The Dress Thief
Utterly original and compelling, the debut novel by Harry Bowling Prize winner is set in Paris and Madrid in the late 30s. It juxtaposes the lavish world of haute couture with jazz-filled nightclubs, illicit love, politics and bloodshed. Alix Gower, newly arrived in Paris from a straight-laced upbringing in London, longs to be the sort of girl who can ‘walk through the doors of Hermes feeling as if I belong’. She is determined to become a designer like Chanel or Jeanne Lanvin, to flourish despite being the poor, illegitimate child of an Alsace Jewess and an Englishman who both died too young. Alix breaks rules, copying couture designs and selling them so that she can support herself and her ailing grandmother. She becomes a seamstress and model at a top fashion house, exposing her to the crème de la crème of the haute couture world, but also to men from the underworld like Serge Martel, owner of the Rose-Noire nightclub, to aristocratic Comte de Charembourg, wartime comrade of her father, and a young English journalist, Verrian Holland, recently arrived in Paris from the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, who takes an almost unhealthy interest in Alix and her family. Well-connected and idealistic, Verrian has never met someone like her, but even he may not be able to save Alix if her double life is exposed.
"A fascinating re-creation of Paris in those edgy months as war approached, and a fascinating evocation of a great fashion house and the knife edge the designers live on. Natalie Meg Evans is a born storyteller". Sara Craven
"A truly accomplished and delicious debut novel." Laurie Graham