Carla Stewart, in her new book, "The Hatmaker's Heart" published by Abingdon Press takes us into the life of Nell Marchwold.
From the back cover: For Nell Marchwold, bliss is seeing the transformation when someone gets a glimpse in the mirror while wearing one of her creations and feels beautiful. Nell has always strived to create hats that bring out a woman's best qualities. She knows she's fortunate to have landed a job as an apprentice designer at the prominent Oscar Fields Millinery in New York City. Yet when Nell's fresh designs begin to catch on, her boss holds her back from the limelight, claiming the stutter she's had since childhood reflects poorly on her and his salon.
But it seems Nell's gift won't be hidden by Oscar's efforts. Soon an up-and-coming fashion designer is seeking her out as a partner of his 1922 collection. The publicity leads to an opportunity for Nell to make hats in London for a royal wedding. There, she sees her childhood friend, Quentin, and an unexpected spark kindles between them. But thanks to her success, Oscar is determined to keep her. As her heart tugs in two directions, Nell must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for her dream, and what her dream truly is.
Who would have thought the life of a Milliner, someone who makes hats or just sells to women, would have been so interesting? Obviously Carla Stewart. Welcome to The Jazz Age. It is 1922 and everyone wears hats and it seems that Nell's hats are in high demand. Now the issue comes down to whether or not Nell will be able to fulfill her dream or just be a part of Oscar's store. I enjoyed the exploration of a woman's role by Ms. Stewart. It was great to walk the streets of New York as it was back then and see how women were treated and how they wanted to be treated. Nell is such a great character and it is terrific the way she interacts with all the other characters that are in this book. And of course there is the romance. This is a delightful book that you will not want to end.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I've never been one to follow fashion so I never gave much thought to the design of clothing. This novel centers around Nell, a hat designer in the 1920s for a New York milliner. She has a unique ability to create hats that accentuate the woman's character and beauty. Her creations dazzle a well known woman who spreads the word. Soon Nell is being asked by a famous dress designer to partner with him for his 1922 line.
The owner of the millinery is not one to share credit and he tries to keep Nell under his thumb. Part of the novel's attraction for me was seeing Nell work hard to come into the reality of her dream, despite the milliner. He was really quite a despicable man.
Nell is a wonderful character. She doesn't have an ounce of greed or pride in her. Unlike the milliner, Nell just wants to make women look beautiful and loves creating unique hats to that effect. Her use of fashion is to accent the inner beauty of of women. Nell's glaring problem is that she stammers (or stutters). It was very interesting to read about the cutting edge (at that time) work to understand the cause of the behavior and correct it.
And there is a little bit of romance but it is not the focus of the novel. The theme of the novel is more about working hard and having courage to follow your dream, particularly when that dream centers around helping others look and feel better. Part of that involves Nell understanding how she's come to be the person she is. In a sense, the novel is almost an adult coming of age novel, particularly in an era when women were coming into their own careers.
I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy historical settings of a different time and place. The Roaring Twenties were quite a time and Stewart does a good job in bringing it to life for us. It will be particular interest to those wanting insight into the fashion industry of that era. I would also recommend this novel to those who enjoy reading a story that concentrates on giving to others.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
For fans of Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, you will absolutely adore the latest novel from best selling author, Carla Stewart, The Hatmaker's Heart! With extraordinary talent and coming from a wealthy family background in London, milliner Nell Marchwold is making a name for herself with her unique and sought after hats under the Oscar Field's brand. Hoping that one day she might have her very own label, she knows that patience will be required working as an assistant designer for Mr. Fielding. He seems pleased that her hats are flying off the shelves and buyers are increasing their demand for them in private consultations but realizes that Nell is a virtual goldmine to his millinery and without her, he would be penniless. He will do whatever it takes to ensure her permanent employment even if it means less than scrupulous management techniques to keep her there.
When a fashion designer spots Nell's uncanny talent, he offers her a chance of a lifetime to showcase her hats alongside his dress designs at a fashion show. Even though he wants to spotlight Nell's designs, Mr. Fields wants to ensure that these hats can be purchased at Oscar Field's Millinery and no where else. He seems a bit fearful to let Nell to gain any popularity for her hats but when a royal wedding in London requests hats to be designed by Nell, she will have to leave the comforts of New York City and head to London. Nell will have to face her long lost childhood friend, Quentin and hopes that she can find a place in his heart as more than a friend. Mr. Field's has other plans in store for the time Nell will be spending in London and that will have very little time for visiting with Quentin or even her ailing grandmother. Will Nell make the right decision or will she have to place her dreams on hold for love?
I received The Hatmaker's Heart by Carla Stewart compliments of Faith Words, a division of Hachette Book Groups and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. Being a fan of historical fashion, I loved Carla's attention to detail in capturing the very essence of New York City during the 1920's at the height of the jazz movement when styles were constantly changing. Nell's character undergoes quite the transformation from being a women with a beautiful talent that she can't appreciate because of a stammer she developed as a child. While she struggles to overcome adversity and find self acceptance both in the working world and as woman in the 20's, she has a longing for love and strong commitment to her family that will be tested in profound ways. This is a must read for those that love fashion, historical and romantic fiction! I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars and can't wait for her next novel A Flying Affair to debut!