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The Seamstress of New Orleans

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Set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century, the acclaimed author’s mesmerizing historical novel tells of two strangers separated by background but bound by an unexpected secret—and of the strength and courage women draw from and inspire in each other. The year 1900 ushers in a new century and the promise of social chang Set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century, the acclaimed author’s mesmerizing historical novel tells of two strangers separated by background but bound by an unexpected secret—and of the strength and courage women draw from and inspire in each other. The year 1900 ushers in a new century and the promise of social change, and women rise together toward equality. Yet rules and restrictions remain, especially for women like Alice Butterworth, whose husband has abruptly disappeared. Desperate to make a living for herself and the child she carries, Alice leaves the bitter cold of Chicago far behind, offering sewing lessons at a New Orleans orphanage. Constance Halstead, a young widow reeling with shock under the threat of her late husband’s gambling debts, has thrown herself into charitable work. Meeting Alice at the orphanage, she offers lodging in exchange for Alice’s help creating a gown for the Leap Year ball of Les Mysterieuses, the first all female krewe of Mardi Gras. During Leap Years, women have the rare opportunity to take control in their interactions with men, and upend social convention. Piece by piece, the breathtaking gown takes shape, becoming a symbol of strength for both women, reflecting their progress toward greater independence. But Constance carries a burden that makes it impossible to feel truly free. Her husband, Benton, whose death remains a dangerous mystery, was deep in debt to the Black Hand, the vicious gangsters who controlled New Orleans’ notorious Storyville district. Benton’s death has not satisfied them. And as the Mardi Gras festivities reach their fruition, a secret emerges that will cement the bond between Alice and Constance even as it threatens the lives they’re building . . . Story Locale: 1900, New Orleans


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Set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century, the acclaimed author’s mesmerizing historical novel tells of two strangers separated by background but bound by an unexpected secret—and of the strength and courage women draw from and inspire in each other. The year 1900 ushers in a new century and the promise of social chang Set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century, the acclaimed author’s mesmerizing historical novel tells of two strangers separated by background but bound by an unexpected secret—and of the strength and courage women draw from and inspire in each other. The year 1900 ushers in a new century and the promise of social change, and women rise together toward equality. Yet rules and restrictions remain, especially for women like Alice Butterworth, whose husband has abruptly disappeared. Desperate to make a living for herself and the child she carries, Alice leaves the bitter cold of Chicago far behind, offering sewing lessons at a New Orleans orphanage. Constance Halstead, a young widow reeling with shock under the threat of her late husband’s gambling debts, has thrown herself into charitable work. Meeting Alice at the orphanage, she offers lodging in exchange for Alice’s help creating a gown for the Leap Year ball of Les Mysterieuses, the first all female krewe of Mardi Gras. During Leap Years, women have the rare opportunity to take control in their interactions with men, and upend social convention. Piece by piece, the breathtaking gown takes shape, becoming a symbol of strength for both women, reflecting their progress toward greater independence. But Constance carries a burden that makes it impossible to feel truly free. Her husband, Benton, whose death remains a dangerous mystery, was deep in debt to the Black Hand, the vicious gangsters who controlled New Orleans’ notorious Storyville district. Benton’s death has not satisfied them. And as the Mardi Gras festivities reach their fruition, a secret emerges that will cement the bond between Alice and Constance even as it threatens the lives they’re building . . . Story Locale: 1900, New Orleans

30 review for The Seamstress of New Orleans

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: 'Howard Butterworth? I'm sorry, miss. We have no one by that name in this office. Could someone else be of assistance to you?' 'You have no one by that name. Are you certain? Look again, please. He works between here and the Memphis office. I'm sure he must be here.' 'No, miss.' The starched young woman ran her finger down a catalogued list of names. 'There is no Howard Butterworth in our records. I am personally acquainted with all of the gentlemen in this exchange, and I assure you, we EXCERPT: 'Howard Butterworth? I'm sorry, miss. We have no one by that name in this office. Could someone else be of assistance to you?' 'You have no one by that name. Are you certain? Look again, please. He works between here and the Memphis office. I'm sure he must be here.' 'No, miss.' The starched young woman ran her finger down a catalogued list of names. 'There is no Howard Butterworth in our records. I am personally acquainted with all of the gentlemen in this exchange, and I assure you, we have no one of that name in our employ.' 'I know he is here,' Alice insisted. 'He is my husband.' 'He may well be your husband, ma'am. But he is affiliated neither with the cotton exchange nor with this office in any capacity. Would you care to examine the list yourself? Or may I help you with anything else before you leave?' Alice stared at the woman's unrelenting face. After a month reality entered her body, and shock numbed her. There would be no verification here. No more than with the police. The Howard Butterworth she knew as her husband did not exist. ABOUT 'THE SEAMSTRESS OF NEW ORLEANS': The year 1900 ushers in a new century and the promise of social change, and women rise together toward equality. Yet rules and restrictions remain, especially for women like Alice Butterworth, whose husband has abruptly disappeared. Desperate to make a living for herself and the child she carries, Alice leaves the bitter cold of Chicago far behind, offering sewing lessons at a New Orleans orphanage. Constance Halstead, a young widow reeling with shock under the threat of her late husband’s gambling debts, has thrown herself into charitable work. Meeting Alice at the orphanage, she offers lodging in exchange for Alice’s help creating a gown for the Leap Year ball of Les Mysterieuses, the first all female krewe of Mardi Gras. During Leap Years, women have the rare opportunity to take control in their interactions with men, and upend social convention. Piece by piece, the breathtaking gown takes shape, becoming a symbol of strength for both women, reflecting their progress toward greater independence. But Constance carries a burden that makes it impossible to feel truly free. Her husband, Benton, whose death remains a dangerous mystery, was deep in debt to the Black Hand, the vicious gangsters who controlled New Orleans’ notorious Storyville district. Benton’s death has not satisfied them. And as the Mardi Gras festivities reach their fruition, a secret emerges that will cement the bond between Alice and Constance even as it threatens the lives they’re building . . . MY THOUGHTS: I was greatly disappointed with The Seamstress of New Orleans. There's not a great sense of place. I believe a lot more could have been made of the setting of this book. The storyline was very uninspiring and after about quarter of the way through the book, I found myself skimming large tracts until something caught my interest. The big secret that cements the bond between Alice and Constance is glaringly obvious very early on in the book, which only increased my disappointment. It was the chance to learn some of the history of the famous New Orleans Mardi Gras that first attracted me to this book, but again I was disappointed. Pickings in this area are very slim. The only character I really enjoyed was Dorothea. She is a woman who knows her own mind and has the strength of character to stand up for herself. She is also incredibly kind. I found Alice and particularly Constance to be quite wishy-washy characters. While I admired Constance's spunk in disguising herself and following her husband, her efforts to behave 'normally' afterwards were quite pathetic. I don't know if the author was trying to encompass too much with this book, building in a romance, a mystery, deception and the criminal underworld, but it didn't really work for me and I was seriously tempted to abandon this read more than once. I adore the cover. ⭐⭐.3 #TheSeamstressofNewOrleans #NetGalley I: @dianemcphail123 @kensingtonbooks T: @McPhailDiane @KensingtonBooks #domesticdrama #historicalfiction #mystery THE AUTHOR: Diane C. McPhail is an artist, writer, and minister. In addition to holding an M.F.A., an M.A., and D.Min., she has studied at the University of Iowa distance learning and the Yale Writers’ Workshop, among others. Diane is a member of North Carolina Writers' Network and the Historical Novel Society. She lives in Highlands, North Carolina, with her husband. DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Seamstress of New Orleans for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a Historical Fiction Mystery. I normally do not read historical fiction books that take place in the 1800's/early 1900's, so this book is not the normal historical fiction book that I go for. I put off reading this book for awhile because it scared me, but the storyline had me wanting to read it. I am so glad I picked this book up because I loved it so much. This book was so well written, and it took me on a great ride full of intrigue. I love the secrets that are slowly revealed through This is a Historical Fiction Mystery. I normally do not read historical fiction books that take place in the 1800's/early 1900's, so this book is not the normal historical fiction book that I go for. I put off reading this book for awhile because it scared me, but the storyline had me wanting to read it. I am so glad I picked this book up because I loved it so much. This book was so well written, and it took me on a great ride full of intrigue. I love the secrets that are slowly revealed throughout this book. I loved all the characters, and the two main characters are strong women that learn they really do not need a man. The cover of this book is so gorgeous and fits the storyline so well. I loved everything about this book. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Kensington Publishing Corp. A John Scognamiglio Book) or author (Diane C. McPhail) via NetGalley, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    In 1900, after Alice’s husband goes missing, she makes a decision to move to New Orleans, where she takes a position as a seamstress at an orphanage. She gets introduced to Constance who is in need of a ball gown for the upcoming Mardi Grass ball. She also just lost her husband. In her case, the question is was her husband murdered or committed a suicide as he was in debt because of his gambling. I was expecting this story to be alive not only with preparing gowns for Mardi Grass, but with all p In 1900, after Alice’s husband goes missing, she makes a decision to move to New Orleans, where she takes a position as a seamstress at an orphanage. She gets introduced to Constance who is in need of a ball gown for the upcoming Mardi Grass ball. She also just lost her husband. In her case, the question is was her husband murdered or committed a suicide as he was in debt because of his gambling. I was expecting this story to be alive not only with preparing gowns for Mardi Grass, but with all preparations leading to create such magnificent event. Instead, it is more focused on the mystery of disappearance of both men. The story gives us good backgrounds of both characters, but at the same time I did not feel a strong connection. What I loved about this story and wanted more of was the time period. It was interesting to learn about the leap year tradition of Mardi Grass becoming all-female krewe. In 1896, the women made history with that and four years later in 1900 they try to repeat the history. The story weaves other interesting facts pertaining to time and place. With time, when men were still considered supporters of women, thus when something happened to a man, it left them in very challenging position. With place of New Orleans, orphanages had a lot of half-orphaned children due to the yellow fever and cholera frequently leaving children with only one parent, who was often unable to care for them and also work. Despite the slow progression of the story, I believe that this is more for those who like plot-driven stories with some mystery. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    The cover and the promised mystery tipped the scales in tempting me to read this new title from Diane C. McPhail. There was the promise of elaborate dresses with intricate details; the opportunity to follow the clues and try to beat the author to the solution. How did this book measure up? The dresses end of the equation was delightful. Two widows create a sumptuous ball gown together by recycling dresses a high society friend donated to their project. Our two lead characters, Constance and Alic The cover and the promised mystery tipped the scales in tempting me to read this new title from Diane C. McPhail. There was the promise of elaborate dresses with intricate details; the opportunity to follow the clues and try to beat the author to the solution. How did this book measure up? The dresses end of the equation was delightful. Two widows create a sumptuous ball gown together by recycling dresses a high society friend donated to their project. Our two lead characters, Constance and Alice, also are dedicated to helping orphan girls learn the trade of sewing. Their vision was my favorite piece of the narrative. The mystery, not so much. McPhail did her homework and the book includes her notes, an interview, and some really great book group questions for discussion. Thank you to John Scognamiglio Books and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    I really wanted to love this one, as it has all the elements I adore in a historical fiction read - a great cover, a setting in one of my favorite places, and strong women protagonists - but unfortunately, it barely broke the "meh" barrier for me. Two women, Constance in New Orleans and Alice in Chicago, both suffer the mysterious loss of a spouse, and through several twists of fate, come together and help each other begin to heal. Each one though is harboring a secret that they can’t bear to sh I really wanted to love this one, as it has all the elements I adore in a historical fiction read - a great cover, a setting in one of my favorite places, and strong women protagonists - but unfortunately, it barely broke the "meh" barrier for me. Two women, Constance in New Orleans and Alice in Chicago, both suffer the mysterious loss of a spouse, and through several twists of fate, come together and help each other begin to heal. Each one though is harboring a secret that they can’t bear to share with the other and that is slowly tearing them apart inside. Despite the secrets, they feel an instant connection and soon form a little family of their own; but when their secrets come out, it shakes both of them to their core and threatens to crumble their fragile family foundation. While I loved the premise of the preparation of Mardis Gras, and women coming together to make their very own krewe known as "Les Mysterieuses," that was where my love of the book ended. The biggest issue that I had is that you know from the first few chapters exactly what is going on with each woman - the secrets aren't really secrets - absolutely nothing that was revealed shocked me in the least. The mystery aspect just fell flat. Not to mention, there is also a lot of repetition when it comes to the past of each woman. And while I liked both of the women and their stories kept me interested, I didn't connect with either of them the way I expected to. It may have been because it took soooo long for their "secrets" to come out - I kept thinking to myself, "just get to it already!" My final gripe was that I was anticipating it being more about Mardi Gras, the dresses and preparations, and the all-female krewe; but that ended up playing a pretty minor role in the overall plot, as the focus was mainly on the angst of the two women over their missing husbands. For a book that expounds the fight for women's rights and feminism, it leans way too heavily on the missing deadbeat men. You can tell that McPhail did her research, as the details are exquisite and thorough, and the theme of female friendship and empowerment is inspirational. I just wish it had checked a few more of my boxes. Overall it was a good, but not great, read for me. 3 stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    The beginning of new century is an exciting time, with the hope of social reform and women finally being treated as equals. But, for two women, Alice Butterworth and Constance Halstead they still mourn the loss of their babies, both have demanding husbands and will life change for them? Constance has two young daughters, she helps at the Poydras Asylum for orphan girls in New Orleans and this keeps her busy while her husband’s away for work. Benton Halstead dies in a tragic accident, he likes to The beginning of new century is an exciting time, with the hope of social reform and women finally being treated as equals. But, for two women, Alice Butterworth and Constance Halstead they still mourn the loss of their babies, both have demanding husbands and will life change for them? Constance has two young daughters, she helps at the Poydras Asylum for orphan girls in New Orleans and this keeps her busy while her husband’s away for work. Benton Halstead dies in a tragic accident, he likes to gamble and he owes money to the wrong people! Alice leaves Chicago, her husband Howard has disappeared and she believes he has work ties in the South? Alice is earning her keep by teaching sewing at the orphanage, here she meets Constance and she offers her a place to stay. Despite being in mourning, Constance’s friend Dorothea Richard’s wants her to be one of the attendants at the ball of Les Mysterious and the first ever all female krewe of the Mardi gras. Alice is very talented seamstress, she making Constance’s gown and she worries about her and her unborn baby’s future when the dress is finished? Constance is concerned about her family’s safety, Benton is in debt to the Black Hand a sinister gang linked to organized crime and a nasty man with a mustache has been loitering around the house. Both women have secrets, despite the friendship and bond growing between them and could this end if the truth is revealed? I received a copy of The Seamstress of New Orleans from Edelweiss and Kensington Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. It’s a story about a new century and inventions, women taking on leadership roles and using the skills they have to support themselves and help others. A cleverly crafted narrative by Diane C. McPhail, using national landmarks in the design of the gown Alice makes, it's a symbol of strength and unity between the two women and four and a half stars from me. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/ https://www.facebook.com/KarrenReadsH...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joan Happel

    In 1900 New Orleans, two women from very different backgrounds find common ground to rebuild the lives they both desperately want. Alice Butterworth finds herself stranded in Chicago after her husband Howard disappears while on a business trip. With no means of support, and finding herself pregnant, she sets out to search for him and finds herself alone in New Orleans. She discoveries a haven in one of New Orleans’ many orphanages providing sewing lesson in exchange for room and board. Constance In 1900 New Orleans, two women from very different backgrounds find common ground to rebuild the lives they both desperately want. Alice Butterworth finds herself stranded in Chicago after her husband Howard disappears while on a business trip. With no means of support, and finding herself pregnant, she sets out to search for him and finds herself alone in New Orleans. She discoveries a haven in one of New Orleans’ many orphanages providing sewing lesson in exchange for room and board. Constance Halstead’s husband Benton is also missing, but she at least knows what happened to him. Desperately trying to keep the secret of how her husband died, she is soon hounded by the Black Hand who are intent on collecting Benton’s substantial gambling debts. Constance’s charitable work at the orphanages throw these two women together with the goal of creating a costume for the upcoming Mardi Gras all-female krewe. They soon form a bond forged on their shared problems and tragedies. What the author gives us about turn-of-the-century New Orleans is intriguing, I wish that she had focused more on these details. I longed for more description of this 2nd leap-year Mardi Gras event. Prior to the first female krewe in 1896 women had participate, only allowed to work behind the scenes supporting the men. She also touches briefly on the orphanages in New Orleans, and the half-orphans that made up a great deal of their population. I can imagine a historical fiction novel focused entirely on either of these two subjects, as I am sure the subjects contain stories just waiting to be flushed out. The novel seems to rely heavily on the secrets that two women struggle with, and for many readers the plot surprises are probably apparent early on in the story. I did enjoy the portrayal of the strong female protagonists and the depiction of the struggles of women during the time period. The descriptions of some of the architecture of both Chicago and New Orleans was also appreciated. I still would recommend this book for those who enjoy books about female friendships and prefer a lighter approach to history. The author was able to paint a picture of the time period and place, allowing us to put a toe in the water and inspire some further reading. Thank you to William Morrow and NetGalley for the e-ARC

  8. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    THE SEAMSTRESS OF NEW ORLEANS by Diane C. McPhail Kensington Books Pub Date: May 31 In New Orleans in 1900, two women with tragic losses come together to support each other through a difficult time. Constance Halstead is a widow whose husband had tremendous gambling debts. She needs a new gown for the first all-woman Mardi Gras krewe but can't afford one. She volunteers at an orphanage, where she meets seamstress Alice Butterworth, whose husband abandoned her when she was pregnant. When Constance le THE SEAMSTRESS OF NEW ORLEANS by Diane C. McPhail Kensington Books Pub Date: May 31 In New Orleans in 1900, two women with tragic losses come together to support each other through a difficult time. Constance Halstead is a widow whose husband had tremendous gambling debts. She needs a new gown for the first all-woman Mardi Gras krewe but can't afford one. She volunteers at an orphanage, where she meets seamstress Alice Butterworth, whose husband abandoned her when she was pregnant. When Constance learns how talented Alice is, she offers her a place to live in exchange for sewing a gown. This fine historical novel boasts atmosphere galore, mysteries and secrets, growing feminism emerging from societal changes, threats from Black Hand gangsters, and one gorgeous gown that gives both women hope. Highly recommended! Thanks to the author, Kensington Books, and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine. #TheSeamstressOfNewOrleans #DianeCMcPhail #KensingtonBooks #NetGalley #1900NewOrleansfiction #femalefriendships #emergingfeminism #firstallfemalemardigraskrewe #historicalfiction #womensfiction #bookstagramcommunity

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    Frustrating, beautiful, repetitious -these are the thoughts that come to me when I try to think of how to describe this book. Ms. McPhail is a lovely wordsmith but lacks a little something in the 'knowing when enough is enough' department. Repetition, or 'the beating of a dead horse/horses,' becomes somewhat tedious after about the first third of the book. The authors' descriptions of the making of the gown are exquisite, but the mystery/s are quickly figured out in the first quarter of this book Frustrating, beautiful, repetitious -these are the thoughts that come to me when I try to think of how to describe this book. Ms. McPhail is a lovely wordsmith but lacks a little something in the 'knowing when enough is enough' department. Repetition, or 'the beating of a dead horse/horses,' becomes somewhat tedious after about the first third of the book. The authors' descriptions of the making of the gown are exquisite, but the mystery/s are quickly figured out in the first quarter of this book. I kept reading, though, at times, I wanted to DNF. I needed to see how everything was resolved, which says something about this novel. I was a little disappointed with the ending; there was one huge secret that never came out. I would have loved to see how this secret could have come to light and what changes it might have on everyone's relationships. For me, this was a good read that had me doing a lot of skimming---but I think most people will love this book for many different reasons. I learned a lot about the era and what women were doing to change them. Of course, these were wealthy women, and the ways they tried to change things seemed a bit frivolous to me. A Mardi Gras Ball? However, what the women were doing for the orphans and half orphaned girls was an exceptional storyline. *ARC supplied by the publisher #Kensington Publishing Corp, the author. and #NetGalley.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Huether

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In the early 1900's two Widows are drawn together in New Orleans for the sake of a ballgown for Constance Halstead's first female Mardi Gras Krewe. Alice Butterworth recently arrived from Chicago to seek work as a seamstress in a warmer climate. Alice was pregnant at the time. As work on the ballgown progressed Constance and Alice forged a real friendship. Some secrets were revealed, others not. Alice is like an Aunt to Constance's' two daughters. When Alice's Baby Boy (Samuel) is born there is a In the early 1900's two Widows are drawn together in New Orleans for the sake of a ballgown for Constance Halstead's first female Mardi Gras Krewe. Alice Butterworth recently arrived from Chicago to seek work as a seamstress in a warmer climate. Alice was pregnant at the time. As work on the ballgown progressed Constance and Alice forged a real friendship. Some secrets were revealed, others not. Alice is like an Aunt to Constance's' two daughters. When Alice's Baby Boy (Samuel) is born there is a resemblance to Constance's daughters. Excellent read as I was drawn into Alice's and Constance's lives. I want to thank Kensington Books for sending me the ARC of this book. .

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jonann loves book talk❤♥️❤

    Diane C. McPhail's historical fiction The Seamstress of New Orleans occurs in New Orleans in 1900 during the "first all-female Mardi Gras krewe." McPhail captures the essence and symbolism of this momentous occasion in the emergence of women's rights in her robust characterization of this critical period. Synopsis: After her husband's abrupt disappearance, Alice Butterworth is desperate to provide for herself and her unborn child. As Alice searches for her missing spouse, she ends up in New Orlean Diane C. McPhail's historical fiction The Seamstress of New Orleans occurs in New Orleans in 1900 during the "first all-female Mardi Gras krewe." McPhail captures the essence and symbolism of this momentous occasion in the emergence of women's rights in her robust characterization of this critical period. Synopsis: After her husband's abrupt disappearance, Alice Butterworth is desperate to provide for herself and her unborn child. As Alice searches for her missing spouse, she ends up in New Orleans, where she meets Constance Halstead, also recently widowed. As a result of Constance's admiration of Alice's sewing skills, Constance offers Alice a place to live in exchange for creating a dress for the leap year celebration, Les Mysterieuses Ball. As Alice and Constance become allies, they discover a secret that will forever bond their friendship. Readers receive a fascinating look at the history of New Orleans and delightful characters that they wish they could meet in The Seamstress of New Orleans. Throughout her descriptive writing, Diane C. McPhail effectively ferries readers into the setting. I recommend this outstanding book to those interested in historical fiction. It is available on May 31st. (4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐) Thank you, NetGalley and Kensington Books, A John Scogmaniglio Book, for allowing me to review this novel. Your kindness is appreciated.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tahera

    I liked listening to the audiobook. As a narrator, I thought Jessica Marchbank's voice was clear and soothing but there was not much voice variation in terms of portraying the different characters. I liked both the female protagonists Alice Butterworth and Constance Halstead whose paths are brought together at the turn of the new century, in 1900, when both become involved in the orphanage in New Orleans and Alice is asked to create a gown for Constance for the Leap Year Ball of Les Mysterieuses I liked listening to the audiobook. As a narrator, I thought Jessica Marchbank's voice was clear and soothing but there was not much voice variation in terms of portraying the different characters. I liked both the female protagonists Alice Butterworth and Constance Halstead whose paths are brought together at the turn of the new century, in 1900, when both become involved in the orphanage in New Orleans and Alice is asked to create a gown for Constance for the Leap Year Ball of Les Mysterieuses, the all female krewe of Mardi Gras. Constance is newly widowed and busies herself in the orphanage work while Alice travels to New Orleans from Chicago after being abandoned by her husband. Although, belonging to different social and economic class of society both Constance and Alice seem to have endured similar experiences while growing up in typical patriarchal households. The mystery of Constance's dead husband and Alice's missing one makes up most of the plot but anyone paying attention will probably figure it out way earlier in the book. My thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Highbridge Audio and the author Diane C. McPhail for the audio Arc of the book. Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨💫

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diana N.

    Bonding over sewing with some serious hidden secrets! I really liked the bond that developed between Alice and Constance. Both recently widowed and had gone through similar tragic circumstances. The designing and sewing a ball gown together added some lightness to all of the darker elements. What I didn't like was the fact that I had figured out the big secret early on and it seemed like it took forever for the characters to get there too. The eerieness of the Black Hand added some suspense, but n Bonding over sewing with some serious hidden secrets! I really liked the bond that developed between Alice and Constance. Both recently widowed and had gone through similar tragic circumstances. The designing and sewing a ball gown together added some lightness to all of the darker elements. What I didn't like was the fact that I had figured out the big secret early on and it seemed like it took forever for the characters to get there too. The eerieness of the Black Hand added some suspense, but not enough to keep anyone from figuring out the secrets. As a mystery, this book didn't have enough suspense, but as Historical fiction, it was definitely enjoyable. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a copy of this ARC for my honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    chantalsbookstuff

    Historical fiction brings you The Seamstress of New Orleans played off in the 1900. Constance is having trouble with gang members for gambling debt her late husband had accumulated. This story follows her trying to put her life back toghter and creating a safe environment for her children. I have a fondness for historical fiction and went in with high hopes. This book did not give me the satisfaction I would normally get from this genre. The storyline was a bit flat with no remarkable drama. I di Historical fiction brings you The Seamstress of New Orleans played off in the 1900. Constance is having trouble with gang members for gambling debt her late husband had accumulated. This story follows her trying to put her life back toghter and creating a safe environment for her children. I have a fondness for historical fiction and went in with high hopes. This book did not give me the satisfaction I would normally get from this genre. The storyline was a bit flat with no remarkable drama. I did like the characters and the dressmaking bits. I felt that this could have had a stronger storyline. The narration was steady and good. Thank you Netgalley and RB Media for this ARC.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    Two young widows, terribly wronged by their deceitful husbands are serendipitously brought together in their time of need. Constance’s husband has met with an ‘accident’ while Alice’s husband has left for his travelling job never to be seen or heard from again. There are some very interesting historical facts to do with a leap year tradition of New Orleans Mardi Gras when women decided to put on an all-female krewe. If I had stopped reading before the middle of the book I would have given 3 or 4 s Two young widows, terribly wronged by their deceitful husbands are serendipitously brought together in their time of need. Constance’s husband has met with an ‘accident’ while Alice’s husband has left for his travelling job never to be seen or heard from again. There are some very interesting historical facts to do with a leap year tradition of New Orleans Mardi Gras when women decided to put on an all-female krewe. If I had stopped reading before the middle of the book I would have given 3 or 4 stars but the book got bogged down from the middle on with what I would consider ‘filler’ not germane to the story and I got bored. The reveal at the end was sudden and not at all unexpected since I had suspected it from very early on. So much more could have been made of this which would have made the plot more interesting.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pancha Mantilla

    Thanks again NetGalle for letting me read an ARC of this book. This book follows two women. One, Constance, a mother of two little girls part of the New Orleans society. And the other, Alice a seamstress who lives in Chicago. The story begins with Constance following his husband in disguise into a train, where a series of events ends up with him falling from a moving car. Which makes her an anxious widow hopping for the police to find out a truth that will not involve her. Meanwhile Alice, whose Thanks again NetGalle for letting me read an ARC of this book. This book follows two women. One, Constance, a mother of two little girls part of the New Orleans society. And the other, Alice a seamstress who lives in Chicago. The story begins with Constance following his husband in disguise into a train, where a series of events ends up with him falling from a moving car. Which makes her an anxious widow hopping for the police to find out a truth that will not involve her. Meanwhile Alice, whose husband seem to have disappeared decides to move from Chicago to New Orleans while she hopes to find a way to survive on her own. An orphanage and good friend makes this two woman find each other and come into a mutual agreement that end up in a unique friendship. The characterization present is incredible and makes you instantly fall for both main characters and their stories. The plot moves along the charters whose lives are now upside down and in need of putting together. A book where defiantly the real protagonist is the sorority and companionship of two women in desperate need for a true trustworthy friend. The historical setting is also something to highlight, the carefulness in which is written makes it clear that the author followed a careful investigation beforehand. A book I could easily recommend to anyone who likes an historical novel with strong female leads.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Seamstress of New Orleans by Diane C. McPhail is a great historical fiction novel set at the turn of the 20th century and takes us into the heart and culture of New Orleans. I really enjoyed this book. It is so unique in that not only did the author focus on the rich, beautiful, and intricate culture and heritage of New Orleans, but she also included Mardi Gras. This is a time, place, and history that, I feel, is beyond fabulous and completely under appreciated and discussed. The extensive r The Seamstress of New Orleans by Diane C. McPhail is a great historical fiction novel set at the turn of the 20th century and takes us into the heart and culture of New Orleans. I really enjoyed this book. It is so unique in that not only did the author focus on the rich, beautiful, and intricate culture and heritage of New Orleans, but she also included Mardi Gras. This is a time, place, and history that, I feel, is beyond fabulous and completely under appreciated and discussed. The extensive research into all aspects of this novel is evident, as is the author’s passion. It radiates luminosity from each page. What makes this book even better is the additional aspects of women’s rights, women’s positions and limitations that were established and also being created at the turn of the 20th century in the southern US, but also the relationships present between women themselves. How women were treated not only by society, but by men and fellow women were also fundamental and explored. Family, friendships, heartache, deception, love, loss, hopes, fears…all are present here. This was not an easy time for a lot of women, especially women who have experienced such hardships and obstacles such as our main characters: Alice and Constance. Despite their differences in how they ended up in this place and time, finding strength within themselves and one another, they are able to overcome so much. I also enjoyed the entire cast of characters created. I liked Dorothea and Martin as well. Mystery, suspense, and a wonderful narrative pull all of this together as well. Learning more about the creation of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe was fascinating. I knew nothing about this subject at all and I am researching more about this rich history as we speak. The author’s note adds a bit of historical context to the novel. I really liked this book, the extra history that I learned in the process, and I definitely recommend this novel. 4/5 stars Thank you NG and Kensington for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 5/31/22.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shirley McAllister

    The Missing Husband A story of two women surviving in 1900 by sewing gowns and teaching orphans to sew. Both women have missing husbands. Constance knows her husband is dead. Alice is searching for hers. They are alone with children and must survive. It is not easy in the year 1900 for women to start a business, but the need for Mardi Gras Gowns in New Orleans helps them in their endeavor. Constance is constantly frightened of the Black Hand to whom her deceased husband owed debts. This gangster c The Missing Husband A story of two women surviving in 1900 by sewing gowns and teaching orphans to sew. Both women have missing husbands. Constance knows her husband is dead. Alice is searching for hers. They are alone with children and must survive. It is not easy in the year 1900 for women to start a business, but the need for Mardi Gras Gowns in New Orleans helps them in their endeavor. Constance is constantly frightened of the Black Hand to whom her deceased husband owed debts. This gangster comes after Constance for payment . Together the two women and their friend a lady with contacts and one concerned police officer stop the Black Hand from frightening Constance and her children. When the mystery of Constance's husband's death is finally solved another mystery comes to light which could damage their happy relationship. It is a good story of strong women fighting for independence in a society that thinks women should be home cooking, cleaning and caring for the children. I enjoyed this story of these two independent women and I know you will too. I listened to the audio book and I loved the narrator such a pleasant voice to listen to . I would recommend this book. Thanks to Diane C. McPhail for writing a great story, to Jessica Marchbank for the excellent narration, to HighBridge Audio for publishing it and to NetGalley for allowing me to listen to the audio book and review it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sharyn

    I received an advance copy for review from between the chapters for an honest review. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre and 1900 New Orleans is such an interesting place and time. The story of 2 women of differing classes, both of whom have lost babies and husband's and the friendship that ensues enhances the plot. Secrets abound and as we wade through them, life during Mardi Gras is brought to life. Constance, who watches her husband possibly fall to his death while still mourning her baby I received an advance copy for review from between the chapters for an honest review. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre and 1900 New Orleans is such an interesting place and time. The story of 2 women of differing classes, both of whom have lost babies and husband's and the friendship that ensues enhances the plot. Secrets abound and as we wade through them, life during Mardi Gras is brought to life. Constance, who watches her husband possibly fall to his death while still mourning her baby must learn to live with her grief. Alice, who has also watched her baby die, comes looking for her husband who has disappeared. A socialite in charge of the first women's Krewe, brings them together as Alice, the titular seamstress, sews a dress for Constance to wear for a float. There is much history to learn, woman's suffrage, typhoid, yellow fever and the many orphanages in New Orleans and the women who helped educate these children to prepare them for life. The most interesting facts for me was that the first women's Krewe was in 1896, a leap year. 4 years later, 1900, the Krew participated again even though it wasn't a leap year, as only years that can be divided by 400 can be a leap year. If you like historical fiction you will enjoy this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    This book is set in 1900 New Orleans and focuses on two women. Constance a lady with a trust her husband can’t touch and seems desperate to and Alice a woman whose husband disappears on her. Constance is determined to find out what her husband is up to and finds out more than she bargained for. Alice is desperate to figure out how to provide for herself and her unborn child. They find each other and develop quite a friendship. I really liked this story, I thought it took a little bit to get into This book is set in 1900 New Orleans and focuses on two women. Constance a lady with a trust her husband can’t touch and seems desperate to and Alice a woman whose husband disappears on her. Constance is determined to find out what her husband is up to and finds out more than she bargained for. Alice is desperate to figure out how to provide for herself and her unborn child. They find each other and develop quite a friendship. I really liked this story, I thought it took a little bit to get into which was surprising because the beginning was full of lots of action. Once the characters started to develop the story became difficult to put down.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Megan Leathers

    Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review! I sincerely loved the main plot and characters of this novel but not the way they were executed. At any given point in the story there were multiple events coinciding and thus it made each one feel less significant. Additionally there was added conflict where none was needed, and far too much re-hashing of past events. The plot twist at the end was unfortunately given away in the first chapter and a secret dis Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review! I sincerely loved the main plot and characters of this novel but not the way they were executed. At any given point in the story there were multiple events coinciding and thus it made each one feel less significant. Additionally there was added conflict where none was needed, and far too much re-hashing of past events. The plot twist at the end was unfortunately given away in the first chapter and a secret discovered by one character should not have been reasoned out so easily. I loved the setting and truly felt that this book could have been more of a success with a focus on the two lead characters and their growth together instead of having them constantly putting out multiple "fires" as it were (and almost always on edge of fainting).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tonya Mathis

    I'm actually reading the paperback version, an ARC copy that I won. Thank you, Kensington Books, for the giveaway and the author for an Awesome read. You can read the blurb to see what it's about, I rarely retype that in a review. Two female lead characters, but there are three strong females that make this a story to read with a little bit of New Orleans flair and history. I'm actually reading the paperback version, an ARC copy that I won. Thank you, Kensington Books, for the giveaway and the author for an Awesome read. You can read the blurb to see what it's about, I rarely retype that in a review. Two female lead characters, but there are three strong females that make this a story to read with a little bit of New Orleans flair and history.

  23. 4 out of 5

    KarenK2

    I received this from Netgalley.com. Set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century, Constance and Alice become friends amid life changing experiences and happenstance. An okay read. For as much as the blurb touts the Mardi Gras aspect, it played a very small part of the story, which was disappointing. I've never read a story based on that topic. I liked that these woman worked through all of the troubling things that happened to them, but it was wear I received this from Netgalley.com. Set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century, Constance and Alice become friends amid life changing experiences and happenstance. An okay read. For as much as the blurb touts the Mardi Gras aspect, it played a very small part of the story, which was disappointing. I've never read a story based on that topic. I liked that these woman worked through all of the troubling things that happened to them, but it was wearisome how insecure they were while trying to make decisions. 2.75☆

  24. 5 out of 5

    JANELLE

    Not exactly the story I was expecting when I picked this one to read. I thought it'd be more involved with the Mardi Gras and the fantastic dresses. There is a bit about the ball and making a costume for it, but the main focus of the story is on a dead husband. Constance's husband is involved in gambling and all sorts of nefarious deeds in the seedy part of town. He's keeping secrets, so she hops a train and follows him (dressed as a boy). Alice's husband also keeps secrets...like who he really is Not exactly the story I was expecting when I picked this one to read. I thought it'd be more involved with the Mardi Gras and the fantastic dresses. There is a bit about the ball and making a costume for it, but the main focus of the story is on a dead husband. Constance's husband is involved in gambling and all sorts of nefarious deeds in the seedy part of town. He's keeping secrets, so she hops a train and follows him (dressed as a boy). Alice's husband also keeps secrets...like who he really is. After he goes missing, she finds out that he isn't who he claimed to be. She hops a train to find his mother in Memphis, only to find the address he gave her was for gambling halls. She she hops back on the train and ends up in New Orleans. A strange story, but a couple of strong women characters. Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a temporary, digital ARC in return for my review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    LittleRead

    This book was really touching. Two women suffer the loss of a spouse, and manage to come together to help each other move on with their lives. The obstacles each woman has to overcome are burdens that they can’t quite fully share with each other, but they are kindred spirits and soon form a little family of their own as time goes on. What really shines through are the early signs of the feminist movement as women fight for the vote, take more of life for themselves vs letting the men run everyth This book was really touching. Two women suffer the loss of a spouse, and manage to come together to help each other move on with their lives. The obstacles each woman has to overcome are burdens that they can’t quite fully share with each other, but they are kindred spirits and soon form a little family of their own as time goes on. What really shines through are the early signs of the feminist movement as women fight for the vote, take more of life for themselves vs letting the men run everything…and in the only state where women are allowed to have property and money that cannot be touched by their husbands. This story brings so much to the story, beyond they lives of the women alone. It’ is a great read and will make you proud to remember the women who came before us and made changes that we have thanks to them.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    What could be more entrancing than New Orleans and the brilliant costumery of the Mardi Gras Balls? This rather long story studies the interaction/friendship between two women of strength and determination who are living with fearsome secrets. A bond is formed between them and with other independent minded women of the Krewe who will form the basics of a more independent feminism fostered by the city itself. The publisher's blurb is a very good hook, and I will not repeat it nor give in to the t What could be more entrancing than New Orleans and the brilliant costumery of the Mardi Gras Balls? This rather long story studies the interaction/friendship between two women of strength and determination who are living with fearsome secrets. A bond is formed between them and with other independent minded women of the Krewe who will form the basics of a more independent feminism fostered by the city itself. The publisher's blurb is a very good hook, and I will not repeat it nor give in to the temptation of spoilers. I really liked it. I requested and received a free e-book copy from Kensington Books, A John Scognamiglio Book via NetGalley. Thank you!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ann Dudzinski

    In the year 1900, two women find themselves in a crisis. Alice Butterworth lives in Chicago, expecting her husband Howard to return from a business trip. But he never comes home. After weeks of waiting, with her money running out and a child on the way, she sets off for Memphis to look for him. When she arrives there to search for his mother, she realizes that he lied about her. The woman is as much of a ghost as he is. On a whim, and with nowhere else to go, Alice reboards the train for New Orl In the year 1900, two women find themselves in a crisis. Alice Butterworth lives in Chicago, expecting her husband Howard to return from a business trip. But he never comes home. After weeks of waiting, with her money running out and a child on the way, she sets off for Memphis to look for him. When she arrives there to search for his mother, she realizes that he lied about her. The woman is as much of a ghost as he is. On a whim, and with nowhere else to go, Alice reboards the train for New Orleans. Constance Halstead has also lost her husband but in her case, she knows he is dead. Even if Benton is gone, threats stemming from his misdeeds remain and Constance lacks the fortitude to protect her daughters on her own. The women meet through a mutual acquaintance, and Alice agrees to sew a gown for Constance to wear to a Mardi Gras ball run by an all-woman krewe, an event unheard of for the time period. As they plan and create the gown, Constance and Alice grow closer, buoyed by each other’s strength. Set against a backdrop of women’s suffrage and societal restrictions, the women form a bond in which their independence of spirit is allowed to bloom. I will say that my disappointment was based mostly on my expectations going into the book. I expected more without being able to put my finger on exactly what else I wanted from it, only that I finished wishing it had been more fulfilling. The characters had depth and I loved the relationship that grew between Alice and Constance. It was moving to see how they forged a new life independently of a husband, even though there was a hint that Constance might not remain single for long. These women were ahead of their times and in that, they were inspirational. But in some ways, the book fell flat for me. The mystery of Alice’s husband and her connection with Constance was fairly obvious from the first few chapters, although the author teased me with whether the two women would ever find out throughout the book. (In the end, this one huge secret was never revealed to Constance and I felt fairly let down by that. I mean, why start out a new life holding on to that big of a revelation. It won’t go well for Alice if the truth comes out later.) I also didn’t understand why the drawn-out illness for Constance played such a large role in the book. If it was to bring the doctor into their familial circle, they’d been childhood friends. Honestly, I thought there could have been another, more logical way to bring him into the picture. Lastly, the build up to the Mardis Gras ball encompassed so much real estate, that the actual ball was a bit of a let down. Oh, and there was fainting. Lots of fainting. I will say that most likely what I found disappointing was based mostly on my expectations going into the book. I’d expected more without being able to put my finger on exactly what else I wanted from it, only that I finished wishing it had been more fulfilling. All that aside, it wasn’t a bad book and I think it’s worth the read if you like historical fiction. I did see one reviewer comment that this novel perfectly captures New Orleans so, there’s that. And if you like a quiet read, this is probably right up your alley. This book rates higher than 3 stars, but not so high as to round up to 4 stars, so I’m going to hit a happy medium and rate it at 3.25 stars. ⭐⭐⭐+ I’d like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing the ARC copy of this novel. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Constance and Alice are two women in 1900 who are drawn together after the death of their husbands. Constance is a socialite who lives in New Orleans and her husband is up to his ears in gambling debt to the Black Hand when he is killed. Alice lives in Chicago and is forced to find a new start when her husband disappears while on a business trip. She arrives in New Orleans finding a place teaching sewing at an orphanage. She and Constance cross paths as the women of New Orleans begin to plan a M Constance and Alice are two women in 1900 who are drawn together after the death of their husbands. Constance is a socialite who lives in New Orleans and her husband is up to his ears in gambling debt to the Black Hand when he is killed. Alice lives in Chicago and is forced to find a new start when her husband disappears while on a business trip. She arrives in New Orleans finding a place teaching sewing at an orphanage. She and Constance cross paths as the women of New Orleans begin to plan a Mardi Gras celebration. They bond as they design an epic dress for the event. This story has a mystery at its center, but the reader knows where it is going the whole time. We simply get to watch as Constance and Alice come to grips with their realities. The bond that forms between the two is lovely and refreshing to see two women who are not rivals but supporters of one another in their hardest times. My favorite aspects were, of course, the historical ones - pre-voting era women pressing for control of their lives, New Orleans at its height, the glamour of Mardi Gras, the reality of survival in a harsh world. But the designing of the dress was also a lovely highlight, I loved the mythology and history these women brought to the design. This is a perfect historical fiction novel to pick up if you want something a little different for a summer read. Thanks to Netgalley for advanced access to this novel. All opinions above are my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    This beautifully written book took me back in time to New Orleans in 1900. I could visualize the merriment of Mardi Gras and hear the hustle and bustle of activity at the wharves. This Mardi Gras is not your typical one. For only the second time in New Orleans’ history, there is an all-female Mardi Gras krewe. Constance and Alice, both with mysteriously missing husbands and both having lost an infant son, are thrown together in this tale of sisterhood. They draw on each other’s talents to create This beautifully written book took me back in time to New Orleans in 1900. I could visualize the merriment of Mardi Gras and hear the hustle and bustle of activity at the wharves. This Mardi Gras is not your typical one. For only the second time in New Orleans’ history, there is an all-female Mardi Gras krewe. Constance and Alice, both with mysteriously missing husbands and both having lost an infant son, are thrown together in this tale of sisterhood. They draw on each other’s talents to create a magnificent ball gown for the Mardi Gras Ball. As each woman closely guards her own secret, they find strength and independence in each other. McPhail brought the characters to life for me. Afraid their secrets would come out, I could feel the fear and shame each woman experienced. I smiled at the antics of Constance’s young daughters. The supporting characters were just as interesting as were the main characters: the strength of Analee, the compassion of Dr. Birdsong, the dignified Dorothea Richard. Filled with intrigue, the book was hard to put down. I loved the unexpected twist at the end. Perfect for the story. Why must daily life get in the way of being lost in such an enjoyable book! I received an advance copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving an unbiased review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    Can we take a look at this gorgeous cover? Stunning! It’s 1900 and a new century has dawned and women are making some noise. Fighting for equality in a man’s world. Alice Butterworth knows all of those rules. She also knows she needs to find a job as it looks like her husband is not going to be returning from his business trip. Desperate and broke, she overhears women talking about Mardi Gras in New Orleans. How a seamstress can flourish there. And Alice is a good seamstress. So to New Orleans, sh Can we take a look at this gorgeous cover? Stunning! It’s 1900 and a new century has dawned and women are making some noise. Fighting for equality in a man’s world. Alice Butterworth knows all of those rules. She also knows she needs to find a job as it looks like her husband is not going to be returning from his business trip. Desperate and broke, she overhears women talking about Mardi Gras in New Orleans. How a seamstress can flourish there. And Alice is a good seamstress. So to New Orleans, she goes. Carrying a parting gift from the no-good husband. A baby. She finally arrives at an orphanage where she can stay and teach sewing to the older girls. Constance is a young mother and wife. Her husband is shady at best. He isn’t coming home either. She knows this for certain. She works very closely with the orphanage and meeting Alice she offers her lodging with her little family while she helps her create a gown for the Leap Year Ball for Mardi Gras. It’s an all-women Krewe which at that time was forward. But she needs something to take her mind off of the fear she feels. Who is the mysterious man following her? And why? This is a story of women helping women. Of being brave and standing together. While there was quite a bit of Mardi Gras trivia, this was ultimately about empowering women. NetGalley/May 31st, 2022 by Kensington Publishing Corp. A John Scognamiglio Book

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