The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron is a split-time novel that follows the life of two women, Lila and Sandrine, during the German occupation of Paris.
My Review of The Paris Dressmaker
Lila is a dressmaker and designer with the house of Chanel. When news of the impending war flood Paris, the shop closes and she finds herself out of a job. A series of events later and she finds herself making haute couture for the women of the Nazi elite. But Lila is not a willing participant. She does not want to be one of the women who pretend everything is fine and so she makes the decision to become a member of La Resistance.
Sandrine’s husband is off fighting the war and her father-in-law is dead-killed by the Germans. She is left to find a way to take care of her family without the men in their lives. When she’s ordered to take a job in the art museum, she decides to join the Resistance efforts.
The Characters in The Paris Dressmaker
There were a number of secondary characters but the story focused on Sandrine and Lila. Both women had to fight to survive while also fighting for what they believed in.
Kristy Cambron did a great job of depicting the wide range of characters who lived through the war: the elusive leader of the resistance efforts, the warrior who used his pen as a sword, the women who chose to align themselves with the enemy for varying reasons, and the people who couldn’t understand that things weren’t always as they appeared.
There was a mild romantic storyline between Rene and Lila that spanned the war. I liked watching this couple realize that love was important and is as worth fighting for as freedom.
I really liked the interplay between Sandrine and her husband, Christian. Because of the nature of their circumstances, they spent a lot of time apart but the reader never doubts their love for each other.
There was a reminder that even at the worst of times there are still good things to be grateful for.
The Themes in The Paris Dressmaker
A book set in wartime will of course involve themes which asks what you would do if your freedom was at risk. There were those who chose to fight, others who sided with the enemy either because they shared the same beliefs or for altruistic reasons and those who chose survival.
Too often when we think of war we see the big picture and forget about the people who still have to live through what becomes their daily norm. The Paris Dressmaker gave an up-close look at this by zeroing on the lives and connections of these two women.
Also woven throughout the novel was the reminder that God sees all that’s happening. Mankind has the freedom to do what they choose, which sometimes means doing evil things, but God will not abandon the faithful. Sometimes when we’re going through a difficult situation we may feel as if God does not see what’s happening or that He has abandoned us. But it’s in these moments that we have to choose to believe that He exists and will not abandon those who remain faithful to Him.
Final Thoughts on The Paris Dressmaker
The novel switches between the two storylines and the reader is slowly brought forward in time. The timeline sometimes got confusing because we were following two storylines at two different points in the war and one of the storylines had flashback points.
Still, I found the story enthralling. It did a lot to open my eyes to the choices that people sometimes have to make when they are in difficult situations.
War can bring out the best but also the worst in people and we see that in The Paris Dressmaker. I admired Lila and Sandrine. It took a lot to endure what they did especially when they were walking the path between opposing sides. I liked seeing how the two women’s stories were intertwined even though they never met each other.
This review was hard for me to write. Having just finished listening to The Diary of Anne Frank, the injustices suffered by the Jews and the cruelty that humanity is capable of weighs on my heart. When God returns, we’ll have a lot to answer for.
About The Paris Dressmaker
Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.
Paris, 1939. Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite.
She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquarters. But when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation.
Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost?
As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.
Told across the span of the Nazi occupation, The Paris Dressmaker highlights the brave women who used everything in their power to resist darkness and restore light to their world.
About Kristy Cambron
Kristy Cambron is a vintage-inspired storyteller writing from the space where art, history, and faith intersect. A self-proclaimed history nerd, she loves to chase all things research, going behind the scenes at a Ringling Bros. Sarasota mansion, touring a former TB sanitarium, making bee friends at a working honey farm, or embarking on a back-roads jaunt across Ireland being a few.
Kristy holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University, and has 15 years experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation. Kristy lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read. Connect with Kristy on her website kristycambron.com.
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