The Dressmaker’s Gift
Fiona Valpy
20th Century Historical – Audio and Book

Free Narration Included with KU

Paris, 1940. With the city occupied by the Nazis, three young seamstresses go about their normal lives as best they can. But all three are hiding secrets. War-scarred Mireille is fighting with the Resistance; Claire has been seduced by a German officer; and Vivienne’s involvement is something she can’t reveal to either of them.

Two generations later, Claire’s English granddaughter Harriet arrives in Paris, rootless and adrift, desperate to find a connection with her past. Living and working in the same building on the Rue Cardinale, she learns the truth about her grandmother—and herself—and unravels a family history that is darker and more painful than she ever imagined.

In wartime, the three seamstresses face impossible choices when their secret activities put them in grave danger. Brought together by loyalty, threatened by betrayal, can they survive history’s darkest era without being torn apart?

Uncaged Review: This is a review of both the audio and the book itself, as I split this one into both. I read at times and other times I listened to the audio version. The audio version was just OK, there was very little emotional connection with the audio, spoken in an English accent, which was fine as the narrator pronounced some French titles and words that I only can speak properly in my imagination, but when the narrator lowers or tries to change her voice to match a character’s, she falls flat. So I bounced from reading and the audio on this one.

In this book, Harriet finds a photo of her grandmother and two other women in France and she finds herself employed at the same building that her grandmother worked at – and this is one part of the book that has probably been done too many times to count, but it was still a jump off point. The place where Harriet works gives the apartment above the workshop to the employees as a bonus. The book really is glued together by the story of Harriet’s grandmother, Claire and the two women she shares the apartment with during Nazi occupied France during WWII, which Harriet starts to learn from another of the ladies she works with. The book will jump back and forth between Harriet and times from 1940-1945 of Claire’s life, and it will tell you at the top of each chapter. I found myself looking forward more to Claire’s life than Harriet’s in 2017.

The book and the audio can be engrossing at times, and other times you feel like skipping ahead. I would have liked more of a real connection between Harriet and Claire, but the author missed a bit on this. Overall, it’s a good read, but not exciting. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars