Monday 15 May 2023

The Three Lives of Alix St. Pierre

Finished May 10
The Three Lives of Alix St. Pierre by Natasha Lester

This novel follows more than one timeline and moves between them. The author has done a lot of research for this book and there are notes at the end that tell us what she took from real people and events and what she created. The character at the centre of the novel is a creation, but she is placed around real events and real people as her story unfolds. 
The book opens with Alix graduating from private boarding school in Switzerland and moving on with her plan to create an independent life for herself. Alix was orphaned while still a child and taken in by a wealthy Hollywood family that her parents, costumers, had worked for. We see her going to Paris and charming her way into a job in the fashion industry. 
The book then jumps ahead nearly ten years and Alix is once again arriving in Paris for a job in the fashion industry, only this time she's been invited, and the job is heading PR for Maison Christian Dior just before the launch of his first collection in 1947. Alix has been working in New York City, and has bad memories of Europe due to her time spent there during the war. Unfortunately, it seems like she isn't able to leave those memories behind as a voice from her past seems determined to affect her present. 
The book then jumps back to 1942, where Alix worked in Bern, Switzerland as an OSS agent, where she deals with a unsupportive superior, and yet still manages to make significant impacts in Italy through her contacts there. 
The book moves back and forth between Paris (and later New York) in 1947 and Alix's time in Europe during the war, and we see how the events from the past are still affecting her emotionally and with real threats to the life she wants to live. 
This is a book that sometimes had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happened next, and sometimes brought emotions as I learned of what Alix did and lived through. This illuminated a part of World War II that was less familiar to me, and the author's note really helped to clarify that. 
Definitely worth the read. 

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