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
What an amazing book this turned out to be. So sympathetically written, the story slipped seamlessly between present and past intertwining the lives of people and creating a picture of death and sorrow mingled with Joy and happiness. This story is so convincing it could almost be real. My favourite kind of book set during the war years, it is a must read and if I was able I would award 10*
Thanks to NetGalley, Amazon Publishing UK and Fiona Valpy for my copy of her new book: The Dressmaker's Gift. I have read her previous book: The Beekeeper's Promise and I loved it.
Paris, 1940. The city is occupied by the Nazis, three young French seamstresses Claire, Mireille and Vivienne are kept busy sewing beautiful dresses for German officers wives and their mistresses.
The girls share a tiny apartment, it's situated on the top floor of the fashion house where they work and the three girls are best friends.
The French citizens are struggling to survive, basic necessities are in short supply, everything is restricted and taken by the German army. Food, clothing, new shoes, fuel to run heaters and cars is hard to find. People are being sent to work in Germany, others are arrested, their families and friends never hear from them again.
The French people are doing what they can to rebel against the German's, many are involved in the resistance and are the girls?
Paris 2017. Harriet arrives in France, she's Claire's granddaughter and she moved to France to work for a year. Much to her shock she discovers she's living and working in the same building on the Rue Cardinale as her grandmother. Harriet's mother died when she was very young, her dad married again and she's struggled with finding her place in the world. She's discovers a picture of three smiling girls in Paris, taken during WW II and in a box of her mother things? Harriet decides to investigate, find out the girls identities, what happened to them during the war and she's not at all prepared for what she uncovers.
Three young women living, working and trying to survive in Paris during WW II. They had to make difficult choices, it's very dangerous, anyone could betray them and they had no idea who they can trust? Claire, Mireille and Vivienne had a friendship that was sewn together by a unbreakable thread and it lives on in the beautiful gowns they made.
I enjoyed, The Dressmaker's Gift, the dual time line was easy to follow and it was relevant to the books ending.
Harriet's grandparents never spoke about what happened to them during WW II, it effected their daughter Felicity, she struggled to cope, by discovering the truth about her grandmother experiences during the war, it helps Harriet understand her own mothers battle with mental illness and she's reunited with her father.
I received a complimentary copy of The Dressmaker's Gift, opinions expressed in this review are my own and I gave the book 4 stars. I have shared my review on Goodreads, NetGalley, Australian Amazon, Twitter and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/
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.
I picked this free book through the Amazon First Reads program (or something like that). I love stories set in WWII and I am always looking to read something from a different angle. I enjoy books that move back and forth in time and reading about a character in the present discovering something about their family. I also enjoy sewing as a hobby. So the description of this book rang a lot of happy bells for me. I’m sad that it fell so short. In terms of storytelling and writing, there are so many better books out there. The author’s pitch for the not very scientifically sound idea of inherited trauma dropped this down to two stars for me.
The parallel stories have potential. It is set between 1940-45 in Nazi occupied Paris. Three young seamstresses live together above the fashion house where they are employed. Each of them is involved in the French resistance in different ways. They are initially unaware that the others are actively working to free France. Move forward to 2017. One of the seamstress’ granddaughter comes to Paris hoping to learn more about her family as she still mourns her mother’s suicide some years earlier. Coincidently, she ends up in the same apartment as her grandmother and is rooming with a young woman whose grandmother was also a seamstress and living in that apartment. As granddaughter Harriet learns more about her grandmother Claire, she gains insight into her family and into herself. Harriet is also in Paris during the time of bombings and terrorist attacks in France. This is an interesting and unique plot line. However, I think the author missed some opportunities here to make some stronger connects between the time periods.
Several things made this a two star rating for me. First, the writing is average and just basic storytelling. Compared to other books I have read on this topic, The Dressmaker’s Gift is WWII lite and lacks emotional resonance. There are also too many happy coincidences and too many happy endings for my taste.
This was a three star book until the idea of inherited trauma was introduced. Specific to the book, Grandma Claire was in a Nazi prison camp, Harriet’s mother committed suicide, and Harriet has some unspecified issues of her own. Harriet finds some comfort in this trauma domino effect. Though the author does mention in her afterward that the idea of inherited trauma is debated and that “some scientists remain skeptical” I worry that some vulnerable readers may latch onto this idea. This is pretty new research with small sample sizes and poorly supported outcomes. My understanding is that there are a lot more questions than answers about an ancestor’s trauma altering genes in the next generations. Certainly other readers may find my soapbox rant irrelevant to the book.
Finally, my recommendations for some powerhouse books about about Nazi occupied France and the French resistance: Dragonfly by Leila Meacham; The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah; and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Fantastic with one small note
Fantastic book. It was gripping and suspenseful, painful and emotional, uplifting and allegorical for the times. My one note is that the story of the three seamstresses is set up to be revealed to Harriet through some letters. I don’t want to say any spoilers so I’ll just say that it seems unlikely that the person writing the letters would have such in depth knowledge of events that took place without him/her.
I loved the idea behind the letters but it was hard to believe in points. Perhaps a diary or some other artifacts from elsewhere could have helped bolster the believability.