’m not quite sure if the romance is the main point or everything else is. The romance is a large part of it, but it really only overtakes the story in the second half of the book and in individual moments in the first half when the characters are obsessing over each other. And then, while it was love at first sight– they didn’t act on it until nearly the end of the book. So…I guess it was slow-burning? But it was almost TOO slow, maybe, so when it finally happened it threw things out of wack for me because I wasn’t expecting it to.

      Oh, I don’t know. I’m calling it a historical romance because I do think the romance is the main focus of the story, and then the rest of it fills in the background and subplots. But there is very little romance until nearly the end, like I said, so…eh. It’s tough to explain. You may have to read it for yourself, haha! 😀

  2. Oh, that’s creepy that Adam never tries to help her when she cries–it definitely can be done while remaining true to the period. Yeesh.

    I like fairly light-hearted romances where the characters complement each other well and are fairly sane and rational about it, with a side of goop. (i.e., the modern Disney romances–Aladdin [even with Aladdin being a dork who doesn’t realize Jasmine will love him for who he is], The Princess and the Frog, and, hopefully, Tangled.)

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