The Paris Seamstress
How much will a young Parisian seamstress sacrifice to make her mark in the male-dominated world of 1940s New York fashion? From the bestselling author of A KISS FROM MR FITZGERALD and HER MOTHER’S SECRET
1940. Parisian seamstress Estella Bissette is forced to flee France as the Germans advance. She is bound for Manhattan with a few francs, one suitcase, her sewing machine and a dream: to have her own atelier.
2015. Australian curator Fabienne Bissette journeys to the annual Met Gala for an exhibition of her beloved grandmother’s work – one of the world’s leading designers of ready-to-wear. But as Fabienne learns more about her grandmother’s past, she uncovers a story of tragedy, heartbreak and secrets – and the sacrifices made for love.
Crossing generations, society’s boundaries and international turmoil, THE PARIS SEAMSTRESS is the beguiling, transporting story of the special relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter as they attempt to heal the heartache of the past.
Estella Bissette was a seamstress, working with her mother at the atelier in Paris. It was all she had known, having grown up with a needle in her hand and her mother’s fashion by her side. But Germany’s approach on France in 1940 saw Estella flee the only home she’d known, heading to Manhattan on the SS Washington – the last American ship to leave French waters.
When Fabienne Bissette arrived in Manhattan from Sydney for the Gala of her grandmother, Estella’s work in 2015, she was once again shocked at how her grandmother had aged. Ninety-seven years of age, she was frail – but her strength of mind and love for her granddaughter shone through.
But the recent death of her father had made Fabienne realise there were things she didn’t know about her family history – about her grandmother’s past. Would Estella explain it all to Fabienne? Or was it destined to remain in the past?
The Paris Seamstress by Aussie author Natasha Lester is, in my humble opinion, this author’s best novel to date. Based on fact (some of the characters existed, as do the buildings, some of which are central to the story); I feel at a loss to voice my thoughts…
‘When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.’
What can I say? This is a deeply emotional book which is heartbreaking, while being filled with courage and love; of secrets that were necessary during the German occupation of France – I don’t think I have ever read a book so profound and which made me feel so much. An outstanding novel which just makes me say to the author – Bravo! A 5 star recommendation.
With grateful thanks to Hachette AU for my ARC to read and review.