Title- The Paris Dressmaker
Author- Kristy Cambron
Genre- historical fiction
POV- two strong women in the French resistance, Sandrine and Lila. It’s refreshing that the two POV are female, yet there’s still a hint at both of their own romance story lines.
Trope- war, fake relationship, survival
Steam level- 0/5 spice
Cover– gorgeous, eye-catching and representative of the genre/theme
Comps– The Nightingale, The Book of Lost Names
Plot/Blurb-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.
Lila is running for her life, away from Paris I believe. Wounded, yet armed & stumbles across a man on the empty, old streets. Her plan to threaten him for needed assistance, he turns around, showing familiar eyes. Eyes of the man she used to love- Rene. But he should be dead. How is he alive after all these years? More importantly will he help her?
Character Development- hhmm, they don’t really stay stagnant, but they just keep “surviving” with what was thrown at them.
Best part- mini cliffhangers at ends of chapters.
What I would change- multiple times I had to go back and reread a paragraph, unsure what just happened.
“It takes a thousand chosen words to explain love.”
“Hope had awakened. And with it fire from within to fight.”
Setting- great details of Paris in the war
Prose- a little weaker than average
Character goals/motivations- to save those they love, reunite, free Paris.
Theme- survival, loyalty, sacrifices, making a difference, determination
Vivid sensory descriptions- below average
Dialogue- average. I loved Rene’s lines
Diversity- French and German characters, no LGBTQ representation which is typical in historical fiction.
Ethics/morals- murder, betrayals, anti-Jew
Thoughts while reading-
Page 30- When the years switch back and forth it’s a little confusing because it’s basically four POV. Sandrine past, Sandrine present, Lila past, Lila present.
Page 40- oh I wasn’t expecting “fake relationship” trope! Looking back after finishing- this wasn’t a huge theme
Page 68- this has happened more than usual- sometimes a simple sentence confused me and I keep needing to reread to fully understand the meaning
Page 80- I definitely wouldn’t survive war
Page 97- oh! What secrets does she know?
Page 130- it’s a little slower in this section
Page 170- oh this Captain is terrible
Halfway- It feels like the characters are starting to have more agency. Especially with Rene & Lila
Page 205- oooh! What’s even more important than that?
Page 238- no! You gotta stay!
Page 244- so what we’re learning now doesn’t have as much impact because of what we already know from the time jumps in the years switching back and forth
Page 259- oh shit. Wasn’t expecting that one!
Page 309- they didn’t have to work hard enough to free him.
Page 316- wish Sandrine did that instead of Michele
Page 345- wait, did we ever get an explanation that Lila knows Christian?
Ending- So, I’m disappointed that Lila & Sandrine didn’t have a moment together at the end. I wasn’t as invested in them saving the artwork as much as which characters survived the war and the reconnection of the two couples.
Page 364- the epilogue in 2019 was cute.