Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Hatmaker's Heart" by Carla Stewart

With this novel, Carla Stewart has taken a step back farther in time than she usually writes about and has created a story set in the Roaring 20's.  The heroine, Nell Marchwold, dreams of designing and making hats.  It is sheer joy to her to have a woman try on a hat she designed and witness that woman see herself as beautiful and poised, whether the woman is outwardly beautiful or not.  For Nell it is not about fame.  As an apprentice hatmaker at Oscar Fields Millinery in New York she works hard for her employer even though he is a hard taskmaster and can be quite belittling.  When she is called upon to design hats for a valued customer and her daughters, Nell's world is changed as she is thrown into the spotlight from the rave reviews on her designs.  Though thrilled with the business it brings, her boss is not too happy to not have the credit himself and is very skeptical when a up and coming fashion designer wants Nell to design the hats to go with his new collection.   With that success opportunity comes knocking to expand the business to England and he quickly has Nell on the ship with two assistants to design hats for a prominent family there who will be attending the wedding of the queen.  Thrilled to be going home, Nell hopes to visit her aging grandmother and her long time friend Quentin but her boss is quite adamant about controlling every moment of her time.   As Nell faces her feelings for Quentin, she has to decide what it is she really wants out of life.

I have enjoyed every Carla Stewart book that I have read and this was no exception.  For me, this author has a real gift at transporting the reader into another era.  The setting was quite different than her usual backgrounds being set in the 1920's rather than the 1960's.  It was interesting reading about the New York lifestyle during that time period.  Nell was an endearing character who drew you into her quiet world with her great attitude and her passion for hat making and seeing the blossoming of women as they wore her creations.  She is a character of high standards in her work and personal life.  I liked the glimpse we got into the life of a woman of that time, one with dreams of entering a field dominated and run by men, and especially a woman with a speech impediment and how she was treated because of it.    As family secrets are revealed and the pressure of the fashion business closes in on her, I really liked how Nell grew throughout the story and came into her own at the end.

5 comments:

Tori Leslie said...

This sounds like such a nice book, very interesting. BTW, I just realized that our children are the same age. our oldest two are boys and our daughter is 17. funny!

Melanie Cook said...

It sounds like an interesting book. I enjoy fiction written in an earlier time.

Carrie said...

This sounds like cozy reading.

And I love the cover art.

Barbara H. said...

I don't think I have ever read this author, but this sounds fascinating.

Faith said...

This sounds good! I don't think i know that author!