The Dressmaker's Gift
by Fiona Valpy (2019)
Kindle + Audible
Audio book narrated by Anne Flosnik and Justin Eyre
9 hrs 12 min
* * *
This is a story told from a double perspective of today vs the past. A young woman, Harriet, goes to Paris and obtains a job as well as living quarters in the same building where her grandmother lived and worked as a seamstress back during WWII. She has an old photo from those days of her grandmother with two other girls. As it happens, her own roommate turns out to be the grandchild of one of the two others, and knows more about all three of them. Through her Harriet gets to know their story. They all got involved in the resistance movement in France during the war, and also had to suffer for that.
I agree with some other reviews I read of the book that the double time perspective sometimes really doesn't seem to add all that much, and that to just tell the story of the three women in WWII might have been a better choice. Listening to the audio book, I also found the voices of the two narrators too similar, which didn't help. That said, I still found the book worth reading. For one thing, while I've read many books about WWII, I think they've usually been chiefly from either Jewish or British/American perspective (or Swedish) - rather than from within occupied France and the resistance movement there. For another, it's also quite a powerful story about strong friendship between women helping each other through difficult times.
. . .
The Last Correspondent
by Soraya M. Lane (2020)
Kindle + Audible
Audio book narrated by Sarah Zimmerman
9 hrs 34 min
* * * *
This is a story of similar WWII background as the one above, also with the friendship between three women in focus, and set in France.
Quoting from the publisher's introduction:
When journalist Ella Franks is unmasked as a woman writing under a male pseudonym, she loses her job. But having risked everything to write, she refuses to be silenced and leaps at the chance to become a correspondent in war-torn France.
Already entrenched in the thoroughly male arena of war reporting is feisty American photojournalist Danni Bradford. Together with her best friend and partner, Andy, she is determined to cover the events unfolding in Normandy. And to discover the whereabouts of Andy’s flighty sister, Vogue model Chloe, who has followed a lover into the French Resistance.
When trailblazing efforts turn to tragedy, Danni, Ella and Chloe are drawn together, and soon form a formidable team. Each woman is determined to follow her dreams “no matter what,” and to make her voice heard over the noise of war.
Europe is a perilous place, with danger at every turn. They’ll need to rely on each other if they are to get their stories back, and themselves out alive. Will the adventure and love they find be worth the journey of their lives?
On the whole, I think I found this book more interesting, being told from the perspective of war correspondents, both journalists and photographers. It may have increased my interest that I happened to read this book in the early days of the current war situation in Ukraine, and parallel to hearing quite a lot on the news about the difficulty for reporters in our own time to collect correct information about what was really going on. There were parts that seemed a bit exaggerated to me, but in an afterword, the author says that while there are parts of her book that are entirely fiction, there's also a lot based on real events and people even if tweaked a bit to fit her fictional characters and story.