The Paris Dressmaker by Kristi Cambron is a tale of two women in WWII Paris.
Lila de Laurent is a dressmaker and budding designer for Chanel. But the salon closed its doors as Nazis took over Paris. Working odd jobs for a while, Lila is surprised by a call from an old friend from Chanel who has become a collaborator with the Germans. She needs a gown for a party and knows Lila’s style. At first Lila is repulsed, but then decides this opportunity affords her the chance to pick up information for La Resistance.
As Lila flees from danger one night, she runs into the man she once loved, whom she thought was dead. But whose side is he on now? Can she trust him with her secrets?
Sandrine Paquet’s husband is a French soldier, and she lives with her son and mother-in-law. The place where she works is taken over by the Nazis, who demand that the employees catalog and crate art work the Nazis have stolen from French Jews. The German captain, von Hiller, has taken an interest in her. To refuse his attention outright would be fatal, but she takes pains to be cooperative while keeping him at a distance so things don’t get too personal. Neighbors misunderstand, however, and accuse her of being a collaborator. What they don’t know is that she and her boss are working for La Resistance as well, right under the Nazi’s noses. Though their shop doesn’t deal with textiles, one of the items that came to them was a beautiful blush Chanel gown. In a few moments alone, Sandrine searches the gown and finds a cryptic note initialed LDL sewn in the hemline.
Kristy Cambron is one of the best storytellers around. She weaves historic and personal details into the lives of these two women with suspense, pathos, and a touch of humor. The faith element is subtle but vital.
I miss the days of linear stories that start at the beginning and unfold until the end. But that’s not the fashion these days. The scenes alternate between the two women at different times in their lives, before and during the war. It was a little hard to keep up with at first until I learned to pay attention to the dates at the beginning of each chapter.
The author’s afterword shares which elements were historical and which were fiction, something I love to see in historical novels.
The Kindle version of this book is free with Amazon prime membership at the moment, and I got the audiobook at a 2-books-for-one-credit sale. With the Whispersync function, it was nice to delve into whichever one worked best for me in a given situation and pick up where I left off in the other.
Kristy has written another winner, in my opinion.
I so relate to your thought that you miss linear storylines — me too! I am sure that within 5 years or so, this dual timeline thing that is EVERYWHERE is going to really date books that have it. Cambron is a familiar name; I checked and I have read a book by her, and yes, it did have dual timelines 🙂 This sounds like a really compelling setting for a story.
I hadn’t considered that–that dual timelines might become a thing of the past in some years. I don’t mind so much going from present time to the historic time and back. But when the individual timelines jump back and forth between one year, then a few years ahead, then back again to somewhere in the middle, it’s confusing. My brain wants to keep it all straight, but sometimes I have to forget trying to fit in what “time” it is and just concentrate on what the author is trying to reveal or convey in each scene.
This sounds so good! Thank you for the review. It brought back memories of another book that I bought on your recommendation several years ago about a dressmaker of this same time period. I don’t know why I can’t remember the name of it. I enjoy historical fiction…especially of this time period. Thank you for making my winter reading list a little longer. 🙂
This book is on my list at the library. It sounds very good!
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I am sure that dual timelines will be less popular eventually but they have been around for many years now and don’t seem to be slowing down!
Thanks for sharing this with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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