June 21, 2022
Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Romance, Complicated Relationships, Fashion, Paris
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Thank you #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads for a complimentary e-Arc of #TheLastDressFromParis upon my request. All opinions are my own.
In dual timelines (2017 and 1952), The Last Dress From Paris is a page-turning story of family secrets, romance, and couture. In the present-day timeline, Lucille’s grandmother asks her to go to Paris and retrieve a priceless Dior dress for her. Upon Lucille’s arrival in Paris, she realizes that there’s more than one dress and a mystery involving her grandmother’s past to solve.
Do you own a dress that could tell a story?
A Familiar Trope: In historical fiction, a grandmother’s secret uncovered by a granddaughter is a commonly used trope. This allows the author to provide us with a side of mystery and intrigue as well as a multigenerational relationship.
Structure: One of the reasons I liked this story is its structure. In alternating chapters, the past unfolds as present-day discoveries are made. I also appreciate that the story uses the eight dresses as an informal organizational structure. Each dress represents an important development in the story as it unfolds and we gain a more complete picture.
Characters: I love a story with likable characters you can root for, and there are reasons to admire the woman in each timeline. Alice (1952) is a risktaker which causes her to make difficult decisions. Lucille (2017) is determined to solve the mystery of her grandmother’s past. Throughout the story, we’re never quite sure which character the grandmother is until all is revealed and made clear in the end.
Couture: If you love the world of couture, design, and, fashion, you will have extra reasons to appreciate this story. The couture Dior dresses are easily googled!
Themes: Thoughtful themes include family secrets, difficult decisions, risk-taking, found family, reconciliation, forgiveness, sacrificial love, and daughter/mother/grandmother relationships.
Recommended: I think fans of historical women’s fiction and couture (Dior) with a side of page-turning mystery and romance (closed door) will appreciate The Last Dress From Paris.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author, Jade Beer
I’m Jade. I’m a novelist, a mother to two young daughters and I live in the beautiful English countryside. After decades working in glossy magazines in London, I now live in the Cotswolds. It’s where my husband and I used to spend romantic weekends plotting our future together, long before children came along, and is now where I write my books.
My latest novel, The Last Dress From Paris, is inspired by a visit I made to the Victoria & Albert museum back in January 2019 for the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition. When I left the museum that day, I knew so much more about the work of Christian Dior and how he defined an era of fashion. Much has been written of his legacy. But what of the women he dressed, I wondered. What happened to all of them and their beautiful gowns when they left the boutique for the final time? What would the women, Dior’s clients, whisper from behind the glass cabinets if they could? What would they tell me about the occasion on which they wore these dresses?
Women have always fascinated me. I think it comes from seeing first-hand how truly brilliant we can be and how wonderfully flawed. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented women throughout my career as a journalist and editor – ones who juggle the most all-encompassing careers with family and friendships and everything else that life throws at them. They often make it look so easy. But we all know it’s not. And that need to present one version of yourself to the world, while keeping the grittier, less polished reality under wraps, is a thread that runs strongly through all my novels and especially The Last Dress From Paris.
In my former job as the editor of Conde Nast Brides, I shared my working life with editors of some of the glossiest magazines in the world – Vogue, Tatler, Glamour – and I had the enormous privilege of travelling the world and sitting front row at beautiful fashion shows and working with the world’s leading florists, cake makers and stylists. But I also took a daily peek into the lives of young women who were experiencing one of the most intense times of their lives – planning their wedding days. This, above everything else, was the fascinating bit. Hearing their thoughts, fears, worries and ambitions for the future. This really powerful cocktail of glamour and reality is there, I hope, on the pages of all my books.
Take a peek inside my life on Instagram @jadebeerbrides or at http://www.jadebeer.com
Do you own a dress that could tell a story?
Is The Last Dress From Paris on your TBR or have you read it?
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