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About the Book
It is the worst of times . . .
Paris groans with a restlessness that can no longer be contained within its city streets. Hunger and hatred fuel her people. Violence seeps into the ornate halls of Versailles. Even Gagnon’s table in the quiet village of Mouton Blanc bears witness to the rumbles of rebellion, where Marcel Moreau embodies its voice and heart.
It is the story that has never been told.
In one night, the best and worst of fate collide. A chance encounter with a fashionable woman will bring Renée’s sewing skills to light and secure a place in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette. An act of reckless passion will throw Laurette into the arms of the increasingly militant Marcel. And Gagnon, steadfast in his faith in God and country, can only watch as those he loves march straight into the heart of the revolution.
I haven’t read Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities since high school, and so I did not remember the character of the seamstress. However, I love reading stories about the French Revolution, as it is an often overlooked time period in my reading experience, and Allison Pittman has written an excellent novel in The Seamstress.
This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Pittman, and I was immediately drawn in. She has created a setting and characters so vivid I could immediately see the setting and the characters in my head. The story begins when the main character, Renee, and her cousin, Laurette, are taken in by a neighbor, Gagnon, who lets them sleep in his barn and work on his farm.
Renee is a great character. She loves the farm and raising sheep, though a little too idealistic. It seems weird to say that someone who grew up in poverty and endured the struggles of that upbringing could be idealistic, but once she moved to Paris to work in the royal household, I found her often naïve and hopeful when she should have been more aware of the consequences of the unrest growing in pre-Revolutionary France.
Laurette is the other main character, and I related to her immensely. She was desperate for a place to belong and kept trying to fill it with people and things instead of God. The themes of redemption are strongest in her storyline and I found myself rooting for her as she navigated her way through a life of uncertainties and unwise choices.
The Seamstress is a book that will stick with you. I was rooting for all the characters and the portrayal of the King of France and Marie Antoinette is an interesting one, and one not often seen as they are considered the “villains” of the French Revolution.
I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to those wanting to read more about the French Revolution and those who enjoy nuanced takes on polarizing historical figures (in this case, Marie Antoinette). The book is well-written and the themes of redemption, what makes a family a family, and equality in the eyes of the government are given appropriate amounts of page space and conclude the story in a way that is satisfying.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through CelebrateLit. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Guest Post from Allison
My dream of being an author began by “finishing” other author’s works, fleshing out the stories of neglected characters. When I read the final books in the Little House series, I was far more interested in Cap Garland than I was in Almonzo Wilder, and I imagined all kinds of stories in which he was the hero.
This, The Seamstress, is one of those stories that came to me in a single burst of thought. I was teaching my sophomore English class, discussing through the final scenes in A Tale of Two Cities,when the little seamstress in those final pages reached out to me. She is a nameless character, seemingly more symbolic than anything. Dickens, however, gives her an entire backstory in a single phrase: I have a cousin who lives in the country. How will she ever know what became of me? I remember pausing right then and there in front of my students and saying, “Now, there’s the story I want to write.”
Now, years later, I have.
While every word of every Charles Dickens novel is a master class in writing, what he gave to me for The Seamstress is the kind of stuff that brings life and breath to fiction. I have to convey the fact that any character on my pages—no matter how much story space he or she is allotted—has a life between them. Every man was once a child; every woman a vulnerable young girl.
So, Dickens gave me the bones of the story. A seamstress. A cousin in the country. A country ripped apart; family torn from family. I did my very best to put flesh on those bones, but no writer can ever bring the life and breath. Only a reader can do that.
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To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card, a hardcover copy of The Seamstress, and this copy of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/db0e/the-seamstress-celebration-tour-giveaway
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran.