The Paris Dressmaker

Written by Kristy Cambron
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

This novel highlights the Nazi occupation of Paris during WWII and is told through two separate women’s lives. Both have experienced love and loss, and both have had their worlds turned upside down by the Nazi occupation. Eventually, their lives will intertwine. A couture gown designed for the House of Chanel, commissioned by the wealthy Rothschild family and then confiscated by the Nazis, becomes the vehicle that will draw the two women together.

Lila de Laurent has worked in the fashion world of Paris for only a short time when the events of 1939 shatter every Parisienne’s world. Lila finds herself voluntarily working for the French Resistance, gathering secrets while dressing the elite women of the Nazi officers. By 1943 Sandrine Paquet has been forced by the Nazis to catalog the priceless works of art stolen from well-to-do Jewish families. When Sandrine finds the exquisite Chanel gown with a message hidden deep within a seam, her world collides with Lila’s.

Told with precise details of the Nazi occupation of Paris, the story moves swiftly along, alternating between Lila’s story and Sandrine’s. The pacing is good, the characters entirely believable, and the revelations of the French underground’s workings are fascinating. I did thoroughly enjoy the descriptions of the fashions depicted throughout the story. But I also had problems at the beginning distinguishing between the two narrators because their sections, although both in Paris and occurring years apart, are not always told in chronological order. Still, a recommended read.