The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon – Sarah Steele
Available in Ebook, Hardback and Audiobook (6 August 2020) | Paperback (10 June 2021)
Source: Copy received for review via Netgalley
I’m delighted to be starting the blog tour and my thanks to Rosie of Headline for offering an early copy of this for review. It looked just my type of read and I didn’t need any persuading to take part in the cover reveal and to be involved in the blog tour. And fellow readers, I can tell you this is a glorious read and you are in for a treat. Before I tell you what I think, here’s what the book is about.
ABOUT THE BOOK
To unravel that long-lost summer, she had to follow the thread…
Florence Connelly is broken hearted. Her marriage has collapsed under the weight of the loss she shares with her husband, and her beloved grandmother has just died. Even the joy she found in dressmaking is gone.
But things change when Flo opens a box of vintage 1960s dress patterns found inside her grandmother’s wardrobe. Inside each pattern packet is a fabric swatch, a postcard from Europe and a photograph of a mysterious young woman, Nancy Moon, wearing the hand-made dress.
Flo discovers that Nancy was a distant relation who took the boat train to Paris in 1962 and never returned. With no one to stay home for, Flo decides to follow Nancy’s thread. She unravels an untold story of love and loss in her family’s past. And begins to stitch the pieces of her own life back together.
The dual time story, set during the early 1960s and the present day begins with an intriguing prologue with a woman boarding a train bound from London to France and being seen off by a small group of friends. Who is she and why is she leaving.
Following her grandmother’s funeral, Florence (Flo) is broken, as seems is her marriage to Seamus. Personal heartache has taken its toll and she doesn’t know if the marriage can ever be repaired. Whilst going through her grandmother Peggy’s belongings, Flo comes across a box of dressmaking pattern packets, each with a fabric swatch, a photo and a note of where it was taken. Each photo includes a young woman that Flo recognises from another photo of Peggy’s wedding that includes her friends. There is a name on each photo – “Nancy”. Who is Nancy and why has Peggy never mentioned her?
Alone and now rudderless, Flo, like Nancy, a talented seamstress, decides to follow in Nancy’s footsteps by re-creating the dresses and following the photos to their destinations to try and find out what happened to this mysterious Nancy.
The story is told by both Flo and Nancy however I was captivated throughout by Nancy’s story. As a young girl following her dream, her life unexpectedly changed course and she found herself travelling across Europe – Paris, the South of France, Capri …. there was a dress and a photo for every stop. The biggest mystery however involved Nancy herself. What happened to her.
As Flo turns detective and tries to follow in Nancy’s footsteps, it gradually becomes clearer to her what she really wants from her own life. I have to admit that I did prefer Nancy’s character and I loved reading about her part in the story. Nancy had far more charisma and strength of character and the positive impact she made on others lives was quite touching. It’s just personal preference, but Flo didn’t really match up for me in quite the same way.
This is the author’s debut novel and her own love of dressmaking, such a big part of Nancy and Flo’s lives has been incorporated to form a story that has many layers. There may be glamour with fantastic locations – vividly described to give a sense of place but there is also sadness and loss with more than one character keeping secrets. Did Flo discover Nancy’s fate? – You will have to read the book to find out.
This is a story beautifully written and I loved it. There are superbly drawn characters wrapped up in an engaging story of love, loss and hope. I can’t wait to see what Sarah Steele writes next.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After training in London as a classical pianist and violinist, Sarah Steele joined the world of publishing as assistant at Hodder and Stoughton. She was for many years a freelance editor. Sarah was the director of Wordfest at Gloucester Cathedral, which culminated in a suffragette march led by Helen Pankhurst. She lives in Stroud. The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon is her first novel.