The Dressmaker of Dachau- Mary Chamberlain

‘Ada Vaughan-modiste’

This is a consistent refrain of Ada’s, the eponymous ‘Dressmaker of Dachau’.  Though not over-used, it did wear a little thin on me by the book’s end.

Mary Chamberlain takes us on a journey following Ada from the glamour of London & Paris through her experiences in the Second World War & afterwards. Ada dreams of escaping her humble working class origins being a couture designer with her own ‘House of Vaughan’, a journey which starts as an apprentice seamstress, but ends somewhat differently.

The story shows the interaction between personal choices (not always good ones in Ada’s case) and major historical events. Ada is an interesting character, and I didn’t lose sympathy for her or dislike her, even when some of her adverse outcomes were of her own doing.  Her particular case also offered a different perspective on World War II as a British citizen in Germany.

The style is easy to read, with some enjoyable descriptions of fabrics and dressmaking. Perhaps as interesting as the novel itself were Mary Chamberlain’s notes about how and why she chose the story.



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