While browsing the shelves at your local bookstore, you may notice that there are a large number of novels pertaining to World War II. That’s because there is a seemingly infinite number of stories from that era to be written, including some tremendous historical fiction. In fact, I bet that if you read nothing but historical fiction about World War II for your whole life, you’d never run out. And you’d have still only read a fraction of them!
As far as stories go, World War II might be the most popular subject of historical fiction. There’s drama! There’s triumph! There’s heartbreak! And there are so many great World War II novels being written by some of today’s most exciting authors. Take Natasha Lester, for instance. Her most recent novel, The Paris Seamstress, is a moving World War II novel about love and sacrifice.
Starting in France in 1940, The Paris Seamstress is about a young seamstress named Estella Bissette. Estella dreams of becoming a famous fashion designer. She even has an amazing signature dress that she designed. But with the Germans advancing on Paris, Estella's mother sends her away from the city—with just her suitcase and her sewing machine—aboard the SS Washington, the last American ship to leave French waters.
When Estella arrives in New York City, she seeks to make a name for herself in the Garment District, which has already been established as the bustling hub of fashion in the United States. But despite the glamour and the sophistication that her new life brings, Estella is haunted by everything she left behind, including the handsome stranger she met shortly before she left.
This gripping novel is told back and forth between two time periods. The other setting is New York City in 2015. In the decades since she arrived in the city, Estella Bissette has become one of the most famous names in fashion. She is being honored at the Met’s annual gala, where some of her designs are being exhibited. Fabienne Bissette, Estella’s granddaughter, has traveled all the way from Australia to take part in her ailing grandmother’s celebration.
Fabienne has always known her grandmother as a legendary fashion designer, but she knew nothing about her early years until her father revealed something about Fabienne’s grandmother to her before he died. But when she arrives in New York City with questions for Estella, Estella is unwilling to discuss the past with her granddaughter, so she will have to dig to uncover the long-hidden, heartbreaking secrets about Estella’s early life. Fabienne will also have to face her own decisions about her life…and her own handsome strangers.
The Paris Seamstress is a life-affirming, engrossing novel about pursuing your dreams and living up to your potential in the very little time we have on this planet. If you enjoy reading historical fiction books set in France, and if you love great book club books like The Lilac Girls and The Nightingale, you’ll love The Paris Seamstress! Natasha Lester does an incredible job with the details, especially the fashion. (I’m guessing she’s probably a bit of an expert, as she has worked for L’Oreal and collects vintage fashion herself!)
And get ready, fans of World War II novels set in France, because she has another wonderful novel coming in the fall! It’s called The Paris Orphan, and it is another sweeping tale set in two time periods.
In 1942, Jessica May is an American model whose career has taken a sudden nosedive through unfortunate circumstances. She ends up being sent to Europe to work as a photojournalist for Vogue. Despite the difficulties she faces on the job, she makes important friendships - including with the famous Martha Gellhorn - and gains the love of a young orphan named Victorine.
And in 2005, D'Arcy Hallworth travels to France to curate a collection of photos by a reclusive artist. The job is the chance of a lifetime, but when she uncovers a photo featuring her own mother, Victorine, it will change everything D'Arcy thought she knew about her own life. With The Paris Orphan, Natasha Lester once again weaves romance, mystery, and heartbreak, to deliver an engrossing novel about war, secrets, and family.
Whether your reading interests are in history, World War II, romance, female friendships, or family secrets, Natasha Lester has you covered! She does a marvelous job writing realistic characters that come to life on the page. They’re the perfect book to relax and sink into. Let’s hope The Paris Seamstress and The Paris Orphan are just the beginning of many more wonderful historical novels that we’ll be seeing from Natasha Lester for years to come!
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Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for L’Oreal before penning the USA Today and internationally bestselling novel The Paris Seamstress. When she’s not writing, she loves collecting vintage fashion, traveling, reading, practicing yoga, and playing with her three children. Natasha lives in Perth, Western Australia.
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Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor, co-host of All the Books, a Book of the Month judge, and above all else, a ravenous reader. She resides in Maine with her cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon. You can see pictures of her cats and book hauls on Twitter @MissLiberty and Instagram @franzencomesalive.