The Dressmaker’s War

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The Dressmaker’s War

For readers of Amy Bloom, Sarah Waters, and Anthony Doerr, The Dressmaker’s War is a riveting work of historical fiction about a woman caught in the chaos of World War II, and the choices she must make to survive.

A Lori & Julia Book club choice


“Mary Chamberlain’s clear, bright prose is river-swift, and Ada Vaughan is a character rich with beautiful, flawed humanity. This is a gripping story about limits and the haunting, brutal way they can be drawn and redrawn in war.” Priya Primar, author of Vanessa and Her Sisters.

A powerful, riveting work of historical fiction, The Dressmaker’s War is the story of a brilliant English dressmaker taken prisoner in Germany during World War II. It is about her perseverance, the choices she makes to stay alive, and the haunting aftermath of war.

London, spring 1939. Eighteen-year-old Ada Vaughan is an ambitious and highly talented dressmaker who dreams of leaving behind her working-class roots, opening her own atelier and making a better life for herself. Everything changes when, trapped in Europe at the outbreak of war, Ada is taken prisoner by the Germans. Abandoned and alone as war rages, forced to work as a dressmaker, Ada’s skill for creating beauty and glamour is the one thing that keeps her alive – but the choices she makes to survive will come to back to haunt her years later, with devastating consequences.

From glamorous London hotels and Parisian cafes to the desperation of wartime Germany, THE DRESSMAKER’S WAR is a mesmerizing story of heartbreak, survival and ambition, of the nature of truth, and the untold story of women in war.  Gorgeously written and compulsively readable, The Dressmaker’s War introduces us to an unforgettable heroine—Ada Vaughan, a woman whose ambition for a better life ultimately comes with a heartbreaking cost.

“Mary Chamberlain’s haunting and poignant debut work of fiction is one readers will carry with them for years to come.”  The Historical Novels Society.

“I’ve read a lot of WWII-era fiction…’The Dressmaker’s War’ was unlike any I have read…(it) offers a different perspective, a reminder of how so many people faced their own, unique hellish wars.” Andi Russell, The  Free-Lance Star,

“The Dressmaker’s War …serves to remind us of the innumerable unknown victims of WWII and the often unmentioned hardships of survivors after a war has ended.” Haley Leuthart, EverydayEbook. via sharethis

“skillful historical fiction novel” The Book Page

“Mary Chamberlain’s novel ‘The Dressmaker’s War’ is a well-plotted, event-filled book… whale of a tale… a rousing read. It’s a good debut by an author previously known as a historian.” Brigitte Frase, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

I really enjoyed Chamberlain’s sharp prose, excellent pacing, and amazing ability to achieve terror and unease, not with detailed descriptions of the horrors of Nazi death camps, but with the opposite.  Ada doesn’t know where she is or what the Nazi’s are doing, but the reader does, and your own imagination fills in the details. Heather Clawson, The San Francisco Book Review





THE DRESSMAKER’S WAR was published by Random House in January 2016.