Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review: The Dressmaker, by Posie Graeme-Evans

 Ahhhh. Totally satisfying. That’s how I feel now that I’ve completed The Dressmaker. This is a novel that takes place in the 1850’s, in Europe, and follows the story of Ellen Gowan from the day her father dies (that’s not really a spoiler, because it happens in the first chapter) through many ups and downs, trials and tribulations, to her happy ending.

I’m not going to say much about the specific trials, but you can tell by the title that Ellen becomes a dressmaker.  That’s one of the things I loved about the story--the descriptions of the clothing.  And not just the clothing, but the furniture, drapes, and the entire setting was described so that you feel you are sitting in the drawing room with Ellen and her family. I found the actual process of designing and constructing garments during that time to be very interesting.

Back in the 1800s, once the husband/father had died or left for some reason, the women were fairly destitute. Unless one could find a relative or friend who would take you in, you might end up in the poor house. What could be even worse, was a husband who abused his wife. There was really no hope of escape. Even if you could get a divorce (which wasn’t likely) the husband was automatically given custody of the children. All of these situations factor into the story of The Dressmaker.

Graeme-Evans’ characters were marvelously flawed, and each had a distinct personality. Ellen was strong and inspiring; she was the one that refused to quit. She’s the one you want so badly to be happy.  Ellen lives with her cousin Oriana for a while, and they develop a deep, sisterly love, even though Oriana doesn’t have Ellen’s strong personality. Polly was one of my favorite characters.  She’s there at the beginning as Ellen’s housemaid when she is just a child, and she appears several more times throughout the story. The maturing of the relationship between Ellen and Polly is heartwarming to read. Raoul is brilliantly written to be the hero who becomes the villain. He’s very easy to hate.

The plot doesn’t speed along, but this is a richly detailed book about a certain time period, and I was reluctant to put the book down. I became really invested in the characters’ lives, and needed to find out what was going to happen. I enjoyed every minute of the telling, and was content with the ending.

Pick up The Dressmaker if you want to snuggle up with a heartwarming, romantic book about a time long ago. You won’t regret it!

Published by Atria in 2010
Copy was a gift from my Secret Santa!
439 pages (Qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5

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  1. This sounds like a great read! I'm going to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

  2. Ohhh! I am glad you liked this book. It is still one I'd like to give a try in the near future.

  3. THank you Annette. I was pointed to your blog and read your review of my book The Dressmaker with much pleasure. Three years to write but, in the end, its comments such as your own that make everything worthwhile.

    With warm thanks
    Posie Graeme-Evans

  4. This sounds like my kind of book. I've been looking forward to your review ever since I saw the cover on your blog. I'm so glad to hear you give it a positive review. I'm going to go add it to my TBR now. Thanks!

  5. Aw, I like the sound of this one...seems like a perfect book to curl up and read on a rainy day :) And love that cover!


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