Friday, February 19, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway - The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

My Review

The Paris Dressmaker is a historical novel that spans 1939 - 1944 in Paris. The story centers on two women. Lila de Laurent is a dressmaker for Coco Chanel. She becomes involved in the Resistance and eventually makes dresses for the mistresses of Nazi officials in order to spy on their activities. Sandrine Paquet is a married mother who works cataloging art that has been stolen from Jewish families and is being sent to Germany. She, too, is involved in the Resistance. When a beautiful and mysterious Chanel gown appears in one of the collections Sandrine is working with, these two women are suddenly connected.

I wanted to read this novel because I enjoyed Kristy Cambron's Lost Castle series. I love historical fiction and particularly like the 1940's time period. I am a bit of a Francophile, so the French setting was a major plus.

This is such a unique novel. It has a dual storyline featuring both the dressmaker, Lila, and the art cataloger, Sandrine. The storytelling is not linear, but weaves back and forth in time. There are mysteries on top of mysteries: the Chanel gown, the stolen artwork, and the men who come and go in these women's lives - Lila's boyfriend Rene, who works to save his Jewish family during the war, and Sandrine's husband, Christian, who is away fighting and intermittently disappearing.

It took me a bit to unwind the story at the beginning, with very quick flashes from one time and place to another. Once I felt comfortable with the narrative style, I was thoroughly engrossed in the story and found this novel hard to put down!

Kristy Cambron's storytelling is beautiful. There are striking descriptions that set the scene, like:

Lila wove through the crowd of partygoers beyond the Villa Trianon’s back doors. All around, frivolity reigned. String lights laced the trees. Torches lit garden paths like fairies owned the night. Gowns shimmered in time with the sway of tuxedos and jazz music. Guests rimmed Elsie de Wolfe’s grand circus ring on the lawn and an outdoor pavilion that encircled the trunk of an old oak. Lila passed waiters doling out the ever-eccentric menu of pork and scrambled eggs and a seemingly bottomless supply of champagne cocktails to keep the guests caught up in their revelry until the wee hours. A tree-lined road lay empty beyond the back lawn, hugging the outskirts of the gardens. Behind it the Petit Trianon slept, hemmed in by a bed of perfectly manicured trees and hornbeam hedges" (eBook location 711).

I found the story of the Resistance fighters very inspiring, and was particularly interested in some of the supporting characters based on real people, like art historian Rose Valland and American singer/actress Josephine Baker.

Lila and Sandrine are both fascinating characters - strong and brave even when moving far out of their comfort levels and the lives they lived before the war. I found it particularly interesting later in the book as their storylines began to intersect.

I highly recommend The Paris Dressmaker for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in the 1940's or French history.

Book Synopsis

Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.

Paris, 1939. Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquarters. But when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation.

Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.

Told across the span of the Nazi occupation, The Paris Dressmaker highlights the brave women who used everything in their power to resist darkness and restore light to their world.

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Author Bio

Kristy Cambron is an award-winning author of historical fiction, including her bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of nonfiction, including the Verse Mapping Series Bibles and Bible studies. Kristy’s work has been named to Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations, and has been featured at CBN, Lifeway Women, Jesus Calling, Country Woman Magazine, MICI Magazine, Faithwire, Declare, (in)Courage, and Bible Gateway. She holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing and lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can probably be bribed with a peppermint mocha latte and a good read.

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We have 5 paperback copies of The Paris Dressmaker up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Paris Dressmaker


1 comment:

Passages to the Past said...

I'm so happy you enjoyed The Paris Dressmaker! Thank you for your great review!

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