The Paris Seamstress
Author: Natasha Lester
Published: April 2018
My Rating: 5* / 5*
1940: A young Parisian seamstress escapes to New York from the war with only a sewing machine and a dream.
2015: A young Australian woman is summoned to attend her dying grandmother’s pret-a-porter retrospective at the annual Met Gala.
Two women separated by a generation but bound by an invisible thread. Does time really mend the heart?
If you love being transported back in time to another world, you will fall in love with Natasha Lester’s latest historical fiction, The Paris Seamstress.
The novel plays out like a black and white movie from days gone by, with a mix of class, charm, action, intrigue, and of course, heart. You an almost see stars like Ava Gardner or Cary Grant in the lead roles, with the romantic streets of Paris and sophistication of New York’s Fifth Avenue in 1941 as their backdrop.
The story line switches between the 1940s and present day, 2015, with main characters Estella and Fabienne Bissette – grandmother and granddaughter – holding a special bond. Both begin to unravel their linked family mystery in their respective timelines. Estella and Fabienne are strong protagonists. Characters that are charismatic and determined. And it is their inner strength that they need rely on to help them forge forward and follow their respective paths which ultimately draw together in an intriguing fashion, that is both heartfelt and heartbreaking.
Lester’s prose is lyrical and poetic, without being overdone. In fact, it’s a masterclass in how to write through the lens of your character with many of Estella’s thoughts written as perfectly crafted fashion metaphors. As a writer, it’s hard not to notice these things. Especially when they are done so effortlessly well. For the reader, it only adds to the beauty of the story.
What I loved in particular was the depth at which both storylines are written. It’s hard to write dual storylines, yet alone dual storylines and timelines. As a reader you often find that one is more interesting than the other, however this is not the case with The Paris Seamstress. Both storylines are draped with drama, romance, longing, and relationship threads that are are pulled together in a tender yet powerful conclusion.
Many novels have brought me to tears, as did this. But The Paris Seamstress was different. It is such a deep and profound emotion that Lester evokes within as you read the last few chapters. Emotion that will touch your heart and soul deeply, leaving you having to almost catch your breath.
In some ways, I wish I almost hadn’t given Natasha Lester’s two previous historical fiction novels, A Kiss from Mr. Fitzgerald and Her Mother’s Secret five stars. Not because they weren’t deserving, but because it leaves me with nowhere to go. The Paris Seamstress shows Lester’s growth as an author. The story is deeper and more intricate, the characters stronger and rounder, and the narrative pacing flows seamlessly. It would appear, all I can do is give this story five GOLD stars to do it justice.
The Paris Seamstress is out in April 2018, and you can pre-order your copy by visiting Natasha’s website here.