Guest Review: The Paris Seamstress – Natasha Lester

The Paris Seamstress

The Paris Seamstress

Natasha Lester

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9781760293963

Description:

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.

 

Brenda’s Review:

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.

Post Script: The Many Ways of Seeing – Nick Gleeson with Peter Bishop

The Many Ways of Seeing

Nick Gleeson with Peter Bishop

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781925384963

 

Description:

In desperation, I look up into mum’s face. A small face – a loving face —

                                   

And the lights go out. Her face is the last image I will ever see in my lifetime.

 

Blind since the age of seven, Nick Gleeson has spent his life learning to ‘see’ without seeing.

 

Growing up in the working-class Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows, Nick’s young life was defined by touch and smell: learning the shape of each shoe so he knew left from right. Holding the huge, rough hand of his father. Smelling the well-worn vinyl in the family car. Gently feeling the smooth top and soft underbelly of a mushroom he has picked.

 

When Nick meets Peter Bishop, Creative Director of Varuna, the Writers’ House, many years later, he has led an amazing life of physical adventuring. He’s scaled basecamp at Everest and the top of Kilimanjaro; he’s been a Paralympic athlete, a marathon runner, a skydiver. And, most recently, he’s been on an expedition to the Simpson Desert.

 

In a unique blend of memoir, conversation and insights into the writing process, together Peter and Nick have collaborated to share Nick’s compelling life journey with its many challenges, loves and losses.

 

The Many Ways of Seeing is an inspiring true story about determination in the face of hardship, the importance of trust and friendship and the wonderful relationship between a mentor and writer.

 

My View:

If you are seeking a read that will inspire you, will motivate you, that will, at times, bring tears to your eyes and will encourage you to see the world from a different perspective, then this book will meet your criteria – and then some.

 

Poignant, honest and open, Gleeson takes us on a journey of incredible fortitude, everyday courage.  Nick Gleeson is a remarkable role model… page after page of incredible accomplishments yet they are shrugged off as if ordinary.

 

Such lyrical writing – descriptive, poignant, engaging.

 

All the characters in this book, including the writers, demonstrate that warmth, love and trust is freeing, is enabling and promotes personal growth and happiness. Isn’t that what we all want?  I look forward to reading more of your work Nick Gleeson – and if ever we chance to meet – a hug will come your way 🙂