The Seamstress reveals the untold story of a cameo character in Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities. What inspired you to elaborate on the life of this character in particular?

 ALLISON: At the end of the novel A Tale of Two Cities, the character Sydney Carton has this beautiful, sweet moment with a young seamstress. (Dickens describes her as a “little seamstress.”) It’s a moment meant to show the redemption of Sydney Carton, a man who sees himself as one who has wasted his life. The seamstress herself is nameless, appearing only in the final pages of the novel. Even so, left to herself, she is a powerful, important character. But—she mentions having a cousin in the country. That little detail used to seem like a throwaway fact.

Then I became a writer, and I learned that nothing is a throwaway fact. Why mention the cousin? The seamstress is a symbol. A metaphor. She doesn’t need a cousin. I was standing in front of the students in my sophomore English class, discussing this final scene, and I had a throwaway line of my own: “I should write that story.”

NORA: Thanks for sharing how you were inspired by a Charles Dicken’s character. I’m intrigued. I know others will be too!

Tell us about some of the core themes explored in your book. How do you hope readers might relate these themes to their own lives and real-world experiences?

ALLISON: I think, after sifting through the layers of the parallel stories, the core theme comes down to two concepts: honor and grace. In the story’s first pages, Gagnon acts with honor, taking in the orphaned cousins; moreover, he is honorable the entire time they are in his care, even when they grow from little girls into young women. He guards and shields them, honoring God in every moment, even when that moment means letting them go.  Renée honors her country’s queen, even when popular opinion dictates such respect is not deserved. And Laurette, in her darkest moment, honors what she knows to be good and right. Even the rebel Marcel acts in a manner that he sees as honorable, ready to fight and die for those who cannot do so for themselves.

Ultimately, it is this sense of honor that drives all of these characters—for a time—to make choices that divide them from each other. And yet, after so much hurt, betrayal, desperation, and bloodshed, grace and forgiveness wrap them back up together. There is a scene in the novel when all of the principal characters are gathered around a table, sharing a very meager meal. They differ in politics, in age, in ideology, and in experience. Still, there is kindness, civility, and a willingness to sacrifice for the good of each other. We all have to do better, to want a better world for each other, even if it means not having everything exactly as we’d like it to be. We need to be willing to give, to listen, to share, and—yes—to speak, when our words can be measured and delivered with care.

NORA: Amen! Amen!

Why is it important to explore these topics in our current culture?

ALLISON: Dickens famously opens his novel with the paradox: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .”

He concludes that series of paradoxical statements by saying (forgive the paraphrase) that the events of his story take place in a time just like the present age. To me, no matter when you read that novel, you are reading in the present age. When taken in superlative generalities, the tumultuous time of the French Revolution was no different than what and where and when we are living today. The characters in the story are living in a time of upheaval: political, economic, religious, cultural—all fronts. Their world is changing, and the system under which they’ve been living is failing. It’s a time of unchecked violence, weak leadership, and a cultural trend toward secularism. So . . . I can see it. Can you?

NORA: Oh, Yeah! Good Point! I like how you said that.

What is the value of fiction and storytelling in today’s society?

ALLISON: Fiction gives us a chance to explore. I don’t mean just learning about cities and history, but a chance to explore mindsets and points of view. In The Seamstress readers get to see not only the unfolding of a revolution, but the desperation and poverty that led to that violence and destruction. Fiction allows us to empathize with the kinds of people we might never meet in real life. I think sometimes we feel safer letting a fictional character into our heart because it’s a safe way to explore new emotions. We can make predictions and lose nothing if we’re wrong. People like to think of fiction as an escape, but I prefer to see it—and create it—as an immersion.

What role does faith play in this story?

ALLISON: Both Laurette and Renée were raised with an ever-present sense of religion in a staunchly Catholic village. Neither girl, however, in her simple, pastoral life, ever sought anything deeper than ritualistic practice—Laurette, not even that. Their prayers are memorized and recited, with a concept of God as a looming, far-off presence. Though their paths are markedly different, each has to come to a place where she needs to trust in the forgiveness of Christ in order to forgive her own choices. Faith is what allows us to live with ourselves.

NORA: So, True!

What are some future projects you’re working on?

ALLISON: As of this moment, all future projects are still in an early stage—too early for specifics. I will say that I am NOT finished with Dickens. I’m looking at other fictional characters who need to leap into my pages as well as historical figures who might show up in a story yet untold.

NORA: Looking forward to hearing more about this Allison as it evolves!

Allison Pittman, author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels is a three-time Christy final - twice for her Sister Wife series and once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty next with her husband, Mike.

LAST DAY to Enter Drawing FEB 5th
PLEASE remember to include your email address!

1.  What is your favorite Charles Dickens story? and Why?
2.  What do you love about reading Christian Fiction? What's the draw for you?
3. If you could make one wish that was guaranteed to come true, what would it be? Why make the wish? What are your hopes in having your wish granted?

Nora: Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books Allison. Looking forward to sharing this book and your interview with readers. I'm Excited about the giveaway opportunity. Grin!


Nora :o)

Nora St. Laurent The Book Club Network Inc.
You can read author interviews, reviews, learn about book signings, TBCN giveaways, she created called The Book Club Network (TBCN) blog,

Nora has also run book clubs face to face and TBCN On-Line Book Club. She enjoys working part-time for the Public Library as a CSA.


  1. Hi, Before even reading the question and answer interview... I read the choice of questions one could answer. Especially, Charles Dickens! A Tale of Two Cities popped into my mind! In a high school English class, we did an intense study of the story, time period, and chacacters. It definitely left a huge impression on me!
    Thanks, Cindi

  2. Oh this sounds like such a great story!! I love to read Christian fiction because of the message in the stories, life isn't always easy, but there is always hope!

  3. My favorite is A Christmas Carol. I love Bob Cratchit's constant positivity. This looks like an interesting book. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  4. My favorite Dickens is The Tale of Two Cities. I like the sacrifice that it shows and the bravery . I like that it is about France , too. Although I like most of Dickens. He had such humor and taught many spiritual truths. My second favorite is Nicholas Nickleby. So many good stories of overcoming.
    And the recent adaptations are just great!
    Thanks for the chance to win. paulams49ATsbcglobalDOTnet

  5. 1. What is your favorite Charles Dickens story? and Why? Honestly, I haven't read any Dickens' novels but I've seen several versions of A Christmas Carol and I like it. Does that count? :)
    2. What do you love about reading Christian Fiction? I love reading CF. It takes me to other places I can't go in real life I love experiencing adventures with the characters. It entertains me with out the smut and garbage that secular books and entertainment try to push.
    3. If you could make one wish that was guaranteed to come true, what would it be? Why make the wish? What are your hopes in having your wish granted? I wish my children would all love and serve God with all their hearts.

  6. I forgot to leave my email address with my comment. douglas(dot)emilee(at)yahoo(dot)com

  7. I enjoy Christian fiction because it never fails to inspire me and teach me something new.

  8. Oops - forgot to leave my email: nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

  9. I love to read many genres, with Christian Fiction being one. I ready enjoy the chance to follow a story that may not be true to real life, but explores areas that touch my heart.

  10. I enjoy Christian fiction because I know that there won't be offensive language or explicit sexuality and I am often challenged and prompted to seek God's Word for further study of the subject matter. I have seen wonderful reviews of this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  11. 1.My favorite Dicken’s book is Great Expectations. It was interesting following the orphan boy, Pip on his life journey.
    The book is filled with a cast of colorful, well created characters. It is full of description & surprise happenings.
    2.Christian Reading provides the reader with clean wholesome stories from which the reader can learn about
    life situations and how faith in God & prayer always prevail.
    3. My one wish would be health and spiritual guidance for my family. My love for them would be my reason to make my wish. My hope would be that with my wish granted when I passed away my family would be able to carry on with their lives.
    Carol Smith

  12. I like Christian fiction for its inspiration. Seeing how characters grow in their faith, how they handle situations as they rely on Gods help and how God speaks into their lives.

  13. I like the lessons and reminders I get from reading Christian fiction. It keeps me going and on the right path! lattebooksAThotmailDOTcom

  14. I would wish to be thin and be able to eat all I wanted and stay healthy and not gain weight!
    Gail Hollingsworth

  15. 1. My favourite Charles Dickens book is Oliver Twist. I think it's such a sweet story that I never get tired of reading. A lot of CD books are very melancholy in theme, A Tale of Two Cities being a good example, and I like that Oliver Twists writing style is a bit more light-hearted.

  16. I read Christian fiction because it is so encouraging. As you read you get to think about who God is. You are reminded of how much He desires a relationship with you. Also I think you get to view relationship through his eyes not the world.

  17. I love reading Christian fiction, especially historical Christian fiction, because I always feel I can learn something. I don’t have to worry about reading something offensive!

  18. If you could make one wish that was guaranteed to come true, what would it be? Why make the wish? What are your hopes in having your wish granted?
    My wish would be for my daughter to talk to me again. I wish this because I love her unconditionally and would lay down my life for her and I need her in my life. My hopes in having this wish granted is not only to be able to see my daughter again, but to finally meet my 5 month old granddaughter. I pray for her heart to soften. God has a plan, He has to because I can't do it in my own. Gntry555 at gmail.

  19. I enjoy reading Christian fiction, because I don't have to worry about coming across offensive material. The CF authors I've met, both in person and on social media are so wonderful and gracious.

    I've heard so many wonderful things about this book. I'd love to read it.

  20. I forgot my email address: whthomas13 at yahoo dot com

  21. I like Christian fiction because I like to see how characters remember and use Scripture and seek God's guidance. I also like the clean language and life style.