The Seamstress of New Orleans is set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century. For those who don’t know what a krewe is (I had no clue), it is a private organization that stages events during Mardi Gras. Here, the event is the leap year ball of Les Mysterieuses, during which women could make advances toward men that would be taboo at other times.
The novel brings together two women from unique backgrounds. Upon the sudden disappearance of her husband, pregnant Alice Butterworth leaves Chicago for the more hospitable climes of Louisiana to make a living by providing sewing lessons at an orphanage. At the other end of the economic scale is Constance Halstead, a young widow who carries a heavy burden. Her husband, Benton, whose death remains a mystery, was deep in debt to the Black Hand, the vicious gangsters who controlled New Orleans’ notorious Storyville district.
The two become acquainted at the orphanage where Constance does charity work. In exchange for room and board, Alice sews Constance a gown for the ball. As a friendship blossoms between the women, a secret emerges that will upend their lives.
While some of the history was interesting, I didn’t care for the book at all. I’m tiring of books about deep dark family secrets; it is so overdone. The Seamstress of New Orleans had an amazing twist at the end, but overall the book wasn’t my thing. A word to audiobook lovers. The audiobook’s narrator was abysmal, so stick with the book. 3 stars.
** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book. The opinions are my own.