Oberbeck, Elizabeth Birkelund (Elizabeth Oberbeck)

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Oberbeck, Elizabeth Birkelund (Elizabeth Oberbeck)

PERSONAL:

Married; children: four sons.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Greenwich, CT. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, novelist, and columnist. Worked in book and magazine publishing.

WRITINGS:

The Dressmaker (novel), Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.

Author of a column in Cosmopolitan.

Contributor to periodicals, including Travel and Leisure, Glamour, and Working Woman.

SIDELIGHTS:

Novelist Elizabeth Birkelund Oberbeck is a magazine journalist and columnist. Her debut novel, The Dressmaker, tells the story of reclusive fashion designer and dressmaker Claude Reynaud, lonely but devoted to his business since his wife, Rose-Marie, left him eight years earlier. His considerable fashion talents earn him an expanding client list of upper-class Parisian women, who clamor for his new dress designs. While his designs consistently ignite the Paris fashion world, the middle-aged Reynaud prefers the simpler life in the small French village of Senlis, where he dotes on his two energetic nephews, talks to his parrot, and mends his neighbor's torn clothing. His modest and serene life changes drastically when he encounters Valentine de Verlay, a beautiful young woman who hires Reynaud to design her wedding dress. Reynaud is immediately attracted to the much younger woman, and when the two indulge in a brief stolen kiss at her engagement party, it seems that the attraction is mutual. Their romance is doomed, however; when Valentine's brutish fiancé Victor loses his job, she feels it is her duty to marry him. As Reynaud pursues his career, he is invited to join a large Paris design firm, where he becomes famous largely based on the wedding dress he designed for Valentine. Rose-Marie returns unexpectedly, seeking money, not love, claiming a part of Reynaud's increased fortunes since the two were never officially divorced. On a business trip to New York, Reynaud once again encounters Valentine, but a conflict with the drunken Victor makes him reconsider his attraction to Valentine, and long for his far-away village home. Oberbeck "successfully creates the intrigue one wants for a wedding gown designer who falls in love with his client and vice versa," noted a contributor to Publishers Weekly. Booklist reviewer Deborah Donovan called Oberbeck's novel an "engaging dissection of high fashion and those who determine its whimsical direction."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2006, Deborah Donovan, review of The Dressmaker, p. 39.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2006, review of The Dressmaker, p. 490.

Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2006, review of The Dressmaker, p. 51.

ONLINE

Elizabeth Oberbeck Home Page,http://www.elizabethoberbeck.com (January 2, 2007).

Powells.com,http://www.powells.com/ (January 2, 2007), review of The Dressmaker.