Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Hatmaker's Heart by Carla Stewart

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 am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.

Carla Stewart has had articles appear in several publications and has written four novels. Her debut novel, Chasing Lilacs, was an Oklahoma Book Award Finalist, the trophy winner for the 2011 Nest Fiction for Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. and received second place honors in RWA's Inspirational Readers Choice Award for 2011. She and her husband live in the Tulsa area, have four adult sons and six grandchildren. You can find out more at www.carlastewart.com.

FaithWords, 320 pages. You can purchase a copy here.

I received a complimentary egalley through Litfuse for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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