The year is 1609: the city where A Net For Small Fishes is set is London. A foreign King rules over a court whose extravagances take the breath away. For favourites of the King and Court, there are jewels and land grants and titles. For the poor there is disease, dirt, and the threat of starvation.
Frances Howard is the wife of an Earl, a member of the Court, who can barely stand to look at her and beats her. Ann Turner is a doctor’s wife with a happy marriage and is mostly content. She is always curious about what happens at the Court but is discouraged by her husband as he believes it is a den of corruption.
Always busy, Ann has taken an interest in her husband’s apothecary and helps him mix his herbs and drugs. She also has a wonderfully keen eye for fashion and style, understanding how a design of clothing can flatter a figure. One day she is summoned to Court and meets Frances’s mother. The angry woman believes her daughter could avoid being beaten if she dressed more becomingly and asks Ann to help Frances. The two women develop a friendship that grows with the years.
While looking at the early days of the ruling class, A Net For Small Fishes shows how friendship, loyalty, and trust between two women from different spheres can transcend the evil around them. As time passes and their friendship remains steady, each is faced with great hardship and loss. They can always be sure of the support and encouragement from the other.
Many years later, one of the women is visited by the adult daughter of the other who understands the greatness of the friendship between the two women and passes on a memento. All that trust in each other was not lost, and the love passes on to the next generation.
A Net For Small Fishes is an intriguing look at the early days of Court life, and the contrasting life of the poor.