Title: The Tailor’s Girl
Author: Fiona McIntosh
Published: Penguin October 2013
Status: Read from November 29 to 30, 2013 — I own a copy
I’ve been eager to read The Tailor’s Girl, having liked everything I have read by Fiona McIntosh, in fact a glowing quote from my review of her last novel, The French Promise appears on the book jacket of this novel. Yet I have to confess that I was disappointed by this story that is essentially a historical romance, which is not my favourite genre.
The characters are appealing, ‘Tom’ is a charming wounded war hero who inspires sympathy as he struggles with amnesia after fighting on the front. Eden is a sweetheart with an innate core of strength who wants more than to be just a wife and mother, with dreams of being a successful designer and seamstress. I desperately wanted them both to find happiness and I was invested in their relationship, which is wildly romantic.
The setting and period are vividly drawn from the English countryside, to the streets of Paris, and the grandeur of London’s Savile Row. McIntosh touches on the post Great War challenges faced not only by the returning soldiers but also the women whose new found freedoms were curtailed upon their return.
But I was dissatisfied with the story of the The Tailor’s Girl. I found the plot to be entirely predictable, and its major turning points were horribly cliche, though I can’t reveal them without risking spoilers. The entire story also felt oddly familiar but it wasn’t until another reviewer pointed out the strong similarities of this story to an old movie, ‘Bitter Harvest’ (based on a novel) released in 1942 (starring Ronald Colman and Greer Garson)that I realised why. To be fair though the details are McIntosh’s own, different from the film’s, and the amnesia trope is common in both film and fiction.
I want to be clear that my disappointment with the novel is purely a matter of genre preference, the writing is of McIntosh’s usual high standard and I found the characters and setting appealing. As such, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Tailor’s Girl to any reader who enjoys historical romance, but I have to admit this isn’t a favourite of mine.
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