A popular theme in historical fiction is dual storylines. Typically one is told in the present day and the other in the past.
In my latest novel up for review, The Dressmaker’s Dowry, this same theme makes an appearance.
San Francisco: 1876. Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city’s most affluent ladies.
When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna’s future is altered forever. With Margaret’s encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas.
Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret’s fate, forcing her to make a devastating decision…one that will echo through the generations.
San Francisco: Present Day. In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for.
Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered.
Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer?
I often find that the dual storylines approach to historical fiction novels tend to work well and in this novel I think it was interesting and helped move the story along nicely. It gives the reader kind of the best of both worlds and often appeals to a wider audience and those who aren’t ‘all in’ when it comes to historical fiction.
For me though, there was something less polished about this novel and I can’t write put my finger on what it is. While it was a fast paced novel that I felt invested in, for some reason it fell a little flat. I think the modern story was what I struggled with the most.
I think the historical storyline was well researched and believable, but Sarah’s story just seemed too fictional and fabricated for me so I found myself less interested in what was happening with her and move invested in the historical story.
Could it be because I am a huge fan of historical fiction and would really just rather read pure historical fiction stories…..maybe. This novel had the potential to be very very good with a little refinement on the modern plot.
Now that said, it wasn’t a disappointing or unfavorable read by any means. It was well researched and the historical elements were engaging and interesting not to mention I loved Hanna and I wanted to know all about her and her love story etc. but when it came to Sarah, I just felt like her story wasn’t cut from the same cloth which made me lose interest in what was happening with her. It was clear to me that the author was much more invested in Hanna’s story and the historical parts of the novel, it felt like Sarah’s part was just added in for larger audience appeal and it just didn’t work for me.
I think this is a great start for the debate author, with a few tweaks and character development this author could be a shining star in the historical fiction world!
Kindle Edition, 384 pagesPublished February 7th 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks
This book counts toward: NA
- Hosted by: NA
- Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 3 out of 5
Genre: Romance, historical fiction
Memorable lines/quotes: NA