Trois jours seulement après sa première soumission, THE DRESSMAKER OF DACHAU de Mary Chamberlain fait déjà l’objet d’enchères en Italie, aux Pays Bas et en Angleterre. Et aux Etats-Unis, quatre éditeurs de premier plan sont entrés dans la course !
THE DRESSMAKER OF DACHAU
by Mary Chamberlain
THE DRESSMAKER OF DACHAU is a literary historical fiction spanning 1939 to 1948 and following a young London seamstress who is hanged for murder in 1948. It’s beautifully evocative, intensely clever novel, which draws the reader in before pulling the rug from beneath their feet:
They had already weighed Ada and measured her. She was eight stone three pounds, and five feet six in stockinged feet.
She still had the slender figure of a mannequin.
She put on the thick, calico knickers with drawstrings, pulled them tight round her thighs and waist so nothing would leak. She knew that when they came off, there would be marks on her skin.
‘There’s a notebook,’ she said. ‘I kept a notebook. Everything’s in it.’
‘Are you ready?’
‘No,’ she said. ‘No.’
Ada Vaughan is hanged in Holloway Prison in 1948, a prostitute and murderess, pilloried in the press as the ‘Dressmaker of Dachau’. But who was the woman behind the epithet? And what led her to her fate? Spanning 1939 to 1948 and taking us from the glamour of the Savoy to the desperation of Dachau, we watch a woman betrayed and abandoned, forced to survive on her wits alone, and in every way underserving of her punishment. Or was she?
In 1939 Ada is nothing more than an average young seamstress, from a normal home in London. But her life changes when she is swept off her feet by Stanislaus, an Austrian-Hungarian aristocrat. She elopes with him to France but when she falls pregnant he abandons her, leaving her to her fate as WWII breaks out. Forced to give up her child she is sent as a POW to Dachau where she begins to make clothes for the commandant’s wife, forever haunted by the fate of her son. On her return to London after the war she falls on desperate times and becomes a prostitute, where a chance meeting with a man she recognises from her past leads her on the steps towards the gallows.
Ada is an intensely compelling character. Is she an innocent young woman driven to a terrible crime? Or is she a liar and a fantasist, cold-blooded and calculating?
Mary Chamberlain is the author of popular and academic histories, and is Emeritus Professor of Caribbean History at Oxford Brookes University.