The Dressmaker's Giftby Published 01 Oct 2019
|The Dressmaker's Gift.pdf|
|Publisher||Lake Union Publishing|
From the bestselling author of The Beekeeper’s Promise comes a gripping story of three young women faced with impossible choices. How will history – and their families – judge them?
Paris, 1940. With the city occupied by the Nazis, three young seamstresses go about their normal lives as best they can. But all three are hiding secrets. War-scarred Mireille is fighting with the Resistance; Claire has been seduced by a German officer; and Vivienne’s involvement is something she can’t reveal to either of them.
Two generations later, Claire’s English granddaughter Harriet arrives in Paris, rootless and adrift, desperate to find a connection with her past. Living and working in the same building on the Rue Cardinale, she learns the truth about her grandmother – and herself – and unravels a family history that is darker and more painful than she ever imagined.
In wartime, the three seamstresses face impossible choices when their secret activities put them in grave danger. Brought together by loyalty, threatened by betrayal, can they survive history’s darkest era without being torn apart?
The Dressmaker's Gift Reviews
This novel follows other modern historical fiction trends: the modern-day character, Harriet, finds an old photograph in box that shows her grandmother as a young lady with two other girls, and Harriet then makes it her goal to uncover the past of her familial history concerning her grandmother, Claire.
The first chapter was very cliché. Harriet moves to Paris obtaining a job in the same building that her grandmother, Claire, worked in. And, she settles in the same apartment that her grandmother lived in. And, Harriet’s roommate in that apartment happens to be the granddaughter of one of the girls in the picture who also lived in that same apartment. Very convenient beginning.
...But the story does get better and becomes entertaining.
The synopsis provided is accurate, for the most part. The three seamstresses in 1940, Claire (Harriet’s grandmother), Mireille, and Vivienne, live together in a small apartment and slowly develop a trusted friendship. Their involvement with the resistance is mostly limited to courier, depending on the character, though they do assistant in helping people out of German-occupied France to safety. With none of them being Jewish, the Jew’s oppression is merely a backdrop in the story and is only mentioned occasionally. It does provide some insight into Flossenburg camp, not as a Jew but as a traitor.
I did not enjoy Harriet’s chapters as much. They seemed like “fillers” and at times the story could be followed easily without having read some of Harriet’s chapters. However, her chapters are not long, so it is bearable. In Harriet’s chapters she mostly recounts the previous chapter of what was revealed to her about her grandmother. She also struggles to cope with the loss of her mother to suicide, and frequently Harriet questions if she has inherited trauma genes.
Overall, I liked the story and found it to be a light, quick, average read that at times intensified. It focused on the girl’s relationship development and their work as a seamstress in Nazi-occupied Paris until approximately 45% (on a Kindle). The plot then heightens again at 61 % (on a Kindle). It does have interesting tidbits of historical information lightly sprinkled here and there.
There are an abundance of fashion references and scenes. Highly recommend if you love Paris fashion. It did not include any vulgar language, sex scenes, or explicit violence.
Making the hand rocking motion.
The grandmothers' story was interesting and good. The granddaughter's story was not so interesting, and the coincidences required a suspension of disbelief beyond what I could muster. Also, the granddaughter was, well, kind of annoying and weak through most of the book, which made it difficult not to whiz through her sections.
Another historical fiction novel with the time frame leading up to and through WWII. The setting includes Great Britain, France and Germany. This book focuses on the fashion and designer industry and I found it very interesting. It is a well written book and the characters include several generations of three young women from different countries and social classes. A good read from start to finish.
Loved this book!
What can I say about Fiona Valpy...just that this first time author to this reader did an outstanding job of keeping me engaged and enjoying a wonderfully written story in 1940 Paris during WWII setting. Such a historical story of three women that revealed suspense, painful, and emotional drama. I was captivated by the historical parts of the story. The friendship between the women was pivotal as their loyalty to one another and their cause was evident and beautiful.
Very nice story and recommend the read.