The Hatmaker’s Heart: A Novel (click on book or see below for description)
By Carla Stewart
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Finish Time: 4 nights. Another trip back to the 1920’s, my favorite decade, at least to visit literally. And I’ll admit this book sounded good, that is why I requested it, I still had put it off longer than I should have. Which now I can admit was a mistake, well the mistake would have been not reading it at all. A surprisingly enjoyable read about a hatmaker/milliner of all professions!
I loved the imagery I had in my head while reading this book. I’ll add a few pictures of 1920’s hats in this post so you can enjoy it too. I would love for hats to come back in fashion! Maybe my wallet wouldn’t, but it’s such a fun accessory that now-a-days seems to be saved for horse racing, most popular being the Kentucky Derby. But that actually ties into the book, as Prunella Marchwold aka Nell aka Nellie March, hails from – wait for it – Kentucky! She was discovered there as an amateur hatmaker by Oscar Fields who owned a millinery (hat shop) in New York City. She follows him there and begins her career under his direction.
Nell begins the book very sheepish, she clearly has talent in pleasing people and making them look great with her hats, but she is very shy about it and doubts herself often. All of this is evidenced by a stammer that has been present most of her life. As with a lot of main characters, throughout the book, she comes into her own, and becomes so much more confident in her abilities and herself (and her speech). Her boss, Oscar, is the source of much of her personal doubt throughout the book. A common bully boss, not wanting anyone to upstage him and constantly reminding people of what he did for them and how they wouldn’t be where they were without him, is a source of frustration for Nell (and the reader!)
So many characters were introduced in this novel as I’m thinking back on it now, but each and every one had their place and I could picture them in my head. To customers who Nell interacted with through designing the perfect hat for them, to her co-workers, to her roommates, family near and far, and even a past love, the characters keep this book flowing and filled with lots of action. Nell begins to get noticed and her struggle to remain loyal to who discovered her (although may not fully appreciate her) and go out on her own is one she battles with throughout the book. The side story, which I almost forgot to include, is finding the source of her stammer, which is a bit of mystery as she works with a speech therapist/psychiatrist to explore her past.
As I mentioned before – Nell grows as a designer and as a person, and the build up is amazing as you near a great ending of this book. I’m so glad I read it. It only came out on June 3rd – so a little late for release day, but I hope it’s going strong, check it out!
Description from Amazon:For Nell Marchwold, bliss is seeing the transformation when someone gets a glimpse in the mirror while wearing one of her creations and feels beautiful. Nell has always strived to create hats that bring out a woman’s best qualities. She knows she’s fortunate to have landed a job as an apprentice designer at the prominent Oscar Fields Millinery in New York City. Yet when Nell’s fresh designs begin to catch on, her boss holds her back from the limelight, claiming the stutter she’s had since childhood reflects poorly on her and his salon.But it seems Nell’s gift won’t be hidden by Oscar’s efforts. Soon an up-and-coming fashion designer is seeking her out as a partner of his 1922 collection. The publicity leads to an opportunity for Nell to make hats in London for a royal wedding. There, she sees her childhood friend, Quentin, and an unexpected spark kindles between them. But thanks to her success, Oscar is determined to keep her. As her heart tugs in two directions, Nell must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for her dream, and what her dream truly is.