We can sum up The Paris Dressmaker by Kristi Cambron up in one word—hope.
This book has been on my to-be-read list for quite a while and to be honest, it was because of the cover. I love that dress against the backdrop of the Eiffel tower. One shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, so they say, but we all know that’s not 100% true. The cover invites us to come in and discover what’s inside, a gift to be unwrapped.
This book settles you right into the lives of two women in Paris. The timeline weaves between before the Germans invade Paris and during the occupation. I found that confusing because it’s only a difference of a few years, not centuries, like most time-slip books. Cambron writes beautiful, and the story is compelling enough that I had to keep reading.
At the beginning, two normal women see what’s happening to their city but don’t really believe Paris will be involved. Before long, they discover no matter how much you hope evil things do happen.
Both women end up working for the resistance in different ways. They are called upon to dig deep for courage and hope for things they aren’t sure will happen.
One woman hopes she’ll see her French husband again. The other hopes to rectify a wrong she’s caused a man she loves.
To live in such a time that you don’t know if your neighbor or even your friend is someone you can trust, fearful that even an uttered phrase could endanger you and your family is unthinkable. Cambron shows you it isn’t. Using history and fiction, she brings us an awareness that we must be strong in our conventions and never fall asleep to what is happening around us.
What struck me while reading this is how my view of rationing has changed. Before 2019, I would read about food being hard to find and not have a vehement reaction. Reading this book now, I have a much different perspective on how scary and tiresome it would be to stand in long lines for a loaf of bread.
I said this book is about hope, and it is. Evil doesn’t succeed. This is a book I will recommend reading to anyone who enjoys a clean read, history and women of strength.
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 could not 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 Light 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 Hotel 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 to bolster 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 facade 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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