The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester

‘A New Look, for a new world.’

Part love story, part mystery and part war story, ‘The Paris Secret’ involves two separate timelines, the unravelling of a secret, and several memorable characters.

England, 1939. Skye Penrose is a talented pilot who has worked hard to be one of the few women to then join the Air Transport Auxiliary, supporting the British war effort.  This brings her into contact with her estranged sister Liberty, her childhood friend Nicholas Crawford and his fiancée Margaux Jordan.

Paris, 1947. Christian Dior unveils his first collection of haute couture gowns to a world wearied by war.  He names his debut fragrance, Miss Dior, as a tribute to his sister Catherine, who worked for the French Resistance.

And in the present, Australian fashion conservator Kat Jourdan discovers a wardrobe filled with priceless Dior gowns in her grandmother’s cottage in Cornwall.  As Kat tries to discover the story behind the gowns, she learns that there is far more to her grandmother’s life than she knew.

This novel held my attention from beginning to end. I read about the vital role female pilots played in the British war effort and the work undertaken by members of the Special Operations Executive.  I worried about Skye, became annoyed with Liberty and wondered about Nicholas and Margaux.  And in the present, I hoped that Kat would both find happiness and find out more about her grandmother.

This is a beautifully detailed historical novel, blending fact and fiction into an unforgettable story about love and sacrifice.

Highly recommended.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith