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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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Through the Fire Blogs, February 15
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Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 21
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 22
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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 22
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
About the Book
Queens of Georgian Britain offers a chance to step back in time and meet the women who ruled alongside the Georgian monarchs, not forgetting Sophia Dorothea of Celle, the passionate princess who never made it as far as the throne. From lonely childhoods to glittering palaces, via family feuds, smallpox, strapping soldiers and plenty of scheming, these are the queens who shaped an era.
Queens of Georgian Britain by Catherine Curzon is a book that history enthusiasts will love. Those who do not wholeheartedly embrace history should also enjoy this book, in part because of the writing style and the format of the book itself.
I’m a Medievalist at heart, but Georgian Britain is an era I enjoy studying, and it’s difficult to find books on this subject at bookstores in the US! As a result, I was thrilled when presented with the opportunity to read Queens of Georgian Britain.
I have never read any of her previous works and found Ms. Curzon’s writing engrossing even though it is more informal than most non-fiction books I’ve read. This is no boring history textbook! Instead, it’s an easy to read book that focuses on the four wives of King Georges II, III, and IV of Great Britain.
However, I do suggest that if you are not familiar with the historical figures present in the book, you have Wikipedia page available because the book covers over a century of history and some of the names are similar. It can be difficult to follow who belongs to which country and which child belongs to which set of parents, as the sections aren’t completely in chronological order.
The political machinations that take place in each queen’s life—some as a direct result of interference from more powerful family—is a fascinating insight into the schemes that shaped Great Britain and some of Europe over this time period. It’s amazing what people with power will do to keep it! Though I can’t empathize with a lot of it—as I am neither royalty or nobility and will definitely not have an arranged marriage—I can understand the feelings of hope, disappointment, and anger these women feel as their lives move in directions they didn’t always anticipate.
I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to those interested in learning more about Sophia Dorothea of Celle, Caroline of Ansbach, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Caroline of Brunswick, their Georges, and Georgian Britain.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Pen and Sword Publishing through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Catherine Curzon is better known as the titular author of the popular website devoted to the long eighteenth century, A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life. She is devoted to spreading accessible, irreverent tales of the glorious Georgian world and indulges herself by writing historical fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London. When not dodging the furies of the guillotine, Catherine holds a Master’s Degree in Film, specializing in representations of women in cinema. To find out more, visit www.madamegilflurt.com.
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran. Bakery Owner.