The Dressmaker’s Secret
by Lorna Cook
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Pub Date 27 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 13 Feb 2022
Avon Books UK, Avon
Paris, 1941: As Coco Chanel’s assistant, Adèle lives side by side with German officers in the splendor of The Ritz hotel. But Adèle has a secret. She is working for the resistance, right under the German’s noses.
As occupied Paris becomes more and more dangerous, Adèle will have to decide if she can risk everything to save innocent lives and protect the man she loves…
Present day: Chloé’s grandmother has never spoken about the war and avoids questions about the legendary designer she once worked for. Now Chloé has come to Paris, to uncover the truth about Adèle’s life. But is she prepared for what she will find? And for the power of her grandmother’s secrets to change her family forever…
An absolutely gripping and heartbreaking wartime story of the enduring power of love, for fans of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Nightingale.Readers love Lorna Cook:
‘Wow! What an enthralling and emotional read! I was literally in tears… Captivating.’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘I finished this novel last night and I cannot get it out of my head… Put the phone off the hook, pour yourself a nice hot chocolate and settle down for a wonderful read’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘I was gripped from the beginning and could not put it down. I lost a lot of sleep on this one and do not regret it in the slightest!!’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Unputdownable, passionate, captivating, and magnetic!!’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Absolutely brilliant… I had to stay up late to read the next chapter!! I couldn't put it down’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Gripping and very emotional… This book has it all and I loved it’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘A heart wrenching story of love, loss and survival’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 112 members
A well written, interesting dual line story focusing on who Coco Chanel was and what she did during the war. Nazi collaborator? Nazi Agent? Recommended!
The Dressmakers Secret by Lorna Cook.
Paris, 1941: As Coco Chanel’s assistant, Adèle lives side by side with German officers in the splendor of The Ritz hotel. But Adèle has a secret. She is working for the resistance, right under the German’s noses.
As occupied Paris becomes more and more dangerous, Adèle will have to decide if she can risk everything to save innocent lives and protect the man she loves…
Present day: Chloé’s grandmother has never spoken about the war and avoids questions about the legendary designer she once worked for. Now Chloé has come to Paris, to uncover the truth about Adèle’s life. But is she prepared for what she will find? And for the power of her grandmother’s secrets to change her family forever.
I love timeline books and this one has to be one of the best !
Adele & Chloe were great characters and as both stories played out , you really hoped the very best for them.
The author captured the feeling of fear and the history of Nazi occupied Paris and all the terror that must have been like to endure. Brilliant book..
With grateful thanks to netgalley for an early copy in return for an honest opinion.
WOW. what an amazing book this is the 4th I've read and absolutely outstanding, This one has a bit more icing on the cake definitely, what a page Turner.
Having read a few books about Coco chanel there are many differences but this us the 1st that has covered such atrocities and the life of he right hand woman. one outstandingly brilliant and extremely poignant from beginning to end.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for this ARC.
This is my first read by this author and I will be definitely looking to read her other books at some point. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it over two days. The two main characters Adèle and Chloé are so believable and very likeable. I could sense the fear through the author’s writing of her characters living in Nazi occupied Paris during war time, and what lengths people are prepared to go to in order to survive. I loved the dual time line, and felt the story moved from past to present times so flawlessly and I particularly enjoyed following Chloé as she tries to find out more about her grans life when she was younger and working for Coco Chanel. The book had a lovely ending which I thought was very fitting for the story. The author has done a great job of portraying her characters thoughts, feelings and emotions so eloquently and making them so vivid and real I could picture a lot of the scenes in my head when reading. Overall an enthralling and very well written book that captured my attention right from the start and held it all the way through. I just loved it.
Chloe has long wondered about her grandmother’s refusal to speak about what happened to her in paris during World War II. To uncover the truth she travels to Paris where she confronts a truth that has her reeling and doubting everything she thought she knew about her grandmother. To many of her countrymen, Adele is a traitor. Living in the Ritz Hotel and consorting with Nazis, the assistant to Coco Chanel is in reality, working for the French Resistance. This is a story of bravery and sacrifice that left me in tears
The Dressmaker's Secret by Lorna Cook is an emotional and immersive past present narrative that I couldn't put down. I loved both timelines equally and my heart was absolutely thumping for most of the book. The main characters were so vivid and well drawn, and I was fascinated to learn more about Coco Chanel and her origins of her business. A truly brilliant novel.
Such an interesting story! I think we’ve all heard of Coco Channel and her famous brand but I never really knew anything about her other than her line of clothing and perfume. Lorna Cook brought her alive through her storytelling with her two protagonists in this intriguing dual timeline novel.
Beginning in 1941 we meet Adele who is a young French woman desperate to find work. As fate would have it, she finds a job working as an assistant to Coco Channel. Through Adele’s eyes we learn of her story and her loyalties during the second world war in Paris. We are given a glimpse into the difficulties and dangers of so many just struggling to eat and survive. Adele’s caught in the middle between the resistance and being so close to the Nazi’s because of her employer’s friendships.
In 2018 we meet Chloe, recently divorced and needing a change, Chloe has moved to Paris to take a year out and think about the direction she wants her life to move in. She’s rented a flat, has begun working for a friend in a clothing shop when by chance she meets Etienne. Their friendship helps her to uncover a bit more about her grandmother Adele’s time working for Channel during the war, a time Adele never spoke about.
Lorna Cook is quickly becoming an author that’s on my list of favourites. The Dressmaker’s Secret has everything I enjoy in a novel. This really is a great historical fiction novel with intrigue, romance, danger and mystery. Truly enjoyable.
Thank you Netgalley, Avon Books UK and Lorna Cook for offering me the chance to read this advanced copy in exchange for my unbiased review.
I found this a really interesting read, and I might possibly be the only person who didnt realise that Coco Chanel played a part in the war. This had such an interesting storyline and I loved that I didnt really know what to believe or what Chanel's part in it was. A really great historical read
One would think I’d be tired of reading WWII Historical mysteries by now, but they haven’t read this one. How can you not be intrigued by Coco Chanel and her role in the war? Take into account Adel’s secret along with this and you’ve got one hard to put down story!
I really enjoyed how the author weaved the present with the past to tell her story. I find women like Adele to be true heroines and while this is fiction, there are so many that were doing what Adele did and risking their lives to end the war. A great read that had me up way later than I planned to be, since couldn’t put it down.
What is the dressmaker's secret? Read and find out! A beautiful story with a strong and courageous heroine. I couldn't put this down! Beautiful writing kept me turning the pages!
I’ve just let out a massive sigh on finishing this quite extraordinary book, Lorna Cook has done it again. Lorna has weaved her magic into an obscure and vague part of world war 2 and brought history alive on the page. This is a tense and emotional tale, sensitive yet brutal, controlled yet a little wild, and with the most unexpected ended that left me breathless. Wow, just wow. Keep writing Lorna, you are incredible 😍
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The language seemed a little simplistic at first but soon developed in pace and quality. Whilst I was aware of Chanel being accused as a nazi collaborator this book put it into context. I loved the dual timeline contrast and look forward to reading more from this author.
The Dressmaker’s Secret by Lorna Cook is an excellent dual timeline historical fiction novel that takes us back to the world of Chanel, the Ritz, WWII- Paris…and the secrets that are woven within.
I am a huge fan of Ms. Cook and also love a great dual timeline historical fiction, and the author was easily able to pull it off. It was gripping, suspenseful, and addictive…full of mysteries, twists, turns, surprises…and a dash of romance.
I loved reading how the two stories were woven together to give us a fascinating narrative. Present-day Chloe, and WWII-era Adele (Chloe’s grandmother) were both excellent lead characters and I actually enjoyed both equally (and that is difficult to pull off).
I have read quite a bit concerning the parts that Coco Chanel and the Ritz played in occupied Paris from other history books and from HF, but Ms. Cook was able to present this material in a fresh and new light. I felt as if I was reading it all for the first time. I had to know every facet…how Adele would stake her morals and her subsequent actions while being employed by Chanel. I had to know what Chloe and Etienne would unearth in their research…and how it all would blend together. I loved how it all played out…and I enjoyed the ending.
Another fabulous book by Ms. Cook that I highly recommend.
Thank you NG and Avon Books UK for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.
I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 1/27/22.
This book was absolutely amazing. I was intrigued, interested, and found it extremely hard to stop reading. It was very well-written and I couldn’t put it down. It is one of my favorite books I’ve read so far. I can’t wait for everyone to read this book and I hope everyone loves it as much as I did.
The Dressmaker’s Secret is an amazing novel surrounding facts of Coco Chanel's life in Paris during WWII. The book has a dual timeline between Adèle, who is Coco Chanel's assistant in 1940's Paris during the Nazi occupation, and Chloé, Adèle's granddaughter in present day. This is a very well researched and written historical novel. It inspired me to read more about the life of Coco Chanel. Thanks to author Lorna Cook, Avon Books UK, Avon, and to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book for an honest review.
What a heartfelt book about the war and what the people of France had to do to survive including a very famous dressmaker. The story weaves ithrough the eyes of two woman and how they found love. Great story
Thank you to NetGalley and Avon Books for the opportunity to read this. The setting of the book, Paris, at the height of World War II drew me in. Dual timelines are always interesting too. Chloe lives in Paris following a divorce, where she meets a stranger that encourages her interest in Nazi occupied Paris. Her grandmother, Adele, lived in Paris at that time. We read about her discoveries into her grandmother's background. The other timeline is of Adele, her grandmother. Her chance encounter that led her to working for Coco Chanel, the famous designer and perfumer. Adele lived during the Nazi occupation, in Paris at The Ritz. She literally lived surrounded by Nazis. We learn more about Chanel's shocking role with the Nazis and Adele's view of the war. There's love, heartache, tremendous and horrible deaths, and an ending that beautifully ties everything together. I was fascinated and wholly engrossed.
Oh, the ending – well the almost ending – it’s actually the next to the last chapter. It will make you smile and bring tears to your eyes! I’m not giving it away due to spoilers but trust me this book does NOT belong in your DNF pile.
This is year another dual timeline / World War II (Paris) / Present Day (London & Paris) novel. While I think this genre is a bit overdone, The Dressmaker’s Secret adds an interesting twist by creating Adele, the Paris character as a personal assistant to Coco Chanel. Madam Chanel moves both herself and her assistant into the Hotel Ritz for the duration of the war. Adele, unlike Chanel has a conscience and feels both uncomfortable and guilty that while other Parisians are suffering from cold and hunger she has enough to eat and warm bed. She does what she can to aid the resistance but the need for food and shelter hold her back from getting to involved.
Fast forward 50 years and Adele’s granddaughter, Chloe returns to Paris to recover from a failed marriage & to reinvent herself. Via a handsome Frenchman she becomes interested in WWII Paris and the two begin to research the activities of ordinary French citizens during the Nazi Occupation. What they find shocks Chloe. She returns to England & confronts her grandmother and the family secrets spill out.
Ms. Cook includes a list of her sources – something I, who love to go down rabbit holes really appreciate. The author has done her research - I knew a bit about Coco Chanel, Parisian Nazi collaborators and general war time conditions but I had no idea that Coco Chanel had a Nazi lover and tried to use the Nuremberg Laws to verst her perfume company from her Jewish financial partners. I don’t think I’ll ever see those famous interlocked Cs in the same light.
My only quibble is that when Chloe starts her research she finds what she's looking for almost immediately & appears to have no trouble deciphering handwritten World War II era French and German records. This is a novel so I'll let this pass since the author needed to keep the novel moving along.
If you are a fan of Sarah’s Key or the Paris Librarian, then you will find The Dressmaker’s Secret a compelling and interesting read. This is the first of Ms. Cook’s books that I’ve read and I look forward to reading her pervious novels.
Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in return for my unbiased and voluntary review.
Thank you AvonBooksUK for this eARC! I love a historical fiction story based on WW2 and The Dressmaker's Secret did not disappoint! I felt like I was in Paris with Chloe eating tartiflette and beef bourguignon and experiencing the amazing Parisian life wearing vintage clothes. Adele was another completely engaging character and flipping between Chloe and Adele's stories was so seamless, where one perspective stopped, the other took over.
I would definitely recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers! 4.5 stars!
I love it when historical fiction authors weave information into the story that makes you stop and think… What? Is this for real?
The author’s vivid descriptions of the world of Chanel during wartime was fascinating. Portraying the style icon as a strong, often difficult woman to please. Surrounded by secrets and lies, Adele the dressmaker’s assistant finds herself in impossible situations. Risking her life to support the resistance, whilst living in the same hotel as German officers, reading this book had me holding my breath and my heart thumping in my ears.
Gripping, tense and a book that you can’t put down. The Dressmaker’s Secrets is now in my Top 3 favourite Historical Fiction reads.
If you love historical fiction I'd highly recommend this one.
Paris, 1941: As Coco Chanel's assistant, Adele lives side by side with German officers in the splendor of The Ritz Hotel. But Adele has a secret. She's working for the resistance, right under the Germans noses.
Present day: Chloe's has never spoken about the war and avoids questions about the legendary designer she once worked for. Now Chloe has come to Paris, to uncover the truth about Adele's life. But is she prepared for what she will find?
I do like a book with a dual timeline, especially if it's well written and the two timelines join together seamlessly. The story has been well researched and covers: fear. love, loss and heartbreak. The characters are well developed and believable. The story flipped backwards and forwards telling us Adele and Chloe's stories. It did take me a few chapters to get into the book but I'm glad I stuck with it. Filled with twists and an ending I wasn't expecting.
I would like to thank #NetGalley #AvonBooksUK and the author #LornaCook for my ARC of #TheDressmakersSecret in exchange for an honest review.
I loved The Dressmaker's Secret. This was the first Lorna Cook novel that I have read, and I found myself glued to this story. I know a great deal about the Holocaust and the treatment of Jews in Vichy France. I had also read briefly about Coco Channel, but I felt that I learned so much more by reading this novel. The Dressmaker's Secret was a nice combination of history and romance, with the greater emphasis on history. It was easy to see all the research that hd gone into writing this novel. The characters were compelling and the way that the novel unfolded created tension enough to keep me reading into the night.
As is often the case with contemporary novels, The Dressmaker's Secret shifts between two time periods. Cook did a nice job of shifting between narrators and time periods. I had no trouble following the narration and shifting between time periods.
Although this is my first Lorna Cook novel, it will not be my last. I appreciate that the author and publisher provided this ARC, and although I am obligated to write a review, I have no trouble recommending this novel. One of the great benefits of NetGalley providing access to so many wonderful novels is the opportunity to discover new authors. I will be looking for Cook's previous novels.
I have seem to have read a lot of books set in Paris recently. This one was simply stunning though. Assistant to Coco Chanel we follow Adele through her daily life in war torn Paris. A really gripping novel that holds your attention. Really enjoyable read.
Wonderful read! I’ve read several books about CoCo Chanel and this one ranks at the top. Highly recommend if you love WWII history!
When the Germans invaded France, most Parisians fled. However, Mademoiselle Chanel chose to remain in the occupied city, living at the Hotel Ritz where the German military officers were living. Cook’s story starts in the summer of 1941 where Chanel meets a high-ranking German attaché of the German embassy in Paris, Baron Hans Gunter von Dinklage, at the Ritz and ends in 1945, with a brief epilogue about her death in 1971.
Readers enter Coco’s world for four years and immerse themselves in wartime Paris, The Ritz, secrets, lies, love and resistance. A unique perspective, Coco’s life is told through the eyes of her ladies’ maid, Adele Fabron. Although Coco had a luxurious apartment above her shop across the street, she’d been living in the Ritz since 1937. Adele is hired in 1941 as a live-in ladies’ maid after an accidental meeting and as the narrative progresses, readers are privy to Coco and Adele’s secrets. You’ll find out why Coco collaborated with the Nazis, why a precious 1647 painting by Charles Le Brun was found in her suite at the Ritz, how she was able to regain full monetary control of her company from her Jewish partners, as well as discover why Adele wants to keep her extracurricular activities to herself, and if she can attain happiness and love after the war.
To expose Coco’s secret life, Cook has chosen to present this story as a dual timeline and uses Chloe’s quest in 2018 to slowly reveal the secrets behind the doors of No. 302, The Coco Chanel Suite at the Ritz Paris. I was surprised that Cook chose not to add much emotion nor a sense of the luxurious lifestyle I was expecting to read about; however, the beautifully executed dual timeline and the surprise twist more than made up for any shortcomings. Chloe has ties to Paris, The Ritz and to Coco Chanel, so you’ll have to read to find out why she is able to shed a light on the fashion icon’s life and see if what Chloe uncovers while in Paris has the potential to help solve her present problems.
Since 1999 the records the French secret service kept on celebrities they deemed suspicious have been declassified and authors and journalists are sharing what they’ve gleaned from accessing the documents. I’ve enjoyed ‘The Chanel Sisters’ by Judith Little which is written from Coco’s younger sister’s point of view and reveals Coco’s rise to fame. I also have (unread at this point) The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin and Mademoiselle Chanel by CW Gortner. Although the focus is the same, each author brings out different aspects of this enigmatic fashion icon’s secret life. I'm sure as research continues into these declassified documents, we'll have more books published, giving us a deeper look into Coco Chanel.
Publishes January 27, 2022.
I was gifted this advance copy by Lorna Cook, Avon Books UK, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
Lorna Cook has unearthed another unusual aspect of WW 2 history as the basis for this absorbing novel. The eponymous dressmaker is Adele, Chloe's grandmother, who is unwilling to speak of her experiences during the war when she worked for Coco Chanel. Chloe travels to Paris to see what she can discover. This is a very satisfying story with an unexpected twist that had me gripped from beginning to end.
I loved this book. In fact it made me cry tears of happiness at the end. Adele us working for Coco Chanel in Paris during the Second World War and falls in love with an American doctor who disappears when America enters the war. Adele’s granddaughter goes to Paris after her divorce to find out what she can glean about her grandmothers life. It’s amazingly well written and the story flows along. I loved everything about it. Fantastic
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an e ARC of this book.
A compelling, interesting read. I was aware of much about Chanel's history during this time but not the extent of her Nazi involvement and other facts. I was fascinated and found the book hard to put down.
The Dressmakers Secret by Lorna Cook explores Coco Chanel’s dark days as a proven Nazi collaborator through her fictional wartime assistant. Much of the dual-timeline story focuses on Adele’s activities in occupied Paris, as she becomes aware of her employer’s actions and quietly rebels against them. Losing the job would turn her out into the streets, homeless, with no family, yet she can’t condone Chanel’s distasteful proclivities. She thus defies danger to align with an attractive American doctor who supports the resistance.
In modern-day, Adele’s granddaughter visits Paris and learns about Chanel’s backstory. As her grandmother never speaks of those days, she’s determined to discover which side she supported. Chloe is also on a journey of personal discovery, seeking new directions following a divorce.
The Dressmakers Secret is a well-researched novel weaving romance and suspense / mystery around both storylines. From a vintage clothing angle, Chanel is an undisputable icon. But history also should rightly reflect her war-time actions. Cook’s nuanced presentation doesn’t condemn the couturier, but illuminates her self-absorbed, human frailties.
Thanks to Netgalley and Avon Books UK for the opportunity to read this compelling story.
Interesting and engaging read. Not a story I had heard before. Kept you guessing with the alternations between past and present. Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!
Adele travels to Paris to find work, she’s an orphan and was raised by nuns in a convent at St. Nazaire, and by chance she becomes Coco Chanel’s private secretary. Due to the threat of another war, Coco closes her fashion house, she sacks all of her seamstresses and Adele’s very lucky to keep her job. Coco moves into The Ritz, Adele’s given a small room and is in charge of her employers; correspondence, meetings, her belongings and packs Madame’s suitcases when she travels. Adele finds living at The Ritz rather intimidating, especially when high ranking German officers move in, Coco begins socializing with them and dating a much younger man.
Adele feels guilty, so many French people are going hungry, and she has a safe place to stay and plenty of food. Adele decides to donate blood, on the way to the hospital she witnesses a Jewish woman being arrested and she’s shocked. Dr Theo Dixon is working for the American Red Cross, he draws Adele’s blood, and he’s an inspiration to Adele. They become friends, Theo's involved in the resistance and Adele decides she can no longer watch from the sidelines.
The Dressmaker’s Secret has a dual timeline is goes between Adele’s story in wartime Paris and her granddaughter Chloe moving to Paris in the present time and she’s having her version of a gap year.
Chloe’s marriage has ended after five unhappy years, she’s decides to rent a little apartment in Paris, and help out her friend who owns a vintage clothes shop. Chloe’s interested in Coco Chanel, her grandmother worked for her during the 1940’s and Adele attends an auction of antique items from The Ritz. Here she meets Etienne, he’s an art dealer, has an interested in history, and single. He and Chloe start talking, she had no idea that Coco was friendly with the Nazi’s, and information was recently released confirmed she was a Nazi sympathizer, and she visited Berlin several times during the war. Chloe’s grandmother hasn’t spoken about the war years, with help from Etienne she starts looking at old archives, she’s very concerned about what she will find and could her sweet grandmother have been a collaborator?
I received a copy of The Dressmaker’s Secret from NetGalley and Avon Books in exchange for an honest review, the story is full of mystery, intrigue, wartime secrets and romance. For Chloe’s character it’s about moving forward from her divorce, feeling free, and discovering how brave her beloved grandmother was during the war. Lorna Cook decided to write her book based on what Coco Chanel really did during the war, she combines the truth about the famous collaborator and with a narrative about two strong and courageous women and five stars from me.
How well does one know their past and family’s history? That is a question that Chloe seeks to answer as she sets out on a journey to uncover her grandmother Adele’s role and involvement with Coco Chanel and Germans during World War II. The novel presents a dual timeframe, Chloe, a recently divorced woman who embarks on a year of self-discovery and growth in Paris during present-day and Adele (Chloe’s grandmother) and assistant to Coco Chanel during World War II and the German occupation of Paris. Adele lived with Coco Chanel in the Ritz surrounded by Nazis forcing her to question her loyalties, morals, humanity, and conscience.
This is a story of struggle, hardship, survival, loyalty, heartbreak, love, loss, and hope. The author takes the reader on an emotional journey and does an excellent job with creating strong and inspiring female lead characters. The characters are well-developed, and the author does a wonderful job of portraying the characters thoughts, feelings, emotions, and insecurities making them likeable and relatable. The dual storyline transitions back and forth seamlessly and the reader is actively engaged in both past and present storylines. The novel is well researched and thought provoking forcing the reader to examine the characters choices, dilemmas, and behaviors throughout the novel.
Much of the novel focuses on Coco Chanel and her life before and during World War II. The author’s presentation of Coco Chanel through the eyes of her assistant offered a unique look at Coco Chanel and her actions and possible motivations surrounding them. It is an interesting examination of a fashion icon and how war touched the lives of all people no matter their standing in life.
This novel keeps you on the edge of your seat and forces the reader to question issues of loyalty and how far a person will go to survive during times of war. It highlights true strength and acts of heroism and humanity. The author does a wonderful job of bringing the stories together in an interesting and heartwarming way towards the end of the novel connecting the two stories. The reader is left with feelings of love, hope, and new beginnings.
This novel is captivating and was a quick and enjoyable read. Both stories were engaging and kept the readers attention. Often, readers favor one storyline over the other, however here the stories are equally satisfying filled with interest, intrigue, heartbreak, and hope. The reader is filled with suspense while they wait to discover who Adele and Coco Chanel were during World War II and the roles they played respectively during time of war. The ending is surprising and a nice touch of pulling the storylines together bringing closure.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest feedback.
A wonderfully written, thoroughly researched dual timeline story set in Paris.
Chloe has moved to Paris for an adult ‘gap year’ following the breakup of her marriage to Rob. She is working in a small dress shop, selling classic pre-loved clothes. Visiting an auction she meets Etienne, a gallery owner. During conversation, she discovers he had relatives who worked as seamstresses for the famous Coco Chanel. Chloe’s grandmother Adele worked for her too, as her assistant. Chloe is intrigued by this connected past. Her grandmother has never talked about her years in Paris during the Second World War when she lived in the Ritz Hotel with the famous couturier. Their conversation has piqued her curiosity and she is determined to find out more.
I loved this book. I almost felt as if I stepped into the story. 1940s Paris is very skilfully captured – the deprivation, the fear and the way the Nazis took over the city, endeavouring to change it to suit their own agenda. Contrast this with the description of present-day Paris; a vibrant city, with its restaurants, museums and architecture. I almost wanted to pack my bags and book a ticket on the Eurostar! One of the most difficult things must have been to bring to life such a well-known character as Coco Chanel, but Lorna Cook has done it wonderfully well.
The story concentrates mainly on Adele’s young life and at times is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Adele treads a treacherous path when she becomes involved with the handsome American doctor Alex Dixon, who is aiding the French Resistance. I found myself hoping for a happy ending but fearing the worst.. Chloe and Etienne’s story wraps itself gently around Adele’s, giving the reader another romance to speculate about. I loved the scene where he cooked for her at his apartment. He was quite an enigma but just the sort of man Chloe needed after her divorce.
I have loved every book Lorna has written, but for me, this has to be the best one yet and well worth the five stars I have given it.
My thanks to Netgalley, Avon and Lorna Cook for an ARC of The Dressmaker’s Secret in exchange for an honest review.
The Dressmaker's Secret is a dual timeline set in Paris during WWII and the present time. Lorna Cook writes about the Nazis occupying Paris and then people began to disappear. The backdrop of the war seeped into everything and changed the world, including the lives of the characters in this story. We read of loss, love, desperation and hope.
Adele, assistant to Coco Chanel, was poor and orphaned when she landed her job. Though in a privileged position, she was unaccustomed to Chanel's obscenely luxurious lifestyle, especially during the war. Her salary did not allow extras and she clung to her few belongings. Meanwhile, super rich Chanel was sleeping with the enemy but Adele was not paid to question her motives. Disgusted by the Nazis hauling off Jews and sympathizers, Adele decided to help. In doing so, she embarked on an adventure she would never had imagined.
Present-day Chloe moved from London to Paris and wishes to discover more about her grandmother Adele's life. She knows about her job with Chanel but everything else is glossed over. She is shocked to discover Nazi connections in her background. Along the way, she makes friends and becomes enamoured with one of them....and with Paris.
In the back the author describes her interesting inspiration for this book. I did not realize Chanel was involved in the war and read about this further. Cook beautifully ties the historical and modern stories together.
My sincere thank you to Avon Books UK and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this enthralling story.
This is a lovely, romantic but also serious historical fiction story about Adele, an orphan who finishes her convent education and moves to Paris where she lands a job as Coco Chanel's assistant. Their gadabout traveling life has been disrupted by the Nazi occupation of Paris. Chanel closes her fashion house, selling only her fragrances during wartime. They move into the Ritz, which has been taken over and occupied by Nazi officers. Cook tells this story from Adele's perspective, as she learns more about what the Nazis stand for, observes people being taken from their homes, never to be seen again, learns bits and pieces about the resistance and a lot about Chanel's political as well as romantic involvement with the Germans. Along the way, Adele meets and befriends an American doctor, seeks help from him when she takes an impulsive action that could cause her serious trouble, and she must confront her own roles, always on the periphery, in facilitating Chanel's problematic behavior as well as the doctor's dangerous resistance related behavior. The Dressmaker's Secret also is about Chloe, Adele's British granddaughter. It is 2018 and Chloe, recently divorced after a short lived, loveless marriage, moves to Paris for a year. She helps a friend from university run her boutique, as her friend just had a baby and needs help. Adele has shared with her grandchildren that she worked for Coco Chanel for five years, but never discussed the experience of living in Paris during the war. Chloe learns that evidence came out some years ago confirming longstanding rumors about Chanel: She collaborated with the Nazis. Was her grandmother complicit? As she visits places her grandmother lived and worked and researches the files on Chanel, Chloe needs to learn the truth. Adele is 97 and time is short. Lorna Cook is a wonderful writer. She tells Chanel's story during the period well and consistently with what I already knew about this. Adele, an imagined character is a sympathetic person, an employee, yet in some ways the person who knows more about Chanel than anyone. Her conflicting feelings about Chanel, about her own privilege in having food and a safe place to stay, about the doctor's extracurricular work and whether she should be doing more are compelling. A fast and enjoyable read.
This is a great historical drama/romance set mainly in Paris. My first read from this author as I normally shy away from books with a strong romance bent but I was drawn to the because of the Coco Chanel connection; and I’m so glad I did. This was a fabulous story, written in two timelines - 1941 during the German occupation of Paris and the present.
Briefly, in 1941 Adèle, an orphan brought up by nuns, is working as an assistant to Coco Chanel and living in the Ritz hotel. When she meets and falls in love with an American doctor she also becomes embroiled in helping his work for the resistance. With Coco Chanel living openly with a German officer Adèle is playing a dangerous game. In the present Adèle’s granddaughter is recently divorced and has gone to Paris as a ‘year out’. When she meets the rather mysterious Etienne he offers to help her investigate her grandmother’s past, but is she prepared to hear the truth?
I was completely unaware of Chanel’s collaboration with the Nazi’s and the depth to which she had been prepared to go to maintain her lifestyle regardless of the effect on others. The two stories meet seamlessly at the end with two big reveals, one of which I was expecting, the other I wasn’t. A really enjoyable read ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
#TheDressMakersSecret by @lornacookauthor
Well I must say I’m mightily impressed with this read - not only was it a great story; it incorporated everything I love - a duel timeline, real history, a great plot with realistic and relatable characters. I think the Cook did a great job of depicting this largely unknown piece of history; she really made you care for the characters, especially Adele, and experience the horrors and the joys along side them. Although to some extent you knew what direction the book was going to take, I still felt it was very atmospheric, held the tension of the plot and had my on the edge of my seat at one point! 😉
I found it easy and enjoyable to read. The duel timelines ran seemly and I was sad to finish the book - I felt I could of carried on enjoying Adele’s story for a lot longer!
With thanks to #Netgalley, author #LornaCook, #AvonBooks for allowing me to read this one early!
OUT: Jan 27th
This book had me hooked from the first chapter to the last page truly enjoyed it. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley
I absolutely loved this story! I picked this book because of the beautiful cover in addition to the description. The first two chapters had me second guessing myself for a minute, but then Adele made an appearance and from then on the twists and turns kept me guessing how the story would end.
This is set during WWII and the story focuses on the life of Adele during her time as a personal assistant/secretary to Coco Chanel. As I read through the story, it was heartbreaking to think of the things many women had to do to survive, and what others did to help the few Jews they could save.
Adele and Theo’s love story broke my heart, and I just adored how a book and a little girl led them to each other when everyone thought all was lost. The bit about Chanel collaborating with the Nazis was eye opening, and had me rethink about how much I’ve wanted a Chanel purse. Also, I didn’t know this is how Chanel N0 5 became famous—or maybe this is a bit of fiction the author worked in. Anyhow, there’s no doubt that Chanel’s involvement in the war happened.
I also loved how the author worked Chloe and Ettiene’s story and how Ettiene is connected to the women Adele had seen during reprisals.
Seriously, this is a MUST read. Grab some tissues before you dive in… you’ll need them.
Wow! I love learning something new about history. I had no idea of the role Coco Chanel played during the war.
This story is a dual timeline that follows Adele and her time in Paris during WWII. She is the assistant to CoCo Chanel who lives in The Ritz Hotel among all the high ranking Nazi officials. While Chanel is wined and dined by the Nazi’s Adele is uncomfortable with the Nazi views and unsure of her employers role in all of it.
Present day follows Chloe, Adele’s granddaughter who has just gone through a divorce and goes to Paris to find out more about her grandmothers past. She visits an auction for The Ritz Hotel in hopes of getting a momento for her grandmother who lived at The Ritz with her employer during the occupation. Is she ready for where this trip will lead and what she will find out about her grandmother?
At points of the book I was practically jumping up and down and the next minute I was near tears. What an emotional page turner and a very well researched look at life in Paris during WWII.
I can’t wait to read more from this author!
Thanks to Net Galley and Avon books UK for the advanced copy.
This is a dual timeline novel written by Lorna Cook.
Adele who is an orphan comes to Paris and got an assistant job with the famous dress designer Coco Chanel soon the WWII broke and how she becomes the part of Chanel's life in the Occupation in France .
In 2018 Adele's granddaughter Chloe moved to Paris and tried to know her grandmother's life in Paris. There she met some interesting man which was rather interested in learning that too.
This novel has everything fashion, glamour,love,romance and an exciting story revolving around the War
This is a different take on WWII books that I have read and definitely a gripping one.
Cook shares interesting research from WW2 occupied Paris, with Coco Chanel at the center. Adele’s character and story is wonderful. I enjoyed the glimpse into what life with Chanel at the Ritz might have been like. Every interaction with the Nazi soldiers and the gestapo had me on the edge of my seat.
Chloe’s search for answers many years later is not as gripping, but wraps up perfectly.
Advanced reader copy courtesy of the publishers at NetGalley for review.
Chloe has always wondered exactly what her French grandmother Adele did during WW2. All she knew was that Adele worked for Coco Chanel and lived in the Ritz with her during the German occupation of Paris. Her grandmother has always reused to talk about the past.
Chloe is now working in Paris and wants to find out more about her grandmother. She attends an auction of furniture and objects from the Ritz hotel and starts talking to a man called Etienne.
Chloe tells him she is there because her grandmother worked for Coco Chanel and she wants to know more about her. He asks her if she know that Coco Chanel was a collaborator and possibly a spy during the war and that Chloe might not like what she finds out about her grandmother.
Chloe is amazed by this news and starts to question what Adele did do while working for Chanel, did she work for the Germans as well ?
We then go back to the war years and find out from Adele exactly what she did and what it was like living and working for Coco Chanel .
This is such a good read. I had recently read another fiction story based on facts about Coco Chanel's life from childhood right up to the war so this book was so interesting to read next.
It was amazing how Coco could manipulate everyone she met and yet keep herself so mysterious.
She came from such a humble background, an orphan brought up in a Covent leaving it with only the clothes on her back. When she made her money she didn't seem to have any sympathy for anyone who was poor or needy she expected them to work no matter what the circumstances. She also payed her staff a pittance.
Coco lived in luxury at the Ritz during the occupation of Paris and acted like a queen while partying with the Nazis high ranking soldiers.
Your heart will be in your mouth reading this book. I feared for Adele and wondered when her activities would be questioned. I cried too but I loved the ending.
Lorna Cook always gives us a good read and this book is no exception. Loved it.
Our Closest Enemies are Within Us
A dual timeline with two stories. The story of the Grandmother Adele during WWII and the second story is that of her granddaughter many years later traveling to Paris to escape a recent divorce and hoping to find information on her grandmother and her employer Coco Chanel during WWII.
The year is 1941, the place is the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France. Adele lives there with her employer Coco Chanel. Adele is thankful for her job , but never agrees with her employers collaboration with the Nazi's. Living under the same roof with high ranking Nazi's she is constantly on edge. When she meets an American doctor and works for the resistance she must make a choice between loyalty to her employer and the life of her loved one.
Years later as Chloe and Rob divorce she escapes to Paris and finds a job in a dress shop. She wants to find out about her grandmother's time in Paris during WWII, but she doesn't know where to start. While at a museum she meets an art director and as they become friends she learns that his mother worked as a seamstress for Coco Chanel before the war. Together they dig into the war time records to find the past and the truth of Coco Chanel's wartime activities and the past of her grandmother who was working for her during the war.
I enjoyed reading about the famous buildings, parks and museums in Paris. The Ritz Hotel sounded like a very extravagant place. It all sounded like a beautiful city marred by the boots of the Nazi soldiers. I enjoyed both of the stories told, they were both interesting and engaging. The characters were true to life and very well staged in the story.
This book was a good read and I would recommend it.
Thanks to Lorna Cook for writing a great story, to Avon Books, U.K. for publishing it and to NetGalley for making it available to me.
Combining one of the most tense periods in Parisian history - the time Hitler swept into Paris and took it over
completely and the shock of the average French person who could not believe this unimaginable thing that befell
their country. The story also featured the enigmatic and controversial Coco Chanel - herself described as a
collaborator but one who was very clever at disguising the truth and who eventually got away with the whole thing.
The main story however is about Adele, Chanel's assistant who from very humble beginnings started work as an
assistant to Chanel and when the occupation of Paris happened became a jack of all trades for Chanel, her right
hand man almost handling all Chanel's work and thus knowing much more of her activities than anyone else did.
Adele was horrified at the proximity of the Nazis at the Ritz Hotel where Chanel lived and the fact that Chanel
actively participated in all Nazi social gatherings. Chanel was a survivor and her way was to join them rather
than fight them. Adele was swept into it because she had no other option. Being an orphan she had no home to go to
but her meeting an American doctor brought her love and help in a great way for the one act of Resistance she did.
Finding and keeping a Jewish infant (an act which would have brought instant death if discovered) she provided
a refuge for the child and Dr. Dixon helped her out in this.
The story continues with Dr Dixon's disappearance in a raid and the end of all Adele's hopes for the future. The end
of the story was a happy one and a totally unexpected one.
The story however has a dual timeline and we also face Chloe who is in fact Adele's grand daughter. She has taken a gap
year and works in Paris. Never knowing anything about her French ancestry and what Adele did during the war, she is
now drawn into the story of where her grandmother worked, and finding a friend who is more knowledgeable than she is
she starts on unraveling the story of Adele and Chanel.
WW stories are so sad, so emotional in so many aspects the fact that this ended well years later was something that
was different and very pleasing to read.
The story of Chanel was as much a part of the story as Adele's story and this added a great deal of impact to the
The story of Chloe in present times and her part in bringing a story that remained buried for decades (Adele's story)
was a part of this story.
I really enjoyed this dual timeline book, set in Paris in the present day and the 1940s when the Nazis were in occupation. And who knew that Coco Chanel was a Nazi spy?!
The 1940s were about Adele, who worked for Coco Chanel just before and during the war. She had been orphaned, brought up in a convent and luckily had managed to get a job with Chanel when she was old enough to leave the convent and came looking for work in Paris and to improve herself. But then the war happened, and again she was lucky enough to be the only member of staff Chanel kept on, both of them living in The Ritz in Paris, a luxury compared to what was happening in the rest of Paris. Chanel was looking after herself and had a German lover, keeping her relatively safe.
Whilst there Adele met an American doctor, Theo, who whilst working at a hospital in Paris also secretly helped injured airmen, or those trying to escape the Nazis, putting his life in danger but something he felt he had to do. Adele also helped him slightly with this, whilst they slowly fell in love. But it was war and anything could happen, and often did, so they promised to wait to be together until after the war was over.
Present day we have Chloe, Adele's granddaughter, recently divorced and having a year out for herself away from her life in England, working at a friend's vintage clothes shop in Paris, and slowly getting her life together again. Then she meets Etienne at an auction of items from The Ritz in the 1940s and through him learns a lot more about what happened in the war, and with her grandmother, who has always been very quiet about what actually happened.
An absolutely fascinating story of life in Paris and, through a lot of actual documents unearthed, we find out that Coco Chanel was working for the Nazis, but it seems mainly to keep herself safe, she didn't have any particular allegiance to anyone but herself, maybe because she also was an orphan and had to struggle for everything she achieved. I suppose who knows what any of us would have done living in a daily life or death situation like that, survival of the fittest I supose, but I don't think I could have been like her. But she always seemed to just get away with everything.
A riveting story that I couldn't put down, and even better there was a happy ending after all the atrocities that had been happening. Highly recommended.
I'm nearly at a loss of words with this book. Just absolute perfection by Lorna Cook. I love historical fiction with a dual timeline! I loved the amount of research and passion that so clearly went into this book to help reveal some fascinating hidden history! I learnt so much and am now completely fascinated by Coco Chanel's WW2 history! I never knew! I don't want to give anything away, of course, but this book shocked me!
My emotions ran the full course in this book, there was suspense, romance, deep sadness, loss, and surprisingly a lot of happiness.
The ending. THE ENDING. I cried my eyes out, I was a blubbering mess trying to quickly explain the entire book to my husband while crying. Goosebumps. Sheer goosebumps. Thank you Lorna Cook, thank you for writing this.
I cannot thank netgalley and Avon Books UK enough for allowing me the privilege to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book turned out much differently Than what I had anticipated. It’s an excellent read. I have read a lot of both fiction and non fiction about Chanel’s life. I liked,the approach Cook took with the Information. I loved all the history interwoven within the story. The scene in Kensington Gardens was like something straight out of a movie. The end scene will make readers catch their breath.
While taking a gap year in Paris, Chloe finds herself at the auction of the infamous Ritz Hotel. Her ties to the legendary building are strange, her grandmother lived there during the war as the assistance to the famed designer Coco Chanel. But…Chloe doesn’t know much more than that. It’s thanks to charismatic Etienne, whose interest in Chanel and her history, that Chloe begins to question her own grandmothers experience during the war. With new documents being released and the idea that Chanel had collaborated with the Nazis, Chloe began to wonder if her grandmother did too. Set in dual timelines of occupied Paris in 1941 and 2018, this is a terrific story of what the people of Paris went through to survive.
I loved this story. I was already somewhat aware of Chanel’s actions during WWII but was intrigued to know more. So this story was a great source of information set against a terrific coming of age story set during the war. It’s a lesson of right and wrong, of good and evil, of heroism and betrayal. I couldn’t put it down. I also loved that the author includes a “for further reading” list in her notes at the end. You can only get so far with google and they serve as an nice reference.
Thank you to NetGalley, Avon Books UK and Lorna Cook for early access to this great story! What a good book to kick of my 2022 reading journey!
Recently I’ve read a few books set in wartime Paris, and this is one of the best, keeping me guessing and my heart racing, from start to finish. Right from first page I was invested in Adele and Chloe’s stories, especially the turbulent days of the occupation. Though never shying away from how grim life was, how fear lurked everywhere, the bravery, heart and determination to survive, especially from the women, shines as bright as The Ritz likely did. This is a book to race through, to keep you up at night for just one more page, and to make you bite your nails with the tension. And as for those endings - so perfectly and beautifully plotted. Spot on!
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