The Seamstress of New Orleans

A Fascinating Novel of Southern Historical Fiction

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Pub Date 31 May 2022 | Archive Date 07 Jun 2022
Kensington Books, A John Scognamiglio Book

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Set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century, the acclaimed author’s mesmerizing historical novel tells of two strangers separated by background but bound by an unexpected secret—and of the strength and courage women draw from and inspire in each other.

“An undercurrent of New Orleans’s dark side propels the story, heightening the tension and supplying McPhail with a wealth of evocative details.” – Publishers Weekly

The year 1900 ushers in a new century and the promise of social change, and women rise together toward equality. Yet rules and restrictions remain, especially for women like Alice Butterworth, whose husband has abruptly disappeared. Desperate to make a living for herself and the child she carries, Alice leaves the bitter cold of Chicago far behind, offering sewing lessons at a New Orleans orphanage.

Constance Halstead, a young widow reeling with shock under the threat of her late husband’s gambling debts, has thrown herself into charitable work. Meeting Alice at the orphanage, she offers lodging in exchange for Alice’s help creating a gown for the Leap Year ball of Les Mysterieuses, the first all‑female krewe of Mardi Gras. During Leap Years, women have the rare opportunity to take control in their interactions with men, and upend social convention. Piece by piece, the breathtaking gown takes shape, becoming a symbol of strength for both women, reflecting their progress toward greater independence.

But Constance carries a burden that makes it impossible to feel truly free. Her husband, Benton, whose death remains a dangerous mystery, was deep in debt to the Black Hand, the vicious gangsters who controled New Orleans’ notorious Storyville district. Benton’s death has not satisfied them. And as the Mardi Gras festivities reach their fruition, a secret emerges that will cement the bond between Alice and Constance even as it threatens the lives they’re building . . .
Set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century, the acclaimed author’s mesmerizing historical novel tells of two strangers separated by background but...

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Featured Reviews

I am thrilled to write a review for this fantastic book! Most movies and books honestly do not really "get" New Orleans correct when they try to tell a story about this city. This author Diane C. McPhail has written a book that captures the essence of New Orleans. It also has wonderful friendships between women who want to support and lift other women to achieve. It definitely shows how difficult it was to be a woman when her worth was not appreciated.

Having been taught to sew by my mother, and it is a gift I cherish, I found so much to relate to in this story. Alice is a seamstress, learning that skill from her mother and it is her saving grace. The loving mother/daughter bond is a major theme throughout the book.

I usually read contemporary romance, or women's fiction, but I am so happy that I ventured out my comfort zone to read this Historical Fiction book. It is a book I will be highly recommending to everyone and think it would be ideal for a book club. Lots to discuss after reading it!

I want to thank Kensington Books and NetGalley for giving me the immense pleasure of reading the advance reader copy, with no obligation to write a review. My review is written freely as a hobby, and is totally my own opinion, not influenced by receiving the ARC.

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