Her Mothers Secret: Natasha Lester

Author: Natasha Lester
ISBN: 9780733634659
Publication Date: April 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genre: Historical Fiction

Publishers Summary
A sweeping story of love and ambition from England to the Manhattan of the 1920s and 1940s by the author of A Kiss From Mr. Fitzgerald.
1918, England. Armistice Day should bring peace into Leonora's life. Rather than secretly making cosmetics in her father's chemist shop to sell to army nurses such as Joan, her adventurous Australian friend, Leo hopes to now display her wares openly. Instead, Spanish flu arrives in the village, claiming her father's life. Determined to start over, she boards a ship to New York City. On the way she meets debonair department store heir Everett Forsyth . . . In Manhattan, Leo works hard to make her cosmetics dream come true, but she's a woman alone with a small salary and a society that deems make-up scandalous.

1939, New York City. Everett's daughter, Alice, a promising ballerina, receives a mysterious letter inviting her to star in a series of advertisements for a cosmetics line. If she accepts she will be immortalised like dancers such as Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Ginger Rogers. Why, then, are her parents so quick to forbid it?

At first, I thought this was going to be a predictable read, but as the chapters flew by, the plot turned this way and that, and every time I thought I knew what was going to happen next, a clever little twist popped up to fool me.

I really started to enjoy the book from the moment that Leo landed in New York and found lodgings and work in China Town. 
This is where Leo's strong character shines through, by choosing to live in a cheap rent area and by working at menial jobs, Leo flew in the face of social norms, but running the risk of social ostracism did not deter her.

Known for her diligent research, author Natasha Lester really comes in to her own when describing historical settings: the street vendors, the stores and their wares, and, notably, the wonderful descriptions of the fashions, each dress so beautifully described that the reader can all but see them.

I loved reading about how things were made and how things were done, how the cosmetic packagings were designed and manufactured, and who knew what it took to dress the window of a big store!

For me, it is all the wonderful historical detail that elevates this book above and beyond others of this genre. It is lovely to escape to this wonderful world that Natasha Lester builds for her readers.
At one point though, the book does take a significant leap forward in time where the storyline changes to another character. This did interrupt the flow for me, it sort of jolted me out of the story and it took time to settle back into it. 

I highly recommend “Her Mothers Secret” to those who love a well written, well researched and heartwarming story.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books Australia

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