Florence is bereft, her grandmother who effectively brought her up has died and her marriage is falling apart.
As she comes to terms with everything Florence discovers a box full of dress patterns from the 1960s.
In the first is a photograph of her grandmother with friends she knows and one she doesn’t, named Nancy Moon. Who is Nancy? Why did her grandmother keep all these patterns? And what story is it telling?
Florence, still grieving, uses the patterns to go on a discovery of Nancy Moon as well as discover who she really is. Are there connections between Florence and Nancy?
As Florence discovers so do we as the book using the dual time narrative, a plot device that has worked successfully here, to go back to Nancy Moon.
Nancy wants something better with her life, her skills as a seamstress are exemplary and given the opportunity she makes it to a fashion house and starts living a very different life. Until one life changing moment which is going to haunt her for the rest of her days.
When she finds herself at crossroads in life she embarks on a different path and becomes a companion to Pamela, young daughter to Peter and Caro. This takes her all over Europe and as she goes, she makes different outfits from patterns, keeps swatches of material and has a photo of memorable moments along the way.
Nancy is running away from something as much as Florence seems to be running towards something and as the pieces of this magical pattern are put together, we suddenly see the finished article. Only Florence and Nancy though will know the work that has gone into it.
This is a delightful debut novel from Sarah Steele who clearly has a flair for dressmaking, the details that have gone into using this as a means to tell a story is insightful and thoughtful. It really added to the depth of the story for me as these stories ran concurrently and then were all swept and stitched together.
I wish I had read it sooner in 2020 as I feel I was late to the party with this one and it was such a joyous read and reminds me of why I love reading great historical fiction. It also made me slightly put out that I am not overtly proficient with a sewing machine!
Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon is out now.