Book Review (+Giveaway!): The Seamstress

18 Feb

About the Book

Title: The Seamstress

Author: Allison Pittman

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Tyndale

A beautifully crafted story breathes life into the cameo character from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities.

France, 1788
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.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

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.

My Impressions:

Inspired by a minor character in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, The Seamstress by Allison Pittman could be described as a tale of two cousins — orphans raised by a guardian in the tumultuous times leading up to and including the French Revolution. Pittman takes on the daunting task of creating an entire story for not only the seamstress that Sydney Carton encounters, but also for the cousin left behind in the country and produces a story that will captivate your heart and mind. Renee and Laurette, who have shared so much in their young lives, embark on very different journeys in search of purpose in the dark times in which they live. Famine for the poor and excess in the aristocrats are on a collision course that leads to violence. Such is the time period the book explores; a time of starvation, desperation, anger, and vengeance. The two cousins come to know first hand the two sides of the conflict — revolutionaries and royalty. And though both are swept into the larger drama around them, they are separate from the forces at work.

The Seamstress is a beautifully written book as complex as the time period in which it is set. Renee’s story is written in first person, while Laurette’s is a third person narrative. Secondary characters greatly influence them and their decisions. Marie Antoinette plays a large part in Renee’s life, and I appreciate the care Pittman took in fleshing out her character. There are also three important men in the novel who play pivotal roles in Renee and Laurette’s lives. My absolute favorite is Gagnon, the man who takes the two in when they are orphaned. His tender care for them and the freedom he gives the two to choose their paths, is reminiscent of the father of the Prodigal. His unconditional love and forgiveness reflect the father and the Father. Interestingly, the town from which the girls venture forth is called Mouton Blanc (White Sheep) with a church styled the Church of The Lost Sheep. Loss is great during this turbulent time (children, spouses, innocence), but also much is gained. I am still pondering the truths expressed.

The Seamstress is not a quick or easy read. It is a book to take your time with. There are spiritual threads that are subtly woven that a reader will want to take time to think about. I also think this novel would make an excellent choice for a book club. It is definitely one to talk about.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Tyndale and Celebrate Lit for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, February 9

The Lit Addict, February 9

The Power of Words, February 9

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis & Christ Collide, February 10

Lis Loves Reading, February 10

Maureen’s Musings, February 10

Carpe Diem, February 11

A Baker’s Perspective, February 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 12

Emily Yager, February 12

Mary Hake, February 12

Stories By Gina, February 13

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 13

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 13

Inspired by fiction, February 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 14

Remembrancy, February 14

Through the Fire Blogs, February 15

Seasonsofopportunities, February 15

Inspiration Clothesline, February 15

Books, Books, and More Books, February 16

Inklings and Notions, February 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 16

Bibliophile Reviews, February 17

Texas Book-aholic, February 17

Margaret Kazmierczak, February 18

A Reader’s Brain, February 18

By The Book, February 18

Multifarious, February 19

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 19

Pause for Tales, February 19

Bigreadersite, February 20

Simple Harvest Reads, February 20

Janices book reviews, February 20

For the Love of Books, February 21

Book by Book, February 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 22

To Everything A Season, February 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 22

Giveaway

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

14 Responses to “Book Review (+Giveaway!): The Seamstress”

  1. Paula Shreckhise February 18, 2019 at 10:44 am #

    This one looks so intriguing. One of my favorites is A Tale of Two Cities. Thanks for the review and interview.

    Like

  2. Kay Garrett February 18, 2019 at 11:35 am #

    Thank you for your review on “The Seamstress” by Allison Pittman and for being part of the book tour. Sounds like a book that I would definitely enjoy having the opportunity to read.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    Like

  3. Barbara H. February 18, 2019 at 11:40 am #

    A Tale of Two Cities is one of my top two all-time favorite novels, so this piques my interest!

    Like

    • rbclibrary February 18, 2019 at 1:50 pm #

      You definitely need to give it a look, then.

      Like

  4. pattymh2000 February 18, 2019 at 2:52 pm #

    I look forward to reading the story of these two cousins. I’ve heard many good things about this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rita Wray February 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm #

    Sounds like a good book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Winterville First Baptist Church Media Center February 19, 2019 at 10:03 am #

    I’ve always love A Tale of Two Cities and this book sounds amazing too. I find author’s inspirations for writing a book so interesting. Ms. Pittman is a true word artist if she can pick up those two sentences from a nameless character and think…this would make a great story! Amazing!
    Debbie Lester

    Liked by 1 person

    • Allison February 23, 2019 at 10:15 am #

      Thank you for such a lovely, thoughtful review! I had so much fun crafting Marie Antoinette. I don’t think she was anywhere near the monster history paints her to be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rbclibrary February 23, 2019 at 1:38 pm #

        I enjoyed your take on her. Although towards the end I was frustrated by her. But she and her family were in danger. I’ll cut her some slack! 😉

        Like

  7. carylkane February 19, 2019 at 8:00 pm #

    The Seamstress sounds fascinating! Thank you for participating in the tour.

    Liked by 1 person

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