Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Dressmaker's War

Rate this book
A gripping, powerful, compulsively readable work of historical fiction: the story of a brilliant English dressmaker caught in Germany during World War II, the choices she must make to stay alive—and the way she confronts those choices in war’s aftermath. For readers of Amy Bloom and Anthony Doerr.

In London, 1939, Ada Vaughan is a young woman with an unusual dressmaking skill, and dreams of a better life for herself. That life seems to arrive when Stanislaus, an Austrian aristocrat, sweeps Ada off her feet and brings her to Paris. When war breaks out, Stanislaus vanishes, and Ada is taken prisoner by the Germans, she must do everything she can to survive: by becoming dressmaker to the Nazi wives. Abandoned and alone as war rages, the choices Ada makes will come to back to haunt her years later, as the truth of her experience is twisted and distorted after the war. From glamorous London hotels and Parisian cafes to the desperation of wartime Germany, here is a mesmerizing, richly textured historical novel, a story of heartbreak, survival and ambition, of the nature of truth, and the untold story of what happens to women during war.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published March 23, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Mary Chamberlain

25 books117 followers
Mary Chamberlain is a novelist and historian. Her book Fenwomen was the first book to be published by Virago Press in 1975. Since then, she has published six other works of history, and edited a further five. Her first novel, The Mighty Jester was published by Dr. Cicero Books in the US. Her British debut novel, The Dressmaker of Dachau was published by HarperCollins in the UK and, under the title The Dressmaker's War, by Random House in the USA. In all, it sold to 19 countries and was an international best-seller. Her last novel, The Hidden, was published by Oneworld Publications in February 2019. The Sunday Times listed it as their MUST READ choice of the best recent books in February 2019. Her new book, The Forgotten, will be published by Oneworld in September 2021.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,441 (22%)
4 stars
2,325 (36%)
3 stars
1,861 (29%)
2 stars
591 (9%)
1 star
181 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 707 reviews
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,150 followers
September 20, 2022
Un roman care ar merita mult mai multă atenție din partea cititorilor.

Rar mi se întîmplă să citesc cărți și autori despre care nu știu nimic. Dar de data aceasta, chiar nu se poate afla nimic, nici despre autoare, și nici despre romanul ei de debut. Identitatea lui Mary Chamberlain e prezentată pretutindeni în cîteva rînduri stereotipe. A fost profesor de istorie la o universitate, a luptat împotriva apartheidului, are convingeri feministe și, ca să fiu franc, un chip simpatic. Și mai are o vîrstă.

Croitoreasa de la Dachau mi s-a părut o carte interesantă. Nu cred că mă înșel asupra valorii sale. Povestirea e simplă, cronologic-liniară, lipsită de artificii narative. E vorba de o tînără londoneză, Ada Vaughan, pasionată de mode și de croitorie, care ar vrea să aibă atelierul (și firma) ei. Se visează o Coco Chanel și, într-un fel, îi repetă destinul aventuros. Îi lipsește numai un amănunt nesemnificativ, dar esențial: norocul. S-a născut într-o familie nepotrivită, într-o vreme nepotrivită, într-un loc meschin. Și, din pricina tinereții, Ada este și foarte naivă, crede că tot ce zboară se mănîncă, este o pradă ușoară pentru orice impostor.

Deci, biata Ada cade cu brio în plasa primului bărbat care-i surîde, un anume Stanislaus von Lieben, chipeș și ipocrit, pretins conte, în realitate, un traficant de articole de lenjerie și un cvasi-proxenet. Peste ani, un juriu londonez o condamnă la moarte. Mai mult nu vă spun...

Repet, romanul nu este rău deloc. Ceea ce nu pot înțelege cîtuși de puțin este lipsa lui de ecou. N-am găsit în presa engleză și americană (atît de darnică în cronici elogioase) nici o recenzie, nici măcar o notă de prezentare, un semnal de două rînduri. Foarte ciudat...

Într-un cuvînt, romanul mi-a plăcut.

P. S. Între timp, lucrurile s-au mai schimbat. Mary Chamberlain are o prezentare pe Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Ch...
Profile Image for Angela M (On a little break).
1,270 reviews2,217 followers
January 3, 2016
I've read a good number of books about WWII, told from different perspectives , both fiction and non fiction -some depicting the holocaust and the horrific experiences of the concentration and death camps , some portraying it from the soldier's perspective, some focusing on the resistance movement and some telling the stories of brave people who saved Jews. I've also viewed the war through the eyes of death. I thought this might be another side of how the war impacted people and changed their lives so I started this with high expectations.

Ada Vaughn has dreams and aspirations of becoming a dress designer and having her own house of fashion some day . At first , I liked her ambition and enthusiasm. She leaves London in 1939 for Paris, with the war imminent. Ada ignores the warnings and is too naive at 19 to understand what is happening. She believes that Stanislaus loves her and will help her become who she wants to be . He turns out to be not exactly who he says he and in Paris her nightmare begins

At first I felt sorry for her as she was young and naive and easily duped . But as the story progressed I really questioned some of her decisions. I didn't really connect with her on an emotional level until the end of the story . The thing is that I wanted that to have happened much earlier .

I have to mention that I take exception to the comparison to Doerr. This was not anything like nor nearly as good as Doerr's book . I gave it 3 stars because I did eventually connect with Ada and was taken by the ending.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Random House and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book .
Profile Image for Marla Madison.
Author 11 books108 followers
April 27, 2016
I seldom award a book only one star because if they are that undeserving, I normally don't finish them. The Dressmaker's War, although well-written, had to be one of the most depressing tale's of a woman's life that I've ever read. I kept reading always hoping something would get better for Ada, a young woman who, at the very beginning of WWII, follows a ne'er do well boyfriend to Paris where she believes he is going to propose. Stanislaus, however, has other intentions and eventually dumps Ada in Belgium just as the war is starting. She is unable to get back to England to her family, ends up being hidden by a group of nuns who are taking car of the sick and dying for the Germans. Ada's life gets worse and worse. She has a baby who is born dead (Stanislaus's) and she believes to be alive after a priest smuggles the baby out of the convent. She ends up as a dressmaker for the Germans who treat her worse than an animal while piling work on her. Then, when she miraculously is saved and returns to England and the reader is hoping to see her take what she's learned from all that and improve her life, she continues to make stupid decisions all the way to one of the most depressing endings I've ever read.
So, if you enjoy a book with a female character who constantly goes downhill, never learns from experience, and almost never has a positive moment, this is the book for you. Guaranteed not to make you smile or feel good about the world we live in.
Profile Image for Wilma.
106 reviews49 followers
January 8, 2019
Een verhaal dat blijft boeien...ik heb het in één keer uitgelezen! De ambitieuze Ada, dromend van een beter leven, hopend op een betere toekomst, haar milieu ontvluchten...naïef...valt voor de eerste de beste man die haar het hof maakt...gelovend dat hij graaf Stanislaus von Lieben is...Ze gaat met hem naar Parijs...en dan breekt WOII uit...Stanislaus redt zijn eigen hachje en gaat er van door...Ada komt bij de nonnen terecht en ontdekt dat ze zwanger is...ze kan haar baby niet houden en staat het bij de geboorte af...ze weet WOII te overleven onder erbarmelijke omstandigheden... kleding naaiend voor de vriendin/vrouw van de desbetreffende kampcommandant van Dachau...Na de oorlog keert ze terug naar Londen...haar moeder verstoot haar en ze probeert haar oude beroep als modiste weer op te pakken...en dan herhaalt het verhaal zich...weer valt ze voor de verkeerde man...dit keer met fatale gevolgen...
Profile Image for Gary.
931 reviews196 followers
August 19, 2019
What a depressing ending, Just feels like it wasnt worth it to end like this.
But a necessary read to see what injustices were done to the British working classes and particularly working class women. and a girl who worked as a prostitute, even if forced into it, would never stand a chance. she would get no mercy from the authorities and courts! How heartbreaking she survives the horrors of Dachau only to be murdered by Britain's class and gender injustices
Has anything changed ?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Irene ➰.
357 reviews76 followers
January 13, 2018
1.5/5 〜 ITA/ENG (NOW ADDED)

“Ti chiamano la sarta di Dachau. Sei sulla bocca di tutti. Da te viene la migliore società, gente influente, sai. Non solo di Dachau. Anche di Monaco, Berlino. Mi dicono che la voce è giunta fino al Führer.”


Ho preso questo libro perché è quello che mi sarei voluta aspettare dalla sua storia. Purtroppo invece il libro è stato suddiviso male a mio parere, o il titolo non è del tutto adeguato.
Ada come protagonista e soprattutto come carattere non mi è piaciuto per niente. Alla fine ho faticato parecchio per concludere la lettura perché veramente stava diventando snervante.
Il libro ti dà subito un’idea ben chiara di come sia questa ragazza. E’ tutta piena di sé e vuole per forza “diventare qualcuno”. Non è sbagliato, sia chiaro, ma questo suo atteggiamento esce anche in situazioni del tutto inadeguate, mi spiego. Nonostante TUTTI le abbiano sconsigliato l’inizio di questa sua avventura parigina - finita poi in disgrazia - lei parte ugualmente perché pensa di aver trovato l’uomo della sua vita, ovvero finalmente qualcuno che la faccia diventare quello che lei vorrebbe, una sarta di successo.
Purtroppo tutto l'insieme mi ha creato un disprezzo per il personaggio non indifferente e per questo il finale non mi ha toccata minimamente.

L’errore di dare sempre troppa confidenza o di farsi influenzare e ingannare così facilmente si ripete veramente di continuo che ti chiedi ad un certo punto se lo stia facendo apposta…
La parte della sua prigionia che doveva essere la parte principale del libro si riduce a forse un centinaio di pagine a farla grande.
Le altre duecento sono dedicate alla vita prima e dopo la guerra, di come Ada ha un lavoro rispettoso e anche con delle soddisfazioni prima, e di come invece deciderà di affrontare il dopo.

La storia in generale non mi è piaciuta, come ho già detto mi aspettavo il libro fosse molto più incentrato sulla sua esperienza a Dachau, invece la sua storia fa da cornice per creare il finale.
Per essere un libro nemmeno lungo perché è sulle 300 pagine penso si prenda un spazio temporale troppo vasto, e tutto è scritto in modo frettoloso e a saltoni.
Si passa da un Natale ad una primavera con un semplice paragrafo, tra l'altro non ci sono capitoli.

In breve, questo libro ha un gran bel potenziale però la storia è sotto un certo punto di vista piuttosto ripetitiva, dove ci si deve sopportare in continuazione una ragazzina troppo sicura di sé che commette in continuazione gli stessi stupidi errori, con una struttura molto sconclusionata e soprattutto un personaggio principale al limite del sopportabile.

Lo stile di scrittura, invece, mi è piaciuto parecchio, ed è stato proprio grazie a lui che sono riuscita a concludere il libro, anche se alla fine mi sono ritrovata a saltare dei pezzi perché non ce la facevo più.
______________________________

I picked this book up because it’s what I wanted to expect from its story. Unfortunately in my opinion the book is not well divided, or the title is a little misleading.
Ada as a character but especially as a persona is awful. I really didn’t like her at all. In the end I found it very hard to finish the book, it was getting too unnerved.
The book gives you immediately an idea of how this girl is. She’s so full of herself and she wants at all costs to “become somebody”. I really don’t think that this is a bad thing, I want this to be clear, but you can see her act like that even in completely inappropriate situations, meaning: Even if EVERYONE told her not to leave for this Parisian escape - ended later in tragedy - she went anyway because she thought she had found the man of her life, someone that finally will help her be what she had always wanted, a popular and famous dressmaker.
This had sadly made me hate her character so much, and thanks to this, I wasn’t even a little touched by the finale.

The massive mistake to keep giving trust and being influenced and fooled so easily is repeated way too much and at some point you start asking yourself is she’s actually doing it on purpose…
The part where she is kept as a prisoner that I thought would actually be the main big part, is reduced at less like than one hundred pages.
The other two hundreds are dedicated to her life before and after the war, where Ada has a respectable job with even some rewards before and how she decides how to live her life after.

I didn’t like the story in general, as I already said I expected the book to be more focused on her story and experience in Dachau, instead this story is like the frame for the finale.
Despite the book not being that long because it’s around 300 pages, we jump too much forward in time, everything is written in a rush and it’s skipped a lot.
We go through a Christmas to a Spring with simply a paragraph, there are no chapters in here in fact.

In short, this book as a lot of potential, but the story is way too repetitive, where we have constantly to tolerate a childish girl too much self-assured that repeats every time the same stupid mistakes, with a pretty messy structure and especially a barely bearable main character.

I liked a lot the writing style, on the contrary, and it was thanks to it that I was able to reach the end of this book even if I skipped some parts during the very last pages because I couldn’t do it anymore.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :) .
960 reviews2,565 followers
December 30, 2015
I received an ARC of this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The copy of my book was titled “The Dressmakers War”.

I had not been requesting any books revolving around WWII since there has been a plethora of books written from almost every angle. This book however promised a new perspective.

Ada Vaughn is a 19 y/o young woman recently moved to London from a small town with the hopes of becoming a dressmaker, perhaps having a shop of her own. She starts work as a modiste for a well known and highly regarded dressmaker and begins to model her own designs. She longs for the life of the women who purchase her clothes. Just as she is becoming known for her designs she is swept off of her feet by a foreigner who promises her the life she desires in Paris. She goes with him to Paris but when war breaks out he leaves her and escapes on his own.

After being sheltered by nuns in a convent for some time, the nuns are forced to work in a hospital for Hitler’s German soldiers and the infirm. From there she is forced to sew and design for a commandant’s wife and her friends in a bare room with barely enough food to keep from starving and just enough blankets and fabric to keep her from freezing. She sews to save her life and she really knows nothing of what is really going on in Dachau.

When Dachau is finally liberated she lands back in London only to find it completely changed by the bombings and even more poor than before the war. She once again falls prey to a man who promises to make her life better and she continues to dream of a dressmaking shop.
Ada makes so many mistakes in judgement that I felt as though I wanted to warn her again and again not to trust the promises of men. It is a bit hard not to judge her decisions but the world was a very different place for a woman back then and she was very young when she was meant to endure almost inconceivable cruelty, tragedy and heartbreak.

The author is a professor of history and the details of the war in both London and what is happening in Dachau are well described and gripping. The story moves at a quick pace and I found myself finishing it in just a few sittings. This is definitely a different view of the war, describing another kind of imprisonment by Hitler’s army, one perhaps just as devastating.

I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, it is well written, tense, and enlightening.

Profile Image for Maria Roxana.
515 reviews
September 10, 2015
O carte pentru care cuvântul ”tulburător” își pierde din semnificație pentru că revolta, nedreptatea cu care se confundă sufletul Adei se pierd într-un cârcel sufletesc atunci când ajungi la finalul ”poveștii.”
Războiul este de fapt o materializare a orgoliilor prostești. În urma lui rămân suflete schilodite, destine modificate și întrebări cu ” de ce?” la care nu există oricum răspuns.
Recomand cu căldură această minunată carte!
Profile Image for Ana Stanciu-Dumitrache.
730 reviews88 followers
November 9, 2017
Croitoreasa de la Dachau e o poveste extrem de tristă despre condiția femeii într-o societate marcată de război și de urmările acestuia. Ada e o tânără cu multe visuri, talentată și inocentă, plină de speranțe și încredere. O serie de circumstanțe nefavorabile și de decizii proaste o aduc însă în fața unui sfârșit dureros. E un personaj complex care îți stârnește atât compasiune, cât și repulsie. O judeci pentru naivitatea ei, dar o apreciezi pentru felul în care luptă să supraviețuiască și se agață de visul ei. O detești când încearcă să-și provoace un avort spontan, însă îți e milă de ea când e bătută, înfometată și umilită. După terminarea războiului, nu mai rămâne nimic din vechea Ada și tocmai asta e partea tristă. Majoritatea romanelor despre război prezintă niște supravietuitori, niște persoane care reușesc să-și păstreze umanitatea, sa ierte și să meargă mai departe. Ada în schimb nu e suficient de puternică să facă asta și se agață de resentimente și dorința de răzbunare. Mi-a părut rău de ea și cred că a fost judecată prea aspru. Nu a fost în lagăr, dar asta nu înseamnă că a suferit mai puțin. Romanul are un impact emoțional puternic, pentru că te face să asiști la decăderea Adei, la transformarea ei dintr-o fată inocentă și încrezătoare, într-o prostituată și o criminală, în cele din urmă. Recomand acest roman, m-a surpins datorită personajului principal și datorită faptului că nu seamănă deloc cu ceea ce am citit până acum despre cel de-al doilea război mondial. Romanul spune povestea unei femei a cărei viață a fost distrusă de război, ale cărei acțiuni au fost judecate și condamnate, a cărei vis a ținut-o în viață în Germania nazistă, dar nu a mai reușit să o ajute și în Londra.
Profile Image for Laura.
676 reviews98 followers
July 21, 2016
Ava is young, ambitious and naive. She dreams of designing her own dresses and selling them to the upper class women of London. Luckily, she has a natural talent, and her life is pretty much mapped out. That is until she meets a charming and mysterious gentleman who whisks her away for a romantic break in Paris, where she can study French fashion and purchase materials for her collection. And then war breaks out.

This was a brilliant read set among the dramatic and desolate times of the mid twentieth century. The reader joins Ava on her journey through wartime as she is faced with horrendous situations that require all her strength to survive. I had assumed she would be placed in a concentration camp, but I was mistaken. However, that doesn't mean she was never a prisoner. There is more than one type of war.

I felt the author was very respectful in her approach to the difficulties women faced in wartime. Ava is flawed, but undeniably a good woman at heart. She didn't deserve what happens to her - the novel is breathtakingly sad at times. I would love the author to continue writing books of this genre; I was captivated until the last page.



159 reviews
June 13, 2016
I'm in a good mood this morning, so I'll give this book 2 stars. I had a lot of hope for this historical novel--the setting is WWII England and Germany, the main character a young woman supremely skilled at dressmaking. Unfortunately, the characters are all one-dimensional, either completely evil or naively innocent and good. The main character makes the same mistakes over and over again ad infinitum, always choosing the wrong man, making poor life choices (such as choosing to become a prostitute), and never once learning anything from her mistakes. Luckily, you never come to care about her, so there's little emotional impact.
Profile Image for Theresa Smith.
Author 5 books146 followers
December 3, 2016
I feel entirely mislead about this book. The blurb is not reflective of the story at all. This story had all the promise of greatness: a dressmaker in a concentration camp, surviving against the odds. I was instantly intrigued. Well for a start, the dressmaker wasn't in a camp. Yes, she was kept prisoner, and her story was still an intriguing one, but why mislead on the cover? There was no love story either, again, deliberately misleading. Nor was she abandoned in Paris. As frustrating as I found this poorly written blurb, the book turned out to be equally as disappointing. The style of writing was very impersonal and disjointed. I never felt Ada and her struggle. I never felt her misery. I read about it, but the author never once made me feel. Only just over half of this book relates to Ada and her experiences as a Nazi dressmaker. From this, the author took Ada back to London and decided to turn her into a delusional prostitute. I should have stopped reading then. Towards the end of the story, we find out that events in the war were not quite what they seemed at the time. We were left to consider that Ada truly was delusional, so what else was a lie? I really did not like this inference. The author should have just been up front at the outset, it would have made for a more credible main character. The ending was atrocious. Probably historically accurate, but awful still. I feel as though the author had a fantastic idea for a story but got sick of it half way through and decided to write another without changing books. If you're looking for a WWII story of substance, don't read this book. It's not what it seems.
Profile Image for Mojca Anel Lav.
25 reviews11 followers
June 8, 2021
Meri Čemberlejn - Neobični dar Ejde Von

London, 1939 godina
Mlada Ejda Von radi kao krojačica u modnom salonu. Sanja o Parizu, modnim pistama, dizajniranju, slavnom imenu i modnoj kući koju bi nazvala Von.

Život će joj se promeniti kada upozna šarmantnog i galantnog Stanislausa, navodnog grofa.

Zaljubljenu nije je tesko nagovoriti na put u Pariz. Nada se povratku sa prstenom na ruci.
U Parizu ih zatiče početak rata. Beže u Namir gde on misteriozno nestaje ostavljajući je samu.
Samu i trudnu.

Rat preživljava zahvaljujući svom umeću šivenja.
Zarobljeništvo, glad, maltretiranje, iživljavanje... Rastanak od deteta 💔.

Po završetku rata vraća se u London zamišljajući zagrljaje svojih najmilijih. Sudbina se okrutno poigra sa njom i u njen život se vraća ni manje ni više nego Stenli iliti Stanislaus

Ali...

Ubistvo...
Zatvor...
Suđenje...
Spoznaja da njen mali dečak...

Ova mi je knjiga razbila čitalačku blokadu. Držala mi je pažnju od početka do kraja.
Čitala je sa grčom u stomaku, suzama u očima. Jedna od retkih koja na realan način prikazuje strahote rata.
Nadala se nekom drugom kraju. Da mi makar na sekundu zaigra osmeh na licu.

Ali...

Ogromna preporuka 💞
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
167 reviews20 followers
August 4, 2017
I couldn't put this book down. I found it fascinating to hear how British citizens were held in Germany during the war. I mean you always hear of how Germans were held in the U.K. but this was a side of history that had fallen through the cracks. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys WWII historical fiction.
Profile Image for Irene.
459 reviews90 followers
March 27, 2017
Un buen libro que te hace reflexionar sobre las dificultades que muchas personas tuvieron que sufrir para sobrevivir. La historia de Ada es un relato de valentía y superación hasta el final. De fácil lectura, la autora ha conseguido envolverme en la realidad del personaje, pero el desenlace aunque muy real y verosímil me ha resultado muy duro, increíble, nunca mejor dicho.
La segunda guerra mundial es un telón de fondo, para contar algo mucho más crudo, la incomprensión de la sociedad de esa época con la labor de muchas mujeres durante la contienda. Desgarrador.

3,5
Profile Image for Natasa.
1,163 reviews
February 5, 2019
This book was like two stories in one, which was quite confusing. The before and after of WW2 for the main character. Something kept me reading though, I wanted to find out what happened. But the main character annoyed me. 
Profile Image for Andreea.
366 reviews234 followers
October 27, 2015
Pana s-o primesc cadou, n-am auzit deloc de Croitoreasa de la Dachau. Insa prietenele mele, care stiu ca-s o pseudo-croitoreasa, care stiu ca am fost la Dachau si ca am o fetita pe care o cheama Ada, s-au gandit ca-i perfecta pentru mine. Si a fost. Genul de carte pe care n-o poti lasa din mana pentru ca vrei sa stii ce pateste eroina principala, unde o duce viata prin razboi si dupa el, daca scapa, daca se termina cu bine.
Lasand la o parte faptul ca romanul e lipsit de descrieri generale si se focuseaza exclusiv pe personajul principal (nu cred ca exista un rand in carte care sa nu fie despre Ada, gandurile ei, trairile si emotiile ei), destinul aceste femei nu e deloc unul de invidiat. Mi-a placut de ea doar in momentele ei grele, atunci cand era subjugata. Desi ii puteam intelege dorinta de a arata mereu bine, de a fi admirata si de a parea ceea ce nu era, o doamna cu clasa, Ada recurge la cele mai nedemne metode de a supravietui. Dar ce poti face in vremea razboiului si dupa el. E o carte trista, cu un final si mai trist.
Profile Image for Annette Chidzey.
234 reviews3 followers
July 6, 2015
The Dressmaker of Dachau was an interesting account. Ada Vaughan was somewhat of an enigma- strong and decisive at times- naive and frustrating on other occasions. I am not quite sure how I feel about her. What does emerge in this novel is the all too familiar powerless plight of women that seems to typify much of history. It seems that being successful, ambitious or determined often comes at a cost personally or professionally, Ada being no exception.
Profile Image for Anna.
430 reviews46 followers
September 11, 2017
I'd had this on my Kindle for ages but had forgotten what it was about (apart from WWII obviously, and I was offline at the time so couldn't check the blurb). As it turned out, going into it 'blind' was the best thing to do as it didn't go the way I assumed it would at all.

Born in the backstreets of London, 18 year old seamstress Ada has dreams of opening her own fashion house one day. Naive and trusting yet ambitious, she meets the exotic Stanislaus, a meeting which will change her life forever but not in she way she hopes. He fills head with promises and sweeps her away to Paris, but when WWII breaks out they are unable to return home and are forced to flee to Namur in Belgium just before it falls to the Nazis...and that's pretty much all I'll say about the plot. I realise that's not much inducement, but not knowing what will happen to Ada during and after the war really is the way to go. I'll just add that despite Dachau being in the title, this isn't set in that camp although Ada can see its smoking chimneys from her barred window.

I was completely engrossed with this story, and loved Ada. She makes mistakes which lead to her own personal hell, but it's not just her mistakes that lead her there; she isn't a strong feisty heroine who takes on the war and wins like many do in this genre, she's a normal, young, inexperienced girl who suffers horribly through war, who lives in a time where a woman's role and worth are very much secondary to a mans, and where mental health issues aren't even considered. It's a bleak and thought-provoking read about a desperate and heartbreaking era, but there's always hope....isn't there?
Profile Image for Stephanie Anze.
657 reviews110 followers
March 1, 2016
Ada is a talented dressmaker, living in London, that dreams of opening her own house of fashion someday. At eighteen, she is also naive, so when she meets a mysterious man that promises her the world, she does not hesitate to follow him. Its the eve of WWII and despite warnings, Ada and her mystery man leave for Paris. It is a decision that is going to alter the course of her life.

This novel was compared to Anthony Doerr's All the Lights We Cannot See. Frankly, I think the comparisons are unwarranted. First off, I have to say that I actually liked the premise, its a different angle for a book about WWII and the Holocaust. By all accounts I should have loved this book but there are some issues. While Ada's naiveness was initially endearing, as the story progressed, I questioned her decisions to a point of frustration. There is no denying that Ada faced horrific circumstances but while she was like-able, it was tough to understand some of the choices she made, especially after the war was over. It was not til the last third of the novel that we see a more complete picture of who Ada is, that is when you begin to really feel for her. The details revealed towards the end were surprising, and rather shocking. In the end, I did root for Ada, but I wish the first two parts of the book had been better crafted. As far as the reading experience goes, the novel was good but not quite what I expected.
Profile Image for May.
734 reviews64 followers
October 8, 2016
I am glad I read this novel. The ramification of Ada's troubled choices before, during and after WW II created an uncomfortable story line. Several times, my response was "really?" "what are you doing?" I so badly wanted her to succeed as a dressmaker! I accept that my reactions are that of a woman today. It wasn't until I read the author's notes that I fully appreciated the way the war era was rigged against women.
Profile Image for Cristina.
33 reviews3 followers
August 28, 2015
Cutremuratoare, revoltatoare....cata usurare atunci cand, la final, autoarea spune ca personajele sunt fictive, caractere fictionale....
Profile Image for Sarah.
17 reviews2 followers
May 14, 2016
I didn't like the main character-- she was completely aloof and it was hard to connect with such a character. Beginning was ok but hard to finish. Disappointed!!
Profile Image for Angelique Simonsen.
1,247 reviews22 followers
January 13, 2019
Surprising ending to this book. Well told with the completely fictional character of ada who is forever making the wrong decisions. How love will turn your head and then return to haunt you
Profile Image for Amy.
28 reviews3 followers
June 9, 2017
This book ruined my day. It was so depressing and not in a good way. Everything that could go wrong for this girl did, it just kept snowballing... Like a gigantic snowball of doom and gloom rolling along getting more gloomy and doomy with each and thus lost all effectiveness. The worst part is that right from the beginning I wanted to slap some sense into the stupid character and so I just could not sympathize with her. I would love to go back and unread this book.
Profile Image for Lara Morrow.
59 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2017
This was so difficult to get through. It was a book for my book club or I wouldn't have finished it. The main character makes dumb mistake after mistake and wonders why bad things keep happening to her.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 707 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.