What I’m Reading: The Dressmakers of Auschwitz

I stumbled upon a Facebook page that is focused on books that people who love historical fiction recommend. The group is a little repetitive but I still enjoy it. I saw a book come up called The Dressmakers of Auschwitz by Lucy Adlington.

I decided being I love to sew that maybe I should check the book out…but then I wasn’t sure as the title sounded familiar. I went to the blog, typed the name into the search bar, and nothing came up. Hmm. I must not have read it.

Libby had the book with not wait time so I downloaded it. I started listening to it and darn. The book sounded so familiar. I really felt like I had read it before. That’s when I remembered that yes…I had started the book, got frustrated with it and quite reading. That was about two years ago…and I was having the same problem with the book. UGH.

The author writes the stories of several different girls each flip flopping chapters. That’s not so bad but the author went into almost too much detail. For example the first chapter started out telling the first girls story…the author told all of her sisters names, her parents names, her brother-in-laws names…the name of the town they were born in…the name of the town they moved to.

As a reader just starting the book, it was hard because I didn’t know exactly what I needed to keep track of. Were one of the sisters going to later play a part in the story? As a reader, I felt like I needed to store so many names.

The problem doubled and tripled as the next girl’s story started. Now I was trying to keep track of three girls and all the sisters names, etc. I gave up on the book the first time around.

I was at the spot that I was ready to give up. I kept remembering that the person from the Facebook page recommended it. I ended up just being lazy and kept listening. I was sewing and the grove and didn’t want to disrupt my rhythm by stopping and looking for another book. If I stop the momentum, I end up down rabbit holes. So I just listened…eventually I got past all the name listings and the story started to take shape.

I ended up listening to the whole book…but did I like it. Yes…but. The book really should be a documentary. It reads more like a documentary. That’s not bad…it just is. So if you pick the book up, keep that in mind. It was actually very interesting and I’m so impressed with the courage of the women. The book does talk a lot about fashion from that time period in history and that was interesting as well.

Here is what Amazon had to say:

At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp – mainly Jewish women and girls – were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the gas chambers.

This fashion workshop – called the Upper Tailoring Studio – was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, and patronized by the wives of SS guards and officers. Here, the dressmakers produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust.

Drawing on diverse sources – including interviews with the last surviving seamstress – The Dressmakers of Auschwitz follows the fates of these brave women. Their bonds of family and friendship not only helped them endure persecution, but also to play their part in camp resistance. Weaving the dressmakers’ remarkable experiences within the context of Nazi policies for plunder and exploitation, historian Lucy Adlington exposes the greed, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the Third Reich and offers a fresh look at a little-known chapter of World War II and the Holocaust.”

Amazon readers gave the book 4.6 stars. I would say 4.3. Had I known in advance that I didn’t need to keep track of everyone’s name and that the book was more of a documentary style book, I might have given it more stars. That initial frustration was enough that it still played a part in my ranking the book. If you were to read the book and knew those things in advance, I do think you might very much enjoy the book.

You can find it HERE on Amazon.

10 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: The Dressmakers of Auschwitz”

  1. Marilyn riordan

    I am watching the Final Four and Iowa is leading!!!Yeah!I tried that book and found it a difficult read. Maybe I should give it another chance.
    Did you ever try Thrift books? They carry books on tape as well as books you hold. I use them a lot.

  2. Paula Hidalgo

    I’m reading it and agree, more like a historical book but, very interesting because I’ve sewn my whole life. I never knew fashion dominated life to such an extent!

  3. I had just returned from a trip to Europe where I visited Auschwitz, saw the rooms filled with the personal belongings of victims when I picked up this book. It brought back all the horror of those rooms but also showed how people can create beauty, family and joy in the most unusual places. I really loved this book, loved the detail, the back stories, the sense of humanity that lives in each of us.

  4. I had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz after reading this book. The author vividly portrayed the truth and horrors that should never be forgotten.

  5. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is also a good book. Cilka’s Journey is another. Same author. She has three other books that I have not read yet. Thanks for letting us know about this one. I am a fan of historical fiction also and am always looking for good books.

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