The Dressmaker’s War: A Novel
Ada Vaughn is only nineteen, but she already knows what she wants. Gifted with a talent for dressmaking and design, she yearns to open her own atelier. When she meets Stanislaus von Lieben, a Hungarian count who convinces her to travel with him to Paris, she knows she’s on her way. Then war breaks out, and Ada’s dreams are obliterated in a rain of bombs. Abandoned by her lover, captured by the Germans, she labors to make dresses for the Nazi aristocrats who hold her prisoner, grimly surviving until she’s rescued by American soldiers. But her return home is bittersweet, and she finds she’s unable to escape the past and its devastating consequences.
I really enjoyed Chamberlain’s sharp prose, excellent pacing, and amazing ability to achieve terror and unease, not with detailed descriptions of the horrors of Nazi death camps, but with the opposite. Ada doesn’t know where she is or what the Nazi’s are doing, but the reader does, and your own imagination fills in the details.
The only sour note on my reading palate was Ada’s persistent naiveté, which towards the end of the book, seems to defy logic. But overall, I found this book to be a great read.