From the award-winning author of The Dress Thief comes a love story set in the glittering world of London theatre. Perfect for fans of Gill Paul and Lucinda Riley.
London 1945. A young war widow steps aboard a train in search of a new life. Clutching the key to a mysterious inheritance, Vanessa Kingcourt can no longer resist the pull of the old Farren Theatre – an enchanted place seeped in memories of her actor father.
Now owned by troubled former captain Alistair Redenhall, The Farren is in need of a Wardrobe Mistress and a new lease of life. With no experience and no budget for supplies, Vanessa must use her intuition to create beautiful costumes from whatever scraps of silk and thread survived the blitz. It’s a seemingly impossible task, but a welcome distraction as she struggles to resist her blossoming feelings for Alistair.
What Vanessa discovers could unravel family secrets sewn deep into the very fabric of the London theatre scene . . . but will she repeat the same terrible mistakes her father made? And can she dare to love a man who will never be hers?
Published August 10th 2017 by Quercus (UK)
I absolutely adored the look and sound of this book. That cover is so evocative of the time it’s set in, and with the fascinating theater setting and the promise of a long held secret I was really looking forward to immersing myself in this novel.
The Wardrobe Mistress begins with a six year old Vanessa visiting the theater with her father and being mesmerised by the beautiful and mysterious atmosphere. When her father takes her backstage to meet the wardrobe mistress, Eva St Clair, Vanessa is bewitched. Years later, after serving in the WAAF, Vanessa is drawn back to the Farren theater and takes on the role of wardrobe mistress herself. But she’s about to discover her connections to the theater run deeper than she ever imagined as she goes on a journey to find out who she really is.
The first chapter of this book sets a wonderful atmosphere as, through the eyes of a young Vanessa, the reader is introduced to the glamour and wonder of the theater. Vanessa’s father is enigmatic and mysterious, even more so as he disappears shortly afterwards back to the world of the theater and it was clear there was an intriguing secret to unfurl in the coming pages and I settled down to absorb it.
The book is full of wonderful descriptions of vivacious and larger than life characters, however it was the ill fated romance between Vanessa and the suave and serious Naval Commander come theater owner, Alastair, which really captured my imagination. This is a romance which blossomed slowly, beginning with animosity but dripping with chemistry and made all the more irresistible due to it’s seemingly impossibility.
I loved the scenes set in the theater environment, both when Vanessa is a young girl and later as an employee. I did find the pace of the book slowed down quite early on, while Vanessa serves in the WAAF, and I worried that I wasn’t going to love this book as much as I’d hoped. However, this stage is only very brief and as Vanessa embarks on her career in the theater and secrets and intrigue are slowly revealed, I became hooked again and particularly enjoyed the final third of this book.
The Wardrobe Mistress is a fascinating glimpse into the world of theater in the post war years, as attitudes and fashions change and make way for a new generation of theater employees and audiences. It’s filled with mystery and atmosphere – I was desperate to know what secrets were held by the key given to Vanessa and why her mother had seemingly turned her back on her. I was also caught up in the thrilling intensity of the romance between the two main characters as they danced around each other, trying and failing to deny their attraction. This is the first book I’ve read by Natalie Meg Evans, I think I’ve been missing out and will certainly be looking out for more in the future!
(I read this book courtesy of the publishers)