EXCERPT: “I have been asking myself who I intend to be when this war is over—the woman with much who gave little, or the woman with little who gave much. That is always the question, isn’t it, when we walk through the fire in our lives? And I now know my answer.”
ABOUT ‘THE PARIS DRESSMAKER’: 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.
MY THOUGHTS: I struggled. I really wanted to like this, but it fell flat for me and I did consider abandoning the read.
The Paris Dressmaker is a book that would have worked better for me in a chronological timeline. It jumps all over the place. 1939, to 1943, then back to 1940. It was confusing and sometimes I had trouble remembering who was who, and who was related to who until I got well into the story. The chapters are headed with the date and the location, but not whose point of view we are reading. These problems severely impacted my enjoyment, and I never became invested in the storyline, or the outcomes for the characters.
The pace is agonisingly slow and I felt that the story was centred more on the characters relationships than their resistance work. It also felt rather ‘sanitised’. I prefer a grittier approach. This was all the more disappointing as The Paris Dressmaker is supposedly based on true accounts.
I had a few other minor niggles too. The book is set in Paris, France, but Sandrine Paquet is often referred to as Mrs Pacquet. Surely it should have been Madame or, in the case of the Germans, Frau. I don’t know why this irritated me so much, but it did.
The Paris Dressmaker was a disappointing read for me. None of it felt real and there is little connection between Lila’s and Sandrine’s stories until the very end. By then, it was far too late for me. I simply didn’t care.
While the narrator, Barrie Kreinik, has a beautiful voice, I don’t think it was well suited to this story.
Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. So if you enjoyed the excerpt from The Paris Dressmaker, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. Just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy this.
THE AUTHOR: KRISTY CAMBRON is a vintage-inspired storyteller writing from the space where art, history, and faith intersect. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can be found penning her next stories in a beloved coffee shop corner with kayaks on the wall. (She’s only bumped her head twice…)
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Zondervan via Netgalley for providing an ARC of the audiobook of The Paris Dressmaker, written by Kristy Cambron and narrated by Barrie Kreinik, for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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