Claude Reynaud, an old-fashioned French dressmaker who creates handmade gowns in his cluttered studio outside Paris, falls madly in love with Valentine de Verlay, who has asked him to make her the perfect wedding gown. A refreshingly original romance - the detail of the description of the process of dressmaking is intriguing and the making of the dress is paralleled by the development of the relationship. Great holiday read.
Claude asked Mademoiselle de Verlay to step onto the platform that his grandfather had built a century ago, now a warped dark wood. She unwrapped the sweater she wore around her neck and took off her cardigan to reveal a white T-shirt: an unraveling. Within moments, Claude had memorized her measurements: square shoulders, small bust, wider curve at the hip, very long neck. Delicately, Claude eased his worn yellow measuring tape along her neck, waist, arm length, leg and torso. Unlike his father, who recorded every detail of a person's size, Claude kept no client files. He never forgot a body. His photographic mind easily memorized the distances between wrist and collarbone, hip and hip, ankle and waist. He used the measuring tape as a distraction while he absorbed skin, hair texture, color, and the way his client moved.