June 1940. As Paris, the City of Light, approaches its darkest hour, a young woman treads the line between survival and collaboration. Londoner Cora Masson has reinvented herself as Coralie de Lirac, using a false claim to aristocratic birth to launch herself as a fashionable milliner.
When the Nazis invade, the influence of a high-ranking lover protects her business. But the cruel demands of war - and of love - cannot be kept at bay forever. Soon Coralie must find the courage to do what's necessary to protect her friends, her freedom and everything she believes in.
©2015 Natalie Meg Evans (P)2015 WF Howes Ltd
"Rich in detail, this is a pacy and engaging read, full of cloak and dagger intrigue, beautiful clothes and romance." (Sunday Mirror on The Dress Thief)
An enjoyable listen, I found the story line very good but it was too dragged out for my liking, it has a happy ending which I enjoy, I'm Sadden that the main male character didn't make it with Coralie, as I found him a most except able fellow. Then again he was German and it is set during the war so I guess one has to die, you were a lovely character Coralie, as was your love.
"Absolutely Beautiful Story! A must read!"
An epic love story. A story of being human. A love affair with Paris. War, betrayal, passion, suffering, and hope. Twists and turns galore that will have you spellbound. Oh yes, and a fine heaping dose of glamour and couture fashion. What more can ask for in a book? An exceptional writer? Natalie Meg Evans is just that. Perfection!
"Immerse yourself in another time"
Even though there are flaws in this book, I enjoyed it and would read another by this author. I actually quite enjoyed the fashion and millinery aspects to the book and found myself looking up styles of hats and French fashion in WW2. The story is a tad farfetched at times, but it's forgivable and it hangs together if you accept the twists and turns as is. The narrator didn't have a grasp of French pronunciation but was excellent at the different characters, which ultimately is more important. For those of us that are bothered by this sort of thing, there is minimal explicit violence or sexual scenes and no swearing that I can recall. My kind of book! If you can't escape winter with a holiday, take a trip to a Parisian hat shop during WW2.
"Learn to pronounce the words first!"
I am just starting to listen to it so I will up date this. But I am only 10 minutes into the story and the reader has mispronounced several words repeatedly. There should be a test that you understand how to pronounce the words in the book before you are allowed to do this. People who speak French are going to be very annoyed.
"Amazing, you won't want to stop listening"
This was one of my favorite books ever. I listened to "The Nightingale" prior to listening to this. It was a great follow up. So many different story angles without getting too confusing. Fast paced and will keep you wanting more!
I liked all of the character descriptions. I felt as if I could really visualize them and know them as the people they were
I listened to "The English German Girl" after listening to this. I enjoy Julie Teal's narration and I am very picky with narrators.
I would keep the title of "The Milliner's Secret". It fits perfectly.
The only thing I found confusing in the book was the many names that Dietrich had. I found myself googling the meaning of his nickname "Graf" and "Grafin" (which when narrated sounded like "grafinvon" etc.)
"Epic, Love it - it's s'good!"
I love WWII books, and have listened or read all of them and this book, ugh it was SO GOOD. The story was a refreshing twist compared to others in it's genre,haute-couture is not usually a topic you come across too often in wwii books so it added a fun plot line. I never really gave millinery a thought and just figured their business slowed as much as everyone else's but I learned that none of their materials were rationed and you got an inside look into how cut throat millenery was in 1940's Paris - and was it ever!
The characters are complex, intriguing and well thought. Their stories blended beautifully and you even found some compassion for some of the less favorable ones (briefly lol) At times you would think the story took a complete 180 with a different tangent but they would all interweave within the story flawlessly, and always added such exciting, shocking twists.
This story had a lot of layers to it and was very complex but not once did I feel that any part wasn't essential. The historical details were accurate and helped move along the story.
"Complete Waste Of Time And Money"
The deception of the preface vis-a-vis the plot or story. Having recently read "Light of the Moon" by Elzabeth Buchan and found it fascinating, thie brief description of this audiobook caught my attention. Shame on me - will do more research next time - can not believe the reviewers listened to the same book as I.
I can not speak Gernman, so can make no comments regarding the critical reviews on the way she pronounces certain words; nor can I think of three words to describe her narration - one imagines she did the best she could considering what she had to read.
This was not an audiobook with scenes - it was a circus with a variety of characters wandering in and out every five minutes - making no real contribution to the story and disappearing without explanation. The premise of the book - or as much of it as I can understand - is that drop dead gorgeous Cora Masson flees a drunken and abusive father in a small village near London, makes her way to Paris during its occupation by Germany, becomes romantically involved with a high- ranking German officer who changes her name to "Coralie," and surfaces as the owner of a fashionable millinary shop. However, this is the point at which the author turns Coralie into "Super Woman - she sews hats, she sings, she dances, she cooks, she nurses and heals the sick or wounded, she hides various Jewish people from the German authorities - and still finds time to be a mother and dabble in the French underground resistance movement. I have listened to this nonsense almost to the end of Part 2, and am still unable to understand by what magic she, out of all the dozens of characters in the book, escapes notice, capture, internment, etc., by the overly suspicious Gestapo; especially since her lover, Von-whatever (he also has several names), is heavily implicated in a plot to kill Hitler.
Save your time and money - buy and listen to "Light of the Moon" - you will enjoy it more than once !!
I love WW2 fiction and have been making my way through all of the books I can find on this time period. this is such a great story. a little hard to follow at times but a great book.
"A new favorite"
I love this book. it was well written and well narrated. this has become a new favorite for me.
Wonderful story! You fall in love with the main characters in the book & are instantly engrossed. The audio was incredible - I could hardly wait for the ride to work!
"Too much "how to make a hat""
I really enjoyed the sisterhood in the novel and the portrayal of women as both feminine and strong in character and dignity as they chose to travel the dangerous road of resistance abettors.
The twists and turns were appealing and I was able to experience the story as though I was there throughout.
I'm looking forward to listening again because there's always a nuance that's missed the first time.
"So sad to finish this book"
I just loved this book and was sad to finish it and leave the characters. I've listened to The Dress Thief too and did like but this is better.
Such a wonderful story which keeps you gripped all the way through - impressive given the length of the story.
"A GRIPPING PAGE TURNER!"
This book is in my top five of the books I have read over the two years I've been a member! I could not put it down reading into the he wee hours of the night! The story weaves itself from London, just before the second World War, to the Nazis occupation of Paris with all the atrocities this brought on the Parisians. Entwined through this is a love story between a young English Milliner, posing as a French woman, and a high ranking German Officer. The narration is excellent and she brings the story to life! I'll definitely read more by this author.
"A poignant enthralling story"
I haven't read the print version but generally prefer the audio as the narrators bring life to a book
It is similar to Natalie Meg Evans' The Dress Thief but is far more interesting and enthralling. It was similar in a way to the Lavender Keeper by Fiona McInTosh in that the heroine gets involved with a German Officer but also has another love interest in the background and is based in Paris in the War
No but I will look out for her in the future
Yes it was an emotional book, especially at the end. I also felt for Coralie when she sent her daughter away, as many mothers did during that time.
It was an interesting story built around an uncertain era but lightened by the descriptions of the various hats made by Coralie and the fashions of the time. It had many little incidents throughout the book which kept my attention throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed this book
Recommend this to my book club friends. Full of twists and turns and vibrant. Loved it.
"Absorbing story lots of bad pronunciation!"
I would definitely not - I think reading it might be more enjoyable as the narrator could not pronounce French and marred the story telling by her appalling mispronunciations. Why use an actress who cannot pronounce basic French words like "Guerre" when the book is set in Paris and involves repeated use of certain French names and words - bad choice. Other than this the story was intriguing and enjoyable and the narrator was mostly good at storytelling and at characterisation.
I don't really have favourite characters in books but Coralie the heroine was great - not perfect but human and flawed.
Good characterisation for the most part except for her bad pronuciations of names, places and French Words. I think she continually mispronounced the Hero's name - I think it was Dietrich which she repeatedly pronounced as Diertrich - this was grating. She did also give some characters slightly odd accents - like Serge Martell and the forger - but mostly I liked her characterisation especially of Una.
I didn't feel moved but I did enjoy the story and the dilemmas and dramas and choices. Aspects were a bit unreal and tidied away - Dietrich's pain over his son's death and the way he held that against Coralie was a bit too swiftly resolved - on the whole the love story did not hold true for me. Coralie also relinquished her daughter without too much angst on her part - the most moving bits were about the poor Jews being shipped out of Paris.
Natalie Meg Evans really writes a good tale that keeps you hooked - she has some rather convenient ways of putting obstacles in the way then removing them when it suits her and her baddies are always simplified and over stated with no redeeming features or apparent human qualities - this book was so much better than The Dress Thief for plotting and for interest in the story and she does write well of the period. My enjoyment of the story was really hindered though by the fact that the narrator did not know how to pronounce so many foreign names and words - I don't understand how such shoddy editing can be allowed in a professional publication. It made some of the words and phrases actually incomprehensible. Why not either hire an actress who has some understanding of foreign pronunciation or get someone to help her with the tricky words? It seems nobody paid attention to this sort of detail. Such a shame as the narration was otherwise pretty good and I liked her voice.
"Loved this book"
I liked the story line and the characters. Brought the past so much to life. I also love the narrator. I've listened to several of her narrations and enjoy them.
Now off to download the Dress Thief Natalie's first book.
The skilled narration brings each character to life, adding depth to a fab story about survival.
"An intense and gripping experience"
The best this year, with compelling and memorable main characters, fascinating minor ones
Coralie, for her highly individualist approach to life and her honest attitude to love and relationships. I also love Una Kilpin-McBride, who makes a welcome reappearance from an earlier audio book, The Dress Thief
The final, shocking denouement which shows the power of a truly unselfish love
Coralie's choices - generated by love - rebound on her. I'm thinking particularly of a harrowing scene in which she hands her child into the care of a friend, to protect her from the terrible dangers of Nazi occupation. I also found the epilogue in which Coralie's eventual happiness is established very touching. It is upbeat, but never sentimental. The ending honours some of the tough realities dealt with in the book. It makes you root for the human spirit, but also understand the cruel choices people were forced to make during the war.
Natalie Meg Evans writes feel-good fiction that pulls no punches. Its detail is rich and reassuring; she clearly does her research. Historical fact is added like a subtle seasoning, essential but never overdone. This is a well-read audio book that can be listened to over many hours and becomes so gripping, you don't want to turn it off. I didn't want it to end.
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