The Stolen One

by Suzanne Crowley

Reviewed by Margaret Donsbach

The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley "The stolen one" is Katherine "Kat" Bab, a country girl of sixteen with hair "red as the good Queen Elizabeth's." She may not have been born a country girl. "I never knew my mother, the mother that birthed me. Nor my father, for that matter. And it's by God's good sense, Grace says, I never knew him, for he was the greatest scoundrel the world has yet seen." Kat wonders why she - not Grace's own daughter, fey, deaf Anna - has won most of Grace's affection.

Grace and her girls have one link with the great city of London where Queen Elizabeth and her court reside. All three are skilled needlewomen who sew and embroider rich clothing for gentlefolk. Of the three, Kat is most talented. "Along the dark blue collar I'd stitched twining leaves, gillyflowers, and hummingbirds in gold and black.... I loved my embroidery, aye, I did. And I mourned my creations when they went off into the world." When Grace dies, breaking her promise to one day tell Kat who her mother was, Kat ventures to London to find out, breaking the heart of the shepherd lad who loves her.

The Stolen One is thick with atmosphere. Some readers may grow impatient with the heavy foreshadowing, as the secrets about Kat's birth are not revealed until very late in the novel. Some readers may guess the truth long before Kat finds it out. Others will be more than satisfied to revel in the lush Elizabethan setting, the stolen kisses Kat enjoys, and the magnificent gowns she makes and finally has the opportunity to wear. (2009; 406 pages; recommended for ages 14 and up; an ALA Best Books for Young Adults pick)

More about The Stolen One from Powell's Books or

Other novels about seamstresses in Queen Elizabeth's time:

A Sweet Disorder by Jacqueline Kolosov (2009), about a sixteen-year-old girl at Queen Elizabeth's court whose skill at sewing and embroidery offer her special opportunities while igniting the jealousy of other ladies.
More info

Tread Softly by Kate Pennington (2003), about the young woman who embroiders a cloak for Sir Walter Raleigh to wear on a visit to Queen Elizabeth. More info

Nonfiction about Renaissance fashions:

The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing Sixteenth Century Dress by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies (2006). More info

Costume and Fashion Sourcebooks: Elizabethan England by Kathy Elgin (2005). More info

Tudor and Elizabethan Fashions: by Tom Tierney (2000). More info


Elizabethan Embroidery at the Historical Needlework Resources website

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