Top positive review
3.5 stars- rounded up
Reviewed in the United States on September 1, 2019
This novel follows other modern historical fiction trends: the modern-day character, Harriet, finds an old photograph in box that shows her grandmother as a young lady with two other girls, and Harriet then makes it her goal to uncover the past of her familial history concerning her grandmother, Claire.
The first chapter was very cliché. Harriet moves to Paris obtaining a job in the same building that her grandmother, Claire, worked in. And, she settles in the same apartment that her grandmother lived in. And, Harriet’s roommate in that apartment happens to be the granddaughter of one of the girls in the picture who also lived in that same apartment. But the story does get better and becomes entertaining.
The synopsis provided is accurate, for the most part. The three seamstresses in 1940, Claire (Harriet’s grandmother), Mireille, and Vivienne, live together in a small apartment and slowly develop a trusted friendship. Their involvement with the resistance is mostly limited to courier, depending on the character, though they do assistant in helping people out of German-occupied France to safety. With none of them being Jewish, the Jew’s oppression is merely a backdrop in the story and is only mentioned occasionally. It does provide some insight into Flossenburg camp, not as a Jew but as a traitor.
I did not enjoy Harriet’s chapters as much. They seemed like “fillers” and at times the story could be followed easily without having read some of Harriet’s chapters. However, her chapters are not long, so it is bearable. In Harriet’s chapters she mostly recounts the previous chapter of what was revealed to her about her grandmother. She also struggles to cope with the loss of her mother to suicide, and frequently Harriet questions if she has inherited trauma genes.
Overall, I liked the story and found it to be a light, quick, average read that at times intensified. It focused on the girl’s relationship development and their work as a seamstress in Nazi-occupied Paris until approximately 45% (on a Kindle). The plot then heightens again at 61 % (on a Kindle). It does have interesting tidbits of historical information lightly sprinkled here and there.
There are an abundance of fashion references and scenes related to the Paris fashion industry. There were no sex scenes, use of vulgar language, or explicit violence.