Flame-Coloured Taffeta

by Rosemary Sutcliff
130 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jenny

An enchanting story of a Georgian girl and her smuggler, with some witchcraft and violence.


Damaris has spent all of her twelve years growing up on the Manhood Peninsula, and she is well accustomed to the midnight smuggler-runs that go on around her. She is content to ask no questions and go about her life. But when a midnight run ends in a sputter of gun-fire, and the next morning she finds a wounded stranger on the doorstep of her woodland hide-out, she finds herself tending her own living smuggled goods, hoping no one finds out.


Morality is not addressed, but it is not portrayed at its best. People smuggle, and others try to stop smugglers. Several characters use questionable means toward good ends.

Spiritual Content

Damaris says her prayers, and God is mentioned on several occasions, especially when Damaris is afraid she has done something to anger Him. One character has an unusual way with animals, and another character, a Wise Woman, is quite probably a witch; she uses a wax effigy to threaten a character.


The violence is at a minimum in this story. Damaris’ smuggler is shot in the knee and the bullet is removed, but the process is not described. It is implied that harm will come to anyone who has his wax effigy stabbed with blackthorn needles.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Rum is among some of the smuggled items, alcohol is used medicinally, and a passing character is drunk.

Sexual Content


Crude or Profane Language or Content



This is a small, heart-warming tale of a young girl in the Georgian period. Her quickly-made but lasting friendship with her smuggler is charming, and the culmination of the story enchanting. Parents should exercise caution, however, as the presence of witchcraft may be unnerving to children.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 3.5
Written for Age: 11-12

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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