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Designing Life: The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester

April 3, 2018

Since her charming 2016 bestseller, A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald, Western Australian author Natasha Lester has garnered legions of loyal fans including prominent fellow Australian author, Rachael Johns: ‘I loved this book.’ Devotees of her special brand of glamorous and romantic historical fiction will definitely not be disappointed by her latest entrancing novel, The Paris Seamstress.

Paris – 1940. Estella Bissette is a seamstress during the eve of the city’s fall. German troops are approaching and the French Resistance is gathering steam but not enough to keep the city from the brink. Estelle’s beloved maman persuades her to join fleeing refugees on the last American ship to leave the French waters.

On arrival in New York, Estella only knows one friend, the happy-go-lucky American Sam whom she met en route. Luckily Sam has experience as a fashion cutter and knows all about the garment district on Manhattan’s famous Seventh Avenue. Estella’s eye for detail is second to none at a time when the world, especially America, looks to Paris for its fashion cues. She’s also skilled at sketching the latest couture styles to be copied by the American designers. With that experience and flair, it isn’t long before she’s designing her own clothes and forging ahead with ready-to-wear. But when Estella comes face to face with the beguiling French resistance spy she met in Paris, Alex, and her own beautiful and enigmatic doppelganger, Lena, she is drawn into a strange and compelling mystery she must unravel.

New York – 2015. Estella Bissette is now a grandmother, a world-renowned designer whose life work is being celebrated with an exhibition at New York’s famous Met Gala. Her granddaughter, a young Australian called Fabienne, travels to NY to attend the exhibition and stops in Paris on her way back home where she is about to take up a prize position as a curator at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. But Paris has other plans for Fabienne. In the City of Light, she meets a dazzling stranger and uncovers details of her grandmother’s extraordinary, secret past. A world of mystery, murder and tragedy opens up and changes the course of her life.

Sweeping from the streets of the Marais amid the turbulence and danger of 1940s Paris to the glamorous mansions of Manhattan’s Gramercy Park to modern day Sydney, Natasha Lester delivers another great love story. Not only a love story between men and women but love across generations, with a wonderful depiction of the beautiful bond between grandmother and granddaughter.

Lester skilfully drip-feeds information to the reader, building the suspense in The Paris Seamstress with every reveal. Her female characters are all gutsy, determined to make their mark, refusing to be bound by limitations placed upon them either by men or society. Her eye for authentic historical detail – the beating of the drums of war, the slither of a fine piece of silk – make her an outstanding author of historical fiction.

But it’s the emotional power in her writing that makes everything seem real, the love, the courage, the drama, the friendships and the romances. Like a wonderful piece of French haute couture, Lester has woven a fine, original story of everlasting quality.

Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for cosmetic company L’Oreal, managing the Maybelline brand, before returning to university to study creative writing. She completed a Master of Creative Arts as well as her first novel, What Is Left Over, After, which won the T.A.G. Hungerford Award for Fiction. Her second novel, If I Should Lose You, was published in 2012, followed by A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald in 2016 and Her Mother’s Secret in 2017. The Age described Natasha as “a remarkable Australian talent” and her work has been published in numerous anthologies and journals. In her spare time Natasha loves to teach writing, is a sought-after public speaker and can often be found playing dress-ups with her three children. She lives in Perth. 

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