A Change in Fashion Hardcover – 1 Aug 2013
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About the Author
Born in Middlesbrough, Susan Gale spent her childhood on the Northumbrian coast. In 1962 her family returned to North Yorkshire to live in Guisborough at the foot of the moors. Susan read French at Leicester University and worked in France during the sixties, where she met her German husband. For over thirty years she taught English as a Second Language at a state college in Hamburg. During this period she wrote a series of ESL textbooks for adult students, which were published in Germany under her married name, Susan Lau. A Change in Fashion is her first novel. It reflects her love of the moors and coast of her native Yorkshire, her experiences living abroad and her interest in food, wine and fashion. Susan has two daughters and lives in the countryside near Hamburg with her husband Walter and Labrador Lily.
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This is Susan Gale's first novel, and my goodness what a fantastic debut. I was drawn into Holly's life and story in just a few pages:there is such clarity in its sense of place, the period (starting in 1967), and moreover the personal feelings of this young girl working in Paris. She feels a mixture of sheer excitement as well as nervous trepidation at the challenge.
The narrative is brilliantly filmic as the reader is taken on an emotional, time travelling journey. Neatly placed flashbacks take us to Yorkshire in the early sixties, where Holly's family home and lifestyle is evocatively described. Her friendship with Flo and other school and village friends is captured well, especially a teenager's blossoming attraction to the opposite sex.
I was a young schoolgirl during the period of this story, so knowledge of the Swinging 60s is through vintage magazines, films and documentaries. You certainly do not need to have any understanding of the time and place - that's what makes it an enchanting, unique story.
Susan Gale must have done extraordinary amount of research to be able to convey the world of Haute Couture fashion, the competitive work of the Designers, models, Fashion shows. I love the authentic "real life" ambience, mentioning Chanel, Dior, Gucci, St. Laurent, et al. The glamorous gowns, the cut of a coat, the shimmering silk, all comes clearly into vision through the words only without a single photograph required!
For those who loved The Devil Wears Prada, are fascinated by fashion, past and present, and enjoy a page-turning dramatic love story, this novel is a must read. As well as the backdrop of Parisian couture, another essential part of the narrative covers feminism, women's emancipation for equality and the fight for change in social and moral attitudes.
The dual setting of Paris and Yorkshire is beautifully constructed, chapter by chapter, and the fast changing world of the Sixties for women, would make a magical, romantic film.
When are you publishing your next novel, Susan Gale?!