The Seamstress

The Seamstress

by Allison Pittman

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781414390468
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 363,717
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author


As far as I know, I have always been a writer. Before I could put words to page, I would dictate stories to my mother. I have always lulled myself to sleep by crafting stories--a new chapter each night. When God called me to write, I was thrilled to answer His prompting. And so it was, after a long conversation with my husband, I left a 20-year teaching career to pursue a new direction. It called for a HUGE step of faith, but God has kept me and our family safe.

I count every single one of my readers as one of God's blessings in my life, and I like to think of my stories as being the first step in a conversation. Please visit my website, www.allisonpittman.com and send me an email. It is one of my greatest joys to hear from you!

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

L'épisode 1

Renée

MOUTON BLANC, LA VALLÉE

My first and last memories are my cousin Laurette. She wasn't quite three years old when I came into the world, but her arms were sturdy enough to hold me, and my mother never missed an opportunity to thrust me upon her. Laurette's was the breath on my cheek as we slept, curled together on the tiny mat in the corner of our tattered house. She spoke the nightmares away, softened my bread with milk, entertained me for hours on end with a knotted string and games of cat's cradle.

Our mothers were sisters, sharing a house on the fringe of our village — Mouton Blanc, named for the white sheep that produced fine, prized wool. Our family never owned any sheep of their own. We had no farm, no land. Only two rooms and a fire, but subsisted on the prosperity of the town. Laurette and I grew up smelling their roasting meat, and shared tiny portions cooked in stew. We walked through the bustling market square, past baskets overflowing with harvest, watching our mothers trade small coins for the remnants hidden behind the merchants. The yeasty smell of the baker's shop meant a fresh, hot loaf of bread, and a crossed bun handed over the counter for the two of us to share, bite by bite.

My father was unknown to me, and if my mother knew his name, she never uttered it. I was given no fanciful tale about a dashing stranger, or a wandering minstrel, or a farmer's son overtaken by desire. I asked once if I could call Laurette's father my own, as we shared the same roof and table, but was delivered a slap to my face that left the mark of my mother's hand for nearly a week. I never asked again. At the time (I was probably six years old) I assumed my mother reacted so harshly because she wouldn't want such a man for my father. My uncle was short-tempered and often drunk, quick to violence and raging. But then, as I grew older, I noticed the way he looked at my mother — she was the more beautiful of the two sisters — and having learned a bit about the workings of men and women, I wondered if I hadn't come close to guessing the truth.

Though our household was never prosperous, it was, for the most part, quiet. Content. Laurette's father worked for different farmers, hiring himself out during the shearing season and throughout the year, mending fences and whatever day labor he could get. Always, it was enough to feed us and allow him nights at the tavern to drink up the rest. Our mothers did village work, too, carding great sacks of wool, teaching both of us the art as soon as our hands were big enough to fit the wooden paddles. Laurette never mastered the skill, but I loved any moment my hands were occupied with creating. Mother would barter old clothes from the rag man, and spend winter evenings cutting and mending, turning women's skirts into boys' breeches and old nightshirts into christening gowns, edged with lace tatted from spinners' scraps.

I was too young to take note of all the changes as they happened. Realization dawned that we had less money. Less food. Less everything. I understood the years of drought and the toll they took on the local harvests, but I had no concept of the role the king played in the slow death of our town. I didn't know he took good grazing land and gave it to the Church. I didn't know he imposed taxes beyond what my neighbors could pay. Therefore, I didn't understand the hopelessness that would drive Laurette's father to kill her mother in a drunken rage, nor the hanging that left us equally fatherless. Even more, I could not fathom a grief that would cause my mother to simply walk away one night, leaving us equally orphaned. I was ten, Laurette was twelve, and we lived for nearly two months on the scraps of neighbors' charity before anyone else even knew she'd gone.

But Émile Gagnon found us. Rather, we found him. I would guess that his flock still numbered five hundred head at the time, and Laurette hoped we would find work — in his kitchen, in his fields. Winter was coming and we had nothing to fill our bellies or warm our hearth. We'd heard him one day at the inn, Le Cochon Gros, the same place that slaked my uncle's thirst and nourished his anger. Gagnon was lifting a toast to the fine price he'd fetched for his wool, wishing a blessing on the carders and spinners, the weavers and tailors who take the humble offerings of his sheep and make clothing fit for the king.

"Think of it, spun fine and stretched over the queen's legs ...," one of his fellow drinkers said, the rest of his comment spoken low and drowned out by raucous laughter.

It was Laurette who approached Gagnon. Looking back now, I realize what a young man he was. Everybody in town spoke of him with such glowing reverence, he might have been a founder. But he was only twenty-two — old enough to laugh at an off-color joke, but young enough to be embarrassed by it. He, too, was an orphan, if a grown man could be called such, having inherited his farm when his parents died in quick succession of a fever. Not a year later, he became a widower, losing his young wife and newborn child within an hour of each other. While some men might have turned bitter in the wake of so much loss, Émile Gagnon grew stronger.

He had turned away, a blush on his cheek, when Laurette walked right up to him.

"It's a fine thing," she said, "to ship everything away and leave nothing for your poor neighbors who are facing a winter with our dresses worn clean through."

That very evening we had a new home in Gagnon's barn. The small one, meant only to house his milk cows and dogs. It smelled of sweet hay and felt warm, with straw-stuffed ticks and feather pillows waiting in the loft. The walls were thick, the roof solid shingles, and while Gagnon said he wouldn't risk the danger of a stove to heat the room as we slept, we had the promise of hot irons during the coldest of winter nights.

For six years we have lived here. His sheep, our sheep, and this spring afternoon, Laurette and I lie next to each other, two shepherdesses stretched out on a carpet of green grass as they graze nearby.

* * *

"Your turn, Renée."

Laurette's voice is slow, the words almost slurred to a stop. I look over to see her arm flung across her eyes, blocking out the piercing sun.

"You're not even looking."

"I trust you." There's a hook of a smile at the corner of her mouth.

"All right." I turn my attention back to the vast sky above, dotted with clouds. "I see your rabbit." Pointing, the tip of my finger traces what could be a long, floppy ear. "But I'm afraid he's done for." I rise on one elbow and describe the mass of dark-gray clouds newly formed to the east. "Three dogs — or maybe one, like Cerberus."

"Cerberus?" Laurette never did pay as much attention to Gagnon's stories as I did.

"Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the gates of the underworld. Your little rabbit doesn't have a chance."

"Let them have it. They're probably hungry. I know I am."

I am, too, but I don't say so. Complaining about hunger is like complaining about being alive. It seems ungrateful, knowing we had our fill of bread and butter early this morning, and would find a good, filling bowl of soup upon our return. In between, we'd shared a flask of water and a boiled egg each.

"If only we could catch it," I say. "We could eat it ourselves, or most of it, anyway. And give the scraps to the dogs. Everyone, happy happy."

She lifts her arm enough to show me one open eye. "Even in fantasy you are practical."

I lie back down. "And even when there's nothing to be done you are lazy." She laughs, short and hearty, and I grin beside her. "Your turn."

"Non." She hums the word. "Why waste our time finding stories in the sky when we can drift off and find them in a dream?"

"Because we have to bring the sheep in."

"There's at least an hour before sunset." She settles in for comfort. "Do what you want with your time; I'll do what I want with mine."

Soft snores come within minutes, and I sit up, then stand up, brushing the dry grass from the back of my skirt. Looking out to the east, the same direction where my doglike pack of rain clouds seems to be gathering strength, I can just make out the white, woolly flock grazing on the horizon. More and more the air smells like rain, and I think it's best not to wait. Rain makes the sheep sluggish. Given the chance, they would stand still and turn into soggy statues.

Not far, a massive stone offers a better view, and I climb up, my bare feet gripping the smooth surface. Once standing, I bring two fingers to my mouth and whistle a distinct five-note command. Within seconds there is movement on the horizon. Two small, quick forms. Cossette and Copine, the dogs I helped train since their birth, are running in circles around the herd to gather it.

The herd is small now, little more than one hundred, and they move at a purposeful trot. The dogs flank them, taking on a pose that makes them look like two wolves stalking prey rather than beloved companions bringing them to safety. Thus, the sheep obey. I feel a certain pity, knowing that they live in a constant state of fear. Always feeling chased, hunted, watched. Ever alert and uneasy, their rest coming only when they are safely stabled in the yard. Or, better, in the barn, where the dogs sit as sentries outside, out of sight.

"You think they'd learn," I told Gagnon one afternoon when the sheep, grazing on the new, lush grass, shifted and startled with each movement of the dogs.

"Learn what?"

"That the dogs mean no harm. That they are champions, protectors."

"They're safer to keep their guard up," Gagnon said. "The dogs feel nothing for the sheep. They act in obedience to us. They run circles because it's a game, because we feed them. Their loyalty is to their own survival. If we ever stopped feeding them, left them to their own instincts, be certain they'd feed themselves somehow. The sheep are the smart ones. Better to live by the instinct God gave you than to be fooled by tricks and manners."

Now my instincts tell me to get ourselves home quickly, where we can have our hunger sated by whatever waits in the pot before tucking ourselves safely up in our room. I blow another signal, and the dogs break, double back, and begin to run. The sheep run with them, their woolly heads filled with fear at the chase. When they are close enough, I whistle again. Cossette and Copine drop to the ground, and the sheep come to a dead stop, their hooves rooted in place.

There's a rumble of thunder in the distance, and by the time I return to Laurette, she is sitting up and waiting.

"We'll have to hurry," I say. "To beat the rain."

She waves me off. "Afraid you'll melt? Like you're made of sugar?"

I want to say something back, but hold my tongue. This has been characteristic of my cousin of late — short, barbed remarks that make me feel my status with her has changed. Not really an enemy, but a rival of sorts. For all of our lives we have occupied the same space in the world, but there are moments like this one where I feel her nudging me away.

And so we walk. A brisk pace, but comfortable, the sheep behind and then beside us, responding to the pace set by the dogs, who seem much more eager to reach shelter than we do. The drops begin when we are in sight of the farm. It's nestled in a valley, bordered by a stream. There's a large, fenced corral for the sheep, as well as a long, flat building to house them in the winter and on nights like tonight. Gagnon's own house is a simple stone structure, and I can see smoke coming from the chimney promising a good fire and supper. By the time we arrive at the gate, the storm has broken out in earnest and Gagnon, wearing a waxed wool coat and broad-brimmed hat, meets us on the path.

"Go in!" he shouts above the storm. "I'll get them settled."

We obey, breaking into a run, new, soft mud beneath our toes. Every hour of a day spent beneath the sun washes away, our sweat replaced by sweet, fresh rivulets, our skin cooled. We take off our sodden caps and unfasten our hair, raking our fingers through to distribute the wet. How disheveled we must look when we finally burst through Gagnon's door, thoroughly soaked, teeth chattering.

"W-we have to ch-change," Laurette says. "Or we'll catch our death."

"Change into what?" I have one other dress — same as she — and it is across the yard hanging on a hook next to my bed.

"Here."

I follow her into the great room, where a long trunk sits beneath a window, its lid a cushioned seat. Inside, Gagnon keeps blankets and linens. With the authority of a mistress, Laurette opens it, rummages through, and takes out an old, yellowed shirt and two blankets.

"Strip down and put this on." I obey, comforted by her maternal tone, but feel a new onslaught of cold when my skin is bare. She strips, too, and I'm struck — not for the first time — how much more of a woman she is than I. True, she's almost three years older, but she'd already developed the soft curves of her body when she was my age. While I'm rolling up the shirtsleeves, I'm aware of the thinness of the material that falls past my knees. Such a garment would not suit Laurette. She might as well wear nothing.

In fact, she seems prepared to do just that, wrapping the thin blanket around her shoulders, holding the ends tight against her as she shivers by the fire. With her back to me, I notice a small hole right in the middle of the fabric, just atop her backside. Moths, I suspect, eating right where the blanket had been folded in the trunk.

"Let me see that," I say. "Take it off. I have an idea. Bend down." This, because I barely reach her chin, and I slip the blanket over her head.

While rifling through the contents of the trunk, Laurette had tossed a long strip of linen to the side. Picking it up now, I place it across her stomach, thread it through a smaller moth-hole near the small of her back, and wrap it back around, securing the loose blanket with a knot at her waist. The result is a dress, its hem long past her knees, the sleeves wide like tulips at her elbows. There's a clean line of color across her chest, outlining the bodice of her daily dress. Here, the fabric takes a sharp plunge beneath it, creating a soft V shape and an unprecedented view of the figure beneath.

"Aren't you the clever one, Cousine?" She puts her hands on her hips and parades around the room.

"It'll do to keep you warm, at least."

We gather our wet clothes and spread them out on the floor in front of the fire. Laurette steps carefully between our garments and ladles out a bowl of soup for herself, then one for me.

"Shouldn't we wait for Gagnon?"

"He'd want us to be warm on the inside and out. He's good that way, non?"

"He is." I accept the bowl, my hands gradually growing warm through the wood, and blow on its contents. There are large chunks of vegetables — carrots and turnips and onion — but no traces of meat. Still, the soup is flavorful and filling, and in my hunger I slurp it from the wooden spoon so quickly it burns the roof of my mouth. It's not long before I am full. Or, at least, full enough. Before either of us can be tempted to ladle a second portion, I take my bowl — and Laurette's — and dunk them in the bucket of wash water before returning them to the cupboard.

Outside, the storm rages so loudly it takes a while to distinguish a pounding on the door from the sound of thunder.

"You locked the door?" I cross the room to open it, as Laurette shows no sign of getting up from her comfortable slouch by the fire.

"Couldn't very well have him coming in while we were changing, could we?"

Scowling over my shoulder, I lift the heavy latch and let the wind push the door. Gagnon enters, rain pouring off his cloak creating a puddle on the floor. He hangs it on a spike and I fetch a bowl to place underneath it, all while he feigns irritation, saying, "That's a fine thing, to lock a man out of his own home on such a night."

"Come, sit," I invite, "and warm up. I'll fetch you a bowl."

He waves me off, but comes to his high-backed chair by the hearth, staring not into the flames, but at the empty dresses stretched across the floor. His is a handsome face, with broad features that give him an appeal much younger than his years. Though Laurette and I are nothing like the girls we were when we first arrived, he remains unchanged. True, he is our patron, but the years between us seem compressed. On evenings like this, I can easily make the mistake of thinking we are peers.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Seamstress"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Allison Pittman.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Jocelyn Green

Destined to be a classic in its own right, The Seamstress is everything I love about historical fiction. The robust characters not only interact with real and pivotal events, but they embody the attitudes of the day in ways that are accessible for the modern reader. Pittman’s power of language drew me deep into revolutionary France, and her accurate and sensitive portrayal of the turmoil earned my undying respect. The Seamstress is an intricate tapestry hemmed in truth and grace. A masterpiece.

Gina Dalfonzo

Allison Pittman has taken a minor but memorable Dickens character and created a whole world for her, thoroughly researched and beautifully detailed. The seamstress’s rags-to-riches-to-rags story is an endlessly fascinating and touching one. You’ll find yourself caring deeply not just about her, but also about everyone she cares for.

Joanne Bischof

Set amid the tumultuous French Revolution, The Seamstress is unabashedly profound and yet crafted with such care that I relished every heartrending word until the very last one. Through the lives of vibrant and genuine characters, notes of love, faith, and loyalty rise from its pages—all striking with one unanimous chord of courage. Allison Pittman has woven a novel that fortifies the spirit brick by brick so that as a nation is broken and transformed, so takes new shape yet another landscape: the reader’s heart. The Seamstress is an absolute masterpiece with all the makings of a classic, and is one of the finest novels I have ever read.

Lori Benton

In The Seamstress, Allison Pittman has given us a novel of revolutionary France sweeping in its scope, a story of hope and despair, strength and frailty, courage and cowardice seamlessly stitched. With its pages filled with characters who will haunt the heart long after the last is turned, it is a story hemmed in triumph—of the human spirit in the midst of national chaos, but even more of Christ’s infinite love, transcending ideology, reaching alike into palaces and poverty. I finished this novel with a holy hush in my soul.

Rachel McMillan

The Seamstress is a study in nostalgia: carefully evoking a classic while establishing itself as a classic in its own right. Deftly and intelligently nodding to its magnanimous source material, A Tale of Two Cities, it remains confident as its own entity. Appealing equally to Dickensian readers and the uninitiated, The Seamstress is a lush, moving, and brilliantly sewn world. The thinking reader’s inspirational read, it is at once rich, beguiling, and accessibly readable. Its aftertaste will spoil you for any other story for a long, long while.

Heidi Chiavaroli

In the midst of revolution and royalty, Pittman weaves a captivating tale of two cousins whose humble beginnings birth remarkable journeys. A beautiful, rich tale of love, loss, and amazing faith, The Seamstress is a book that haunts, satisfies, and inspires all at once. I loved this book!

Cathy Gohlke

I finished reading The Seamstress three days ago and can’t stop thinking about it. Well-drawn characters inspired by Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, and exquisite writing in the spirit of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, combine in Pittman’s latest novel of life and faith amid the upheaval of the French Revolution. Researched in great detail, a brilliant and ingenious work, not to be missed.

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The Seamstress 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
CH2 More than 1 year ago
Loved it! What an engaging story of ordinary people swept up in extraordinary times! It’s the kind of book for which I wish I could give ten stars instead of five. With a small cast of characters, Allison Pittman manages to present a balanced view of the French Revolution from many perspectives, from starving Parisians to well-intentioned but clueless royalty. Along the way, the author paints a poignant portrait of young lovers valiantly coping with events they neither control nor understand. I was immediately drawn into the first-person account of the life of eighteenth-French peasants. Their grinding poverty is the backdrop that shapes their every moment. Some choose rebellion; others faith-filled obedience. Renee and Gagnon were the characters I found most endearing. I knew I was immersed in the book when I started lecturing Laurette, who exasperated me with a string of ill-advised decisions. “The Seamstress” is the kind of book I can’t quit thinking about. What if? If only! Why? I know I’ll never see “A Tale of Two Cities” again without remembering Laurette and Renee. I recommend keeping a full box of tissues handy, especially for the last chapter.
Faye_reviews More than 1 year ago
My Review: Cousins Laurette and Renee are orphaned and taken in by the kindly Gagnon. Renee is a talented seamstress, and her craft takes her within the palace walls working for Queen Marie Antoinette. Laurette longs for adventure and love, following her desires. Inspired by The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, this story tells of two cousins on different sides of the revolution. Renee is content with her simple, yet when she receives the opportunity to make the dreams she never dared to dream a reality she takes it. I admired her faithfulness, and level-headedness, she is plucky and strong beyond her diminutive size. This book does a fantastic job of drawing the vast contrasts between the upper class excess of the royal family and the desperate poverty of those with a common plight. Marcel and Gagnon could not be more opposite in their philosophies. I loved Gagnon's commitment to his faith, often standing alone against the tide. This is a riveting book that captures both sides of the revolution, showing the desperate and unsatisfied side of the wealthy in their humanity, while showing the need for change and reform in the wave of the future. Good and bad are present on boths sides of the battlelines, and in many ways I couldn't help but think of the present day and the way that many on both sides are impassioned by their political fervor. It wasn't always easy to root for Laurette, but her story arch is beautiful nonetheless. Marcel was the kind of guy that I loved to hate, yet still felt sorry for. An engagingly spun story set against the French Revolution, that I couldn't put down. Ms. Pittman is an expert of storytelling evoking stark imagery in my head that set the tone and emotion of the story. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Becky5 More than 1 year ago
1788 Paris is dark, gritty, and terrifying; beautiful, lavish and out-of-touch. While the Seamstress by Allison Pittman has much action in the poor countryside, much thought and control are determined in the capricious capital. With its model being The Tale of Two Cities, The Seamstress yet holds forth rays of hope peeking through the backdrop of the dank Bastille on a hot, steamy day. What an incredible, overall effect the completed story has on one's heart. Abandonment, adoption, intrigue, faith, faithlessness, famine, excess, forgiveness, greed, love, lust, loyalty, rebellion in every form; all are here and present in Paris where the food is scarce and the anger is plentiful. Pittman relates her tale through two cousins, Laurette and Renee. Unsatisfied Laurette's part is told in the third person, while innocent Renee's is narrated in first. I half wondered if that encouraged the reader to favor the purer Renee? Silver-tongued Marcel and godly, poor farmer Gagnon are major players in the drama. This is certainly a character-driven novel as we see a nation fighting against itself for survival. I loved the great attention to historical detail and political climate, while God's Word was seamlessly woven into the story in small but efficient sound bites at just the right time. This is a book to leave you reeling! I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are my own.
Kathae More than 1 year ago
This was a sweet story, the images bringing to mind Belle from Beauty and the Beast singing about her provincial life. But it was also tragic, as the words to "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from Les Miserables filled my head throughout the book. The combination resulted in a beautiful, yet angry story set during the French Revolution. This may be the first novel that I've read by Allison Pittman, but let me tell you, she can write! Whether it was hunger pangs, passion, fear, or an idyllic afternoon gazing at the clouds she had me fully present in the moment. In spite of the violent nature of the events, Pittman kept it clean. This book was easy to read, much more than its inspiration, A Tale of Two Cities. This book is why I love historical fiction. It taught me about the real events of another time and place, and gave me insights into the characters involved. Anyone with a special interest in the French Revolution will certainly appreciate this novel. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, Tyndale House, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes. The thoughts expressed here are my own.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
This is a story of complex characters who lived during a complex time in history. This all takes place right before the French Revolution. You get to meet Marie Antoinette and her children and see that she wasn’t quite as bad as she was portrayed. The rich should have been a little more understanding. They did not understand what it was like to starve. I loved the characters in the story. My favorite character was Renée. She seems to be the most level headed. I received a copy of this book from Celebratelit for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
5643437 More than 1 year ago
The Seamstress, by Allison Pittman, provides an excellent look into the land of France and the time of Marie Antoinette. As someone who loves to read about history, I found this book to be captivating. Portraying the tumultuous period of French history comes through in a clearer and captivating way. The book also illustrates what happens when a young woman allows her feelings and emotions to overrule her good judgment. Laurette allows herself to be taken in by Marcel Moreau and finds herself pregnant as a result. Yet throughout the book, Gagnon sticks to his Christian beliefs and stays true to his love of God, even while being forced to watch those he loves march towards heartbreak and the heart of a revolution. When Gagnon and Laurette marry, he shows Christian love to someone who desperately needs it. Moreover, Gagnon provides a name for her daughter, an illustration of Christian compassion and the importance of seeking God’s forgiveness for our transgressions. So check out this book for yourself.
NKBookReviewer More than 1 year ago
Author Allison Pittman has taken a minor character from Charles Dickens’ book, “A Tale of Two Cities” and given her a tale all her own. The character now has a name, Renee, a stronger voice, and emotions that will leap off of the pages of this book and straight into your heart. The three other main characters, Laurette, Gagnon, and Marcel all come to life with the skilled stroke of the author’s pen. For years I have been a fan of the gifted wordsmith Pittman. Her writing style is engaging and always draws me in. It was the same with this book. This book was well researched, organized, and well planned. At first I found it a little difficult but after a couple of chapters, it flowed flawlessly. The characters complimented each other with their positive and negative attitudes. They were well defined and described. My heart ached for them and I secretly hoped the author had changed Dickens’ ending, too. Life issues of despair, hope, faith, love, redemption, treachery, war, kindness, lies, and morality are intricately woven throughout this exemplary novel. At times it was hard to read, and yet at other times it was even harder to but down. I was totally captivated. My mind had no problem imagining the scenes that played out on the pages. Even though I have read other fiction about this time period, this book taught me more than other books about the people, turmoil, surroundings, and era. It is essential that I learn something from a novel for me to really enjoy it. The second thing I need is a Christian message if it is classified as a Christian fiction book. Bravo on both points for “The Seamstress.” This is no light, fluffy read. It portrays real life during the French Revolution and that can be brutal. This book has stuck with me long after finishing it. It was thought provoking and beautifully written. I find it hard to describe such a masterpiece. Definitely I recommend this gem of a novel. If you are a fan of Dickens, the classics, French Revolution, or history you will swoon over this novel. It earned a five out of five stars from me. A copy was provided buy I was under no obligation to write a review. These are my own, personal thoughts.
Ourpugs More than 1 year ago
The Seamstress An historical set in 1788. Two orphaned cousins that are taken in by Emile Gagnon who has the means to support them. They did have to help around his place. Laurette and Renee end up going their separate ways through different circumstances. Laurette only left for a short time but Renee ended up leaving and becoming a seamstress for Queen Marie Antoinette. The book is based on the novel called The Tale of Two Cities. If I read that book it was a long time ago. I did find the book interesting, good flow of words. Fast reading. The chapters did let me know which character it was about. Being in first person that was really helpful. I was disappointed at the end of the book, but don’t let that stop you from reading it. There is a lot of good scenes in the book. I received a advanced copy of the book. I was not required to write an positive review. This is my own opinion.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
This has been one of the most detailed historical books I have ever read. There are twol characters in the book that are equally important to the story. Renee and Laurette are cousins and have suffered greatly in poverty in their young years. The author does an exceptional job of drawing readers in with vivid descriptions that made me feel like I was there as the two cousins leaned on each other. The setting takes place during the French Revolution and the hardships it caused. I loved learning more about the Revolution and how it defined people during that time. The author takes two characters that are close and gives them different paths to take. Renee is a likeable character but to me was a bit naive at times. I think she was ready for something or someone to take her away to a better life. When her chance comes, she is a bit reluctant but seizes the opportunity. I loved reading how she could take a simple piece of fabric and make it into a work of beauty. With Renee suddenly finding herself living in a place with a queen must have been hard to adjust to. I loved when the queen said to Renee, " Never under estimate the value of loyalty." Our word is everything and it speaks volumes to people who come to trust us. Can Renee find happiness living in a grand place away from her cousin? Laurette is a little more reserved and follows rule to perfection. She is sad that Renee has left, but prays for her safety and happiness. Laurette seemed to be somewhat ready to change her life. She will find herself having to make difficult choices that could cause her to go down a path not suited to her. I think I related to her because she was always seeking approval from others. Her insecurity was evident and her desire to be needed and loved sometimes made her make poor choices. I loved the questions certain characters had about God and how one spoke up and said that in his house he would not allow anyone to speak against Him. What a great stance he took and showed how faithful he was to God. There is a strong presence of faith in the book and I liked how the author used it to show how characters needed God in times when they felt lost or alone. It is a historical adventure with Marie Antoinette making a big splash in the story during the French Revolution. It was hard to read about how people were starving and trying to find ways to survive. There is a sense of hope in the story and it showed as people still believed that God hadn't left them. The time period is during a difficult time in history and the author captures the emotional turmoil with grace.I wanted to give a warning to those who may be sensitive to bad language, hints of unkind things done to a woman and unthinkable violence. There are a few of those moments in the book but it is done tastefully and does hinder the story at all. It is a very well written story that I will not forget. I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher and Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
This has been one of the most detailed historical books I have ever read. There are twol characters in the book that are equally important to the story. Renee and Laurette are cousins and have suffered greatly in poverty in their young years. The author does an exceptional job of drawing readers in with vivid descriptions that made me feel like I was there as the two cousins leaned on each other. The setting takes place during the French Revolution and the hardships it caused. I loved learning more about the Revolution and how it defined people during that time. The author takes two characters that are close and gives them different paths to take. Renee is a likeable character but to me was a bit naive at times. I think she was ready for something or someone to take her away to a better life. When her chance comes, she is a bit reluctant but seizes the opportunity. I loved reading how she could take a simple piece of fabric and make it into a work of beauty. With Renee suddenly finding herself living in a place with a queen must have been hard to adjust to. I loved when the queen said to Renee, " Never under estimate the value of loyalty." Our word is everything and it speaks volumes to people who come to trust us. Can Renee find happiness living in a grand place away from her cousin? Laurette is a little more reserved and follows rule to perfection. She is sad that Renee has left, but prays for her safety and happiness. Laurette seemed to be somewhat ready to change her life. She will find herself having to make difficult choices that could cause her to go down a path not suited to her. I think I related to her because she was always seeking approval from others. Her insecurity was evident and her desire to be needed and loved sometimes made her make poor choices. I loved the questions certain characters had about God and how one spoke up and said that in his house he would not allow anyone to speak against Him. What a great stance he took and showed how faithful he was to God. There is a strong presence of faith in the book and I liked how the author used it to show how characters needed God in times when they felt lost or alone. It is a historical adventure with Marie Antoinette making a big splash in the story during the French Revolution. It was hard to read about how people were starving and trying to find ways to survive. There is a sense of hope in the story and it showed as people still believed that God hadn't left them. The time period is during a difficult time in history and the author captures the emotional turmoil with grace.I wanted to give a warning to those who may be sensitive to bad language, hints of unkind things done to a woman and unthinkable violence. There are a few of those moments in the book but it is done tastefully and does hinder the story at all. It is a very well written story that I will not forget. I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher and Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
SBMC More than 1 year ago
What an amazing and epic historical fiction set during the earlier years of the French Revolution. This is the first book I’ve read by Allison Pittman and she has garnered another devoted reader! The author’s writing style is hauntingly melodic and nostalgic; the combination of first person and third person narrative works well to bring a cohesive and well-constructed plot that spans quite a few years and takes place in several places. The characters are wonderfully layered, real, flawed, yet relatable and unforgettable. Faith and prayer play major roles in the characters’ lives even as the religious landscape of France changes drastically. Laurette and Renee are cousins and worlds apart in looks, personality, faith, and outlook on life. Laurette’s story is told in third person and Renee’s in first person. Though Renee is easier to like from the beginning, Laurette grew on me as the story progressed and she herself matured. My favorite character, though not truly a main character, has to be Gagnon. His faithfulness, gentleness, loving kindness, and steadfastness even in the midst of famine and heartbreak make him a godly man, though he does have plenty of faults. This book will make you examine what it is that we live and die for and what forgiveness and mercy truly look like. If you enjoy well-written and well-researched historical fiction, you will absolutely adore this book. It’s a must read. I was given a copy of the book by Tyndale House Publishers via Celebrate Lit Tours and was under no obligation to post a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
The Seamstress takes a reader back to 1788 in the countryside of France with cousins Renee and Laurette. They are orphans and live with their guardian, Emile Gagnon, where they help take care of his sheep. Renee is then offered a position as a seamstress in the royal court of Marie Antoinette. It is, also, time of turmoil in Paris. People are starving and wanting change, bringing on a violent rebellion. How will the lives for them all when these new events begin? The Seamstress is a good read. This historical takes a reader back in time to one of the most important times in French history. I found the story to be an inspiring one that is rich in faith. The characters are ones that I admired. The author was so vivid with the details that I had to look up to see if certain scenes actually happened. I give The Seamstress four stars and recommend to those who enjoy novels involving French history. I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
directorgirl11386 More than 1 year ago
Historical Fiction is my favorite books. This isn't your typical rags to riches historical fiction. Allison Pittman painted an amazingly vivid story. She told a fantastic tale of two young orphan cousins, Laurette and Renee, their kind guardian, and their life-changing choices during the bloodiest time, the French Revolution. Renee's chance encounter leads her to the court of Marie Antoinette. We see Laurette seeking love in unsafe ways which lead her to Gagnon. His strong faith was a great influence on Laurette. Pittman did an amazing job at transitioning between Renee and Laurette's life without confusing or losing the reader. I can tell that Pittman did her research because her vivid detail descriptions throughout her book brought me into the trying times of the French Revolution. Her writing style is amazing. Every one of her characters was thought out and had great growth. If you love history then this fiction is perfect for you. Even though The Seamstress is taken place during the French Revolution it is still relevant for today. I look forward to reading more of Allison Pittman's books in the future. I would highly recommend this book. I had the hardest time putting this book down. I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
We follow two cousins back at the time prior and during the French Revolution, living on a farm, having been given sanctuary by their guardian. One is a talented seamstress and we follow her to the royal court and watch her win favor there. What a hard time in history for the French people, and we put faces on what leads to the over thrown of their government. Surprises are found here, and all the way to the end I was hoping for different answers, but once you start on this story you will have to keep on reading, sheep and all, starvation and violence, you will need to know who is going to survive. I received this book through Celebrate Lit, and was not required to give a positive review.
E_Espinoza More than 1 year ago
I only needed to read the first few pages of The Seamstress, by Allison Pittman, to know that this story was not only powerfully profound, but that it was most certainly going to have an undeniable and lasting impact upon my heart. The Seamstress is historical fiction at its absolute finest. Utterly memorable and touching, this novel is the rare piece of literature that evokes the full spectrum of human emotions, thoughts, and sympathies. Nestled within its pages, this novel holds everything a reader wholeheartedly desires. The intensely compelling plot flows effortlessly between two points of view while also weaving together intricate scenes of adversity, suspense, intrigue, romance, sacrifice, and redemption. Every word and phrase within this outstanding book is rich with deep meaning and thoughtful purpose. The well-researched details and the remarkably stunning descriptions ensure that every moment spent reading this story is a moving experience to be savored and treasured. Most assuredly, this novel deserves numerous compliments, ongoing attention, and purposeful re-readings. Page after page, the Seamstress succeeded in stitching an indelible pattern upon my heart and in my mind. That a story so full of tragedy and loss could be told so beautifully and still be infused with such hope is a testament to the phenomenal writing talent the author possesses. This is the first book I have read by Allison Pittman, but with it she has easily secured a place among my most favorite of authors. It is my sincere pleasure to recommend this unforgettable novel to all readers. *I was given a copy of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley and Celebrate Lit. A review was not required. The review I have written contains opinions that are entirely my own.
PianoLady831 More than 1 year ago
Sometimes a novel inspired by a famous classic achieves classic status in and of itself, and that is what I believe The Seamstress by Allison Pittman is destined to become. Intrigued by the cameo appearance of a seamstress in the closing pages of A Tale of Two Cities, Pittman fleshes out an epic and haunting tale of two young orphan cousins, their kind guardian, and the life-changing choices they made during a bloody and turbulent time. Personally, I have never read, nor wanted to read, this Dickens novel, and only chose to read The Seamstress because I’ve enjoyed Pittman’s writing so much in the past. The result was to become totally immersed in this moving and compelling story. Pittman’s prose and storytelling are exquisite, vividly drawing readers into the heart of the French Revolution. The four main characters – Renee, Laurette, Gagnon and Marcel – are richly drawn and reflective of the times. With the exception of Gagnon, the guardian, faith seemed to be either ritualistic or nonexistent. It was an era of hunger, heavy taxes, hatred for the ruling class, and a court blind to the plight of its people. The setting is not one that bodes happiness, yet inspiration and hope are found in this story of honor, grace, and forgiveness. Renee’s chance encounter leads her to the court of Marie Antoinette and brings this historic figure to life. But while The Seamstress came to be written because of Renee, it was the storyline revolving around her country cousin, Laurette, that I loved most. The young Laurette had a wildness about her, a desire to seek love in the wrong ways, and Gagnon’s strong faith, patience and influence were exactly what she needed. The Seamstress is a captivating story, relevant for today, and contains much to reflect upon. I look forward to much more from the pen of Allison Pittman. Very highly recommended. I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Nicole_C More than 1 year ago
The Seamstress was inspired by The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. It was the first book that I have read by Allison Pittman. She takes the readers back in time to the time of the French Revolution in the 18th century and makes the readers feel like they are a part of the action. The chapters switched back and forth between two cousins and their differing experiences during the French Revolution. The characters had strong loyalty and patriotism toward their country, but expressed those traits in different ways. Some of the storyline was a little slower paced than I would have preferred, but fans of historical fiction will enjoy this latest novel by Allison Pittman. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
SusanKC More than 1 year ago
Oh my...this book is outstanding!!! Certain to remain one of my all-time favorites, this epic novel and its characters will haunt the reader long after the last page has been read. Ms.Pittman, as a new-to-me author, blew me away with her beautiful prose that masterfully told a story set amidst the turbulent times surrounding the French Revolution. Giving a nod to Charles Dicken's Tale of Two Cities, Ms. Pittman has crafted a story with memorable characters who face the harsh realities of the time with courage. The eclectic cast of characters displayed both weakness and strength that is part of human nature as they fought for survival, loyalty and love during this difficult time. Faith threads of forgiveness and grace are woven throughout. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from Netgalley and the author/publisher through CelebrateLit. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own. 6 likes
grammy57 More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read by Allison Pittman. The story was interesting but somehow it felt heavy. It switched back and forth between two cousins and what they were going through. The time period is just before and during the French Revolution. It was an Advanced Reader's Copy so the editing wasn't perfect but still well done. What I liked about the book was that it was well written and the story was interesting. What I did not like was the use of the French words/terms. I speak English and sometimes the words/phrases were re-stated in English but many times they were not. If you are writing in English and want to add foreign words and phrases make sure they are re-stated in English so your readers can follow along. I give this book three out of five stars mostly because of the French words/phrases. This is a Christian book and it is not overly preachy but does deliver the Gospel message in a nice way. I requested to read and review this book through Netgalley. The opinions are my own and freely given.
sesquius More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting book. It was well written and kept me captivated from the start. What I apparently have not read recently, is A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. If you have, then you may be aware of this particular character. I was not. The story is based on that character, The Seamstress, and is a fictional, imaginary what if as to how her life started. It is two stories intertwined within one, yet heartbreak and sorrow is all around. It is interesting how events that happened, with the one cousin headed to the city and the other who stayed behind. Things that happened they wove between the two lives and was like a common thread that went from one cousin to the other. The story had me in tears at times and just awe in others. It is absolutely well written book and brought together the story of The Seamstress quite well. If anything, this has sent me on a quest to read more about Marie Antoinette. Well done to the author on this amazing book. The ending, having not read A Tale of Two Cities, was a surprise. I was provided a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishing, all opinions are my own.
BMace More than 1 year ago
'Never find your esteem in the eyes of anyone other than our Heavenly Father who loves you' Gagnon. An incredible book that is almost impossible to put down! Set as the French Revolution is simmering under the surface, the author takes us along as she weaves the life story of two young orphans, their guardian and their choices. Was it possible that being a seamstress for the queen would keep young Renee safe? How could it be, that rebellion would lead to food, being rain or end the famine? Written with such wonderful historical detail, I felt like I was there, feeling the crush of people in revolt and almost smelling the blood of those sacrificed for the cause. I received this ARC through Tyndale House Publishers Inc. and CelebrateLit. All impressions and opinions are my own.
connywithay More than 1 year ago
“Better to live by the instinct God gave you than to be fooled by tricks and manners,” Gagnon instructs Renee in Allison Pittman’s novel, The Seamstress. ~ What ~ Inspired by a famous Dicken’s story, this four-hundred-and-eighty-page paperback targets those who enjoy learning about life, love, and loyalty during the French Revolution. Topics of poverty, premarital sex, imprisonment, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes the author’s note, ten discussion questions, author’s biography, a chapter from another authored book, and advertisements. In this 1788 romance told sporadically throughout the chapters in first person , orphaned Renee and her cousin Laurette live with Emile Gagnon in the small village of Mouton Blanc, France. The diminutive girl who is efficient with a thread and needle is offered to go to Paris to be a seamstress for Queen Marie Antoinette, while her relative stays behind, enticed by the wiles of Marcel, a rebellious militant of the resistance against the kingdom. Ever-patriotic to the monarch, Renee sews beautiful and unique clothing and falls in love but misses her home. Laurette learns a lesson about love that is permanent yet forgiving. Although both women live in worlds apart, they come to grips how God directs their lives. ~ Why ~ With France’s upheaval as the backdrop, this extensive tale shows how love, loyalty, and faith in God can get one through the darkest hour. I like the detailed history of the land, impressive ornateness of Versailles, and brokenness of poverty and drought that grasped the country. ~ Why Not Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not understand how God is in control, even when we do not understand why. Some may not like the tediousness of the story, lonely heartbreak of some characters, and ending. ~ Wish ~ With many characters who are threaded throughout the tale, it would be helpful if there were a brief list of names at the beginning of the book for reference. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence. ~ Want ~ If you are looking for a romantic fiction of two women who walk separate paths to find freedom during a revolution, this read will captivate your heart while wishing for redemption. Thanks to Tyndale Blog for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.