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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Dressmaker's Secret by Lorna Cook

Combining one of the most tense periods in Parisian history - the time Hitler swept into Paris and took it over completely and the shock of the average French person who could not believe this unimaginable thing that befell their country. The story also featured the enigmatic and controversial Coco Chanel - herself described as a collaborator but one who was very clever at disguising the truth and who eventually got away with the whole thing. The main story however is about Adele, Chanel's assistant who from very humble beginnings started work as an assistant to Chanel and when the occupation of Paris happened became a jack of all trades for Chanel, her right hand man almost handling all Chanel's work and thus knowing much more of her activities than anyone else did. Adele was horrified at the proximity of the Nazis at the Ritz Hotel where Chanel lived and the fact that Chanel actively participated in all Nazi social gatherings. Chanel was a survivor and her way was to join them rather than fight them. Adele was swept into it because she had no other option. Being an orphan she had no home to go to but her meeting an American doctor brought her love and help in a great way for the one act of Resistance she did. Finding and keeping a Jewish infant (an act which would have brought instant death if discovered) she provided a refuge for the child and Dr. Dixon helped her out in this. The story continues with Dr Dixon's disappearance in a raid and the end of all Adele's hopes for the future. The end of the story was a happy one and a totally unexpected one. The story however has a dual timeline and we also face Chloe who is in fact ADele's grand daughter. She has taken a gap year and works in Paris. Never knowing anything about her French ancestry and what Adele did during the war, she is now drawn into the story of where her grandmother worked, and finding a friend who is more knowledgeable than she is she starts on unraveling the story of Adele and Chanel. WW stories are so sad, so emotional in so many aspects the fact that this ended well years later was something that was different and very pleasing to read. The story of Chanel was as much a part of the story as Adele's story and this added a great deal of impact to the story. The story of Chloe in present times and her part in bringing a story that remained buried for decades (Adele's story) was a part of this story. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.


  1. This was a horrible time in French history, and it sounds like a fascinating story.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book. I'll keep it in mind.

  3. I find stories like this so sad and yet also inspiring too. The strength people find to continue on despite everything, whether by choice or no other option. I haven't read this one, but it sounds like a book I would like.