Author: Posie Graeme-Evans

Publisher: Atria Paperback (A division of Simon and Schuster)

ISBN-10: 978-0-7432-9442-3

Click Here To Purchase The Dressmaker: A Novel

In her newest book, The Dressmaker, author Posie Graeme-Evans has based her characters in time and place so convincingly that for those who do not have a thorough knowledge of England in the mid-1800s, it reads as historically accurate. She has captured the flavor of the city and the tone of a class-defined society so well that she has made the experience of reading the story one of complete immersion in a different era. It was a pleasurable excursion that kept me riveted to the page.

As it involves the art of sewing, it is a somewhat literal rags-to-riches story. Ellen Gowan’s life begins with an idyllic childhood during which she is ignorant of her family’s lack of wealth. When tragedy strikes, her resourcefulness saves her and her mother from homelessness. She later escapes misery by again relying on her talents with needle and thread.

Ellen’s progression from poor to successful is made interesting by the other people in her life. As in real life, there are some characters who assist her and some who stand to thwart her in her dreams. Graeme-Evans does an admirable job of character development, creating fully formed people with several dimensions. I thought only one character showed serious mental defects because some of his actions were out of character without any basis for the disconnect. Raoul is meant to be the scoundrel whom readers love to hate, but even given this leeway in where his actions can take him, his demeanor seems to take dramatic turns without any provocation. I was left thinking that if he did have a severe mental infirmity such as bipolar disorder, in that day and age it would have gone undiagnosed.

I learned a lot from reading the interview with the author at the end of the book. Graeme-Evans works hard at making her books authentic by traveling to and studying the settings, language, and other trappings for the stories. It made me appreciate the work that goes into her writing to know that she reads dialogue from the era she’s using so that the characters speak in a convincing way. I found it humorous when she admitted that the people in her books “won’t be told sometimes [how to speak]. They’ll say what they say!”

There were a few ideas that struck me as improbable, but the author deftly glosses over these rough spots with captivating drama so that it was convenient to render them plausible and follow the story to its gratifying conclusion.

Click Here To Purchase The Dressmaker: A Novel