Friday 31 July 2015

Blog Tour: The Milliner's Secret by Natalie Meg Evans

TitleThe Milliner's Secret
AuthorNatalie Meg Evans
Published: 30th July 2015
Publisher: Quercus

Hello Everyone, today I am part of the blog tour for the gorgeous The Milliner's Secret by Natalie Meg Evans. I am thrilled to share with you a wonderful Extract that will definitely want you to read the book and a Giveaway at the end of the post! As usual, the other brilliant stops on the tour are listed below, so please do stop by their blogs for some other great content posts.

Chapter Three

Paris, 16 June 1937

Coralie de Lirac woke by degrees until the smell of laundered cotton reminded her that she was in her bedroom, in the Hôtel Duet. Banking her pillows behind her, she inhaled a waft of rose-attar. Thornless Zéphirine Drouhins in a vase on the dressing-table had transformed into organza crinolines as she slept.

The moments before the day asserted itself gave her time to believe in her new existence. To those left behind in London, it must seem that Cora Masson had simply vanished. It was true.
Cora Masson no longer existed. 

She mentally reassembled her surroundings, beginning with walls of watered silk, wedding-veil curtains and a Chinese carpet. A cream-painted armoire took up nearly a whole wall. There was a sitting room through an arch with deep-buttoned chairs and a sofa sprung like clouds. A pearly bathroom made her gasp each time she walked into it. When poor Cora Masson had wanted a good wash, she’d gone to the council swimming-baths. 

Outside, boulevard de Courcelles hummed with light traffic, which paused now and then to allow birdsong through. An elegant road to the north-west of Paris, it straddled the 8th and 17th arrondissements. Parc Monceau lay just across the street, where Coralie loved to walk early in the morning when the grass sparkled. She was learning how to be alone for the first time in her life.
By mid-morning, impatient residents competed with tourists for pavement space. The Exposition Internationale was open for business, and according to the hotel porter – a man never without his copy of the newspaper Le Petit Parisien – up to 150,000 visitors swarmed through its pavilions each day.

Hearing a knock, she called, ‘Entrez, s’il vous plaît.’ Speaking French was becoming second nature. Dietrich had accepted her story of being Coralie de Lirac, orphaned daughter of Belgian- French émigrés to London. On the train journey, he’d been curious about her millinery career, but hadn’t pressed when she’d brushed him off with ‘I make hats when I feel like it.’ In his world, it seemed to be normal for young women to take jobs for fun and drop them when more exciting prospects offered themselves. As for her fluency in French, which had amazed everyone she’d ever met in London – he spoke three languages and seemed to think it perfectly reasonable that she should speak two.
He’d been unimpressed by her accent, however. ‘You sound like a kitchen maid. I shall send you to a teacher I know.’ So, twice a day now, Coralie crossed the Seine to converse with a Mademoiselle Deveau, whom Dietrich had met some years ago in Berlin. He’d been her pupil. ‘Anyone who can get Germans sounding their rs at the back of the throat and pronouncing –euille like a native will buff you up in no time.’

Two two-hour lessons each day had brought Coralie’s French on fast, but such concentrated mental effort tired her. To relax, she always walked to Mademoiselle Deveau’s Left Bank flat, taking a different bridge each time so she could see Paris from new viewpoints. The hotel’s commissionaire would have called a taxi for her, and Dietrich provided her with cash for such essentials, but she loved exploring. Paris stone was the colour of unbleached flour, or of golden pastry. Roofs were all of uniform pitch, with dormer windows peering through the slates. First and second-floor balconies were black-metal lace. She even found herself admiring trees, lampposts, Métro canopies . . .
‘You are responding to the genius of Haussmann,’ Dietrich had told her. ‘He married stone with light to raise the eye from the pavement to the sky. For the trees lining the boulevards, thank Napoleon the Third. As for curly street furniture, you are admiring art nouveau.’

Dietrich enjoyed educating her, when he had time. He was busy for much of the day, catching up with his many contacts. On their arrival, though, he’d devoted a whole day to her, taking her to the department store Printemps. Handing her over to a saleswoman, a vendeuse, he’d said, ‘Mademoiselle lost her luggage on the journey. Please ensure she has everything she needs.’
For three hours the vendeuse had held her captive. The oversized armoire now held summer dresses, jackets and shoes. Her chest of drawers was full of gossamer lingerie so fine Coralie was reluctant to wear it.

Soon, Dietrich promised, he would take her to his favourite couturier for clothes that would change her for ever. She’d objected. There was only so much change a person could take in one go, and he shouldn’t be spending money on her. Bringing her to Paris had been enough. But he seemed to take pleasure in it, and as for money, there didn’t seem to be any shortage.

To be in with a chance of winning one paperback copy of The Milliner's Secret by Natalie Meg Evans, enter via Rafflecopter below. UK only I'm afraid.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. That cover! It's gorgeous!

  2. I'd love to win this as it's on my wish list. Thanks for the chance to enter.

  3. I love a good book, especially discovering a new author :)

  4. Paula Readings02/08/2015, 17:08

    It looks like something I would enjoy reading

  5. Just popping in to say, 'Hi everyone' and thanks for doing this, Laura. Good luck to everyone entering the giveaway.

  6. It looks a thoroughly enjoyable book

  7. It looks like an interesting read and I'm in need of a new book!

  8. I spend a lot of time reading at the moment & love to have a variety to choose from. This looks great!