About the Book
Title: The Seamstress
Author: Allison Pittman
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release date: February 5, 2019
A beautifully crafted story breathes life into the cameo character from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities.
It is the best of times . . .
On a tranquil farm nestled in the French countryside, two orphaned cousins—Renée and Laurette—have been raised under the caring guardianship of young Émile Gagnon, the last of a once-prosperous family. No longer starving girls, Laurette and Renée now spend days tending Gagnon’s sheep, and nights in their cozy loft, whispering secrets and dreams in this time of waning innocence and peace.
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.
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I feel that I should admit that I never read A Tale of Two Cities…I know…I know…I’m missing out. But that also means I was able to be completely surprised by every nook and cranny of The Seamstress.
There is so much more to The Seamstress than the tale of two cousins. When you read books set in the midst of war, you know there will be heartache and heartbreak. There were some wrong choices made by everyone, but what good is a perfect character?
Both girls’ stories have their own path after they are separated, and I waited anxiously for the moment when they might reunite with one another. I had no idea if they ever would, it was just one of the reasons I kept reading. I felt that I knew where the story would end up, but that glimmer of uncertainty was thrilling.
While Renée had faith from the beginning, Laurette struggled to find God’s goodness in the middle of her war-torn world. Only Gagnon can get through to her the power of God’s love. The Seamstress was a marvelous representation that God’s grace is sufficient for all needs. Even when it seemed there was no hope, God was there to lend a helping hand.
Marcel was a great voice for the revolution. His ideas might have been extreme, but he embodied the fierce desire for change…even if the way he went about his life and the way he instigated change hurt those around him.
I thought the alternating views between Laurette and Renée was thoughtfully done and the settings of each character properly described without becoming monotonous. Each character that we met had their own distinct personality, along with hopes and dreams that made them come to life. And the ending…goodness…I can’t say much because I don’t want to ruin it…just make sure you have tissues nearby.
About the Author
Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a three-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series and once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.
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.