Brooke's Pick: The Seamstress of New Orleans by Diane C. McPhail
McPhail entices with the story of two women from different backgrounds who discover common ground in turn of the 20th-century New Orleans.
I’ve lived in southern Louisiana all my life, but I didn’t know about New Orleans’ first all female organization, Krewe Les Mystérieuses, until reading Diane C. McPhail’s new novel The Seamstress of New Orleans. This novel sets a murder mystery against the backdrop of Mardi Gras in 1900 New Orleans to create an atmospheric tale that is equal parts dazzling and mystifying.
The Seamstress of New Orleans follows two women, Constance and Alice, with similar stories - both of their husbands have gone missing under peculiar circumstances. When the women meet and bond over costume preparations for New Orleans’ Krewe Les Mystérieuses ball, they become fast friends and support each other in their search for the truth about their husbands’ disappearance.
I’ll admit that I didn’t expect to like The Seamstress of New Orleans quite as much as I did! I was frankly expecting an overwritten historical fiction novel with an informative and important, but less than entertaining, storyline. I was quickly proven wrong! I am usually not a fan of murder mysteries, but McPhail pulled me right into her whodunit with the perfect blend of ominous mood and atmospheric storytelling. This novel never becomes dull or stolid because McPhail effectively switches the narrative from the mystery of the missing husbands to preparations for the Mardi Gras ball in even intervals.
My only fault with this novel is that the characters of Constance and Alice are so closely written that I had trouble distinguishing between their voices in the novel. I often thought I was reading Constance’s story, when it was in fact Alice’s, and because they were so similar, I didn’t realize my mistake until many pages in.
The Seamstress of New Orleans is recommended to readers who enjoy historical mysteries set in the south.
Availability: Book; eBook & eAudiobook in cloudLibrary Rating: **** Stars (I really liked it)
Reviewer: Brooke, Public Relations Librarian
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GENRE: Historical Fiction
WRITING STYLE: Richly Detailed
CHARACTER: Strong Female
LOCATION: New Orleans, Louisiana
TIME PERIOD: 1900s
SUBJECT: Dresses; Friendship; Gender Role; Independence; Mardi Gras; Missing Persons; Organized Crime; Orphanages; Seamstresses; Secrets; Single Mothers; Social Classes; Widows
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