Happy Spring! I hope you are finding warmer weather wherever you live. Today I am here with a belated ARC post of The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I read & reviewed this novel on NetGalley several months ago but I am finally publishing my review here. When I first heard about the latest from Kristy, I was thrilled! I have loved everything I have read from her and I knew I had to experience this one. This book was a beautiful, intense story that showcases Kristy at her best!
- Kristy creates such rich, beautiful stories in the midst of war, darkness, and brutality. Like her Hidden Masterpiece duo, this book celebrates the courage and light that women fought for during WWII.
- I love that this was based on true accounts of women fighting in the Resistance in occupied France. Such an intrigued story with so much to devour.
According to Goodreads, “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.“
The first thing that grips me in any story by Kristy is her beautiful language. She describes common scenes with such grace and poise. A snowflake becomes a waltz, the street becomes a story, a look, a touch and a sigh become the world. I am always blown away by the way the words in Kristy’s stories become a part of her story. The very way she describes Sandrine’s wartime apartment or her walk through the streets of Paris with her son transports me to those places and moments. I feel the fear, determination, and pain of Lila as she fights for freedom and for love. I can picture the glamorous rooms of the Ritz and the simple apartment above the Patissiere. I can feel the tension in the Louvre vaults and the fear on the streets. I believe Kristy is a master of beautiful language and description.
One of my favorite narrative styles is the multiple perspectives and Kristy does this so beautifully and complexly. I love getting inside the heads of multiple protagonists and seeing how their worlds connect and collide. Not only do we have multiple narrators but we also have multiple timelines for each narrator. While it took me a bit to get oriented to those timelines, I soon looked forward to learning pieces of each story within the varying chapters. Kristy brings us into each of these stories and creates characters that are impossible not to cheer for. Their stories are unique yet also connect in unexpected and clever ways. There’s always a mystery to be solved in Kristy’s novels. And this one was enthralling. I found myself deeply invested in the fates of these two women and how their stories would align. I thought I had it all figured out but then I was surprised in the end. Which is my favorite type of ending.
This novel, like many of Kristy’s other war time books that I have enjoyed, celebrates finding joy and goodness amidst an impossibly evil and fearful backdrop. I have read a lot of books from this time period including several set in occupied France. But this novel deserves a spot as one of the best in the genre. I found myself enthralled by the protagonists and their unique situations within their Nazi occupied nation. To hear how Lila jeopardized her fashion career to work for the Resistance and Sandrine worked for the Nazis while also undermining them were both new stories to me and fascinating to learn about. I loved the fact that they are both based on true accounts as well. It was fascinating to see how even in these truly dark and seemingly hopeless times, both women could find joy. They both found love and hope. And they both were determined to fight for what they believe in. Kristy often surprises me with such detailed stories about life during this time period.
Where there was so much to love in this novel, it started rather slow for me. And took a long time to pick up the pace. I think the double multiple timelines hindered the pace of the novel because it took so long to get more details from a particular time period. However, Kristy is a master at illustrating hope, joy, and the good in the darkest of circumstances while giving readers a glimpse at the harrowing experiences that defined nations and individuals. I love her writing, her characters, and her beautiful faith in this novel. recommend this and all of Kristy’s books for fans of historical fiction, faith based stories, and novels that celebrate the hope and joy of the human spirit.
What are your favorite novels set in WWII?
Do you enjoy novels set during wartime? Why or why not?