The Dressmaker

A Novel

Elizabeth Oberbeck

Henry Holt and Co.

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In this romantic debut novel, a reserved provincial French tailor falls head over heels in love with a woman who’s hired him to create her wedding dress

Claude Reynaud is a bit of a throwback, an old-fashioned dressmaker working in a cluttered studio outside modern-day Paris, quietly designing his famous gowns by hand. Every spring he ushers pretty young society brides into his studio, measures them, and designs their dresses without ever contemplating for himself the sort of romance that will lead these ladies and their grooms to the altar.

But one afternoon a woman arrives who shatters his composure: Valentine de Verlay is charming, beautiful, a lady of society, and, of course, engaged. She comes with no instructions for her wedding dress, just a beautiful figure, a long graceful neck, and total faith in her dressmaker. Claude, forty-six years old, devoted to his work, and long since deserted by his wife, finds himself smitten.

As Valentine’s wedding approaches, his commitment to her dress makes it impossible for Claude to keep a safe distance, and everything he’s come to rely on in his small, focused life looks ready to collapse. Worse still, as he is welcomed into her circle of friends and family, it appears that the betrothed Valentine may share his feelings.

The Dressmaker is a perfect gem of a novel, an enchanting portrait of another world, and, above all, a sly and irresistible love story.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter One
Blossoms fluttered everywhere that morning outside the dressmaker’s studio. They cascaded from above, settling at the base of the century-old apple tree like a pool of white satin at the hem of a wedding gown. Wedding gowns. Claude Reynaud had designed and sewn hundreds of them, but still, he thought, as he stitched on a lacy trim, they made him uneasy: the symbolism of the white dress, the secrecy of the veil, the surprise of the bride’s sudden appearance before the slow, irrevocable procession down the aisle. . . .
A fresh breeze from the wide-open window interrupted

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Praise for The Dressmaker

"One creates a relationship as carefully as one creates a wedding dress. The Dressmaker doesn't drop a stitch."—Rita Mae Brown

“What a pleasure to watch Elizabeth Oberbeck conjure up the world of French haute couture with effortless and playful ease and with the same ease spin her giddy plot. But what makes The Dressmaker so utterly irresistible is her hero, the ardent and pure hearted Claude. From first to last The Dressmaker is a delight.”—Margot Livesey, author of Banishing Verona

“We’ve read so much serious and interesting writing about food in fiction, and so little about the esthetic pleasures of couture, that Elizabeth Oberbeck’s novel shimmers with invention. Her imagination is amazingly tactile, visual and sensuous, a rare pleasure, her storytelling is moving and sure, and her characters as real as a morning espresso. The Dressmaker is a wonderful debut.”—Beth Gutcheon

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Elizabeth Oberbeck

Elizabeth Birkelund Oberbeck has worked in book and magazine publishing, contributed a regular column to Cosmopolitan, and written for Travel and Leisure, Glamour, and Working Woman, among other publications. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, with her husband and four sons. The Dressmaker is her first novel.

Elizabeth Birkelund Oberbeck


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Available Formats and Book Details

The Dressmaker
A Novel
Elizabeth Oberbeck

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
June 2006
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429985147
ISBN10: 1429985143
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 320 pages

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
May 2007
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312426927
ISBN10: 0312426925
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 320 pages

From The Publisher

Henry Holt and Co.

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