Rosalie Hamm || The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker is somewhere in between a nice feel good novel and ‘literature’. There is just not enough character development or structural ingenuity for the latter, the stereotypes are interesting enough to give the novel that extra touch . The novel furthermore effectively paints a picture of small town communities and their intolerance, their petty judgement of those who do not fit precisely. The poor family who literally lives on the edge, next to the garbage dunk; the police offer who cannot admit to being a cross dresser and who loves making his own clothes; the girl who marries up but is not accepted by the in-laws; the politician’s wife who is cheated on and drugged by her loving husband; and finally the unwed mother and her daughter, never to be forgiven for not being legitimate.  This daughter, Tilly, has been bullied throughout childhood and has left the little village. When she returns she turns out to be an accomplished dressmaker. Not only does she do a perfect stitch, her dresses accentuate assets and transform their wearers into beautiful women.   Despite the fact that Tilly provides beautiful clothes for all the women in the village, she is still not accepted. She remains the child born out of wedlock and, through no fault of her, responsible for the untimely death of the biggest bully of all (one can hardly blame her for stepping aside when he charges at her head first).  The intolerance of the village and the harsh rules that dictate life in this Australian rural community have been described effectively by Hamm.  You can try as hard as you can, if you do not fit you do not fit. Tilly ultimately takes revenge on the village and does not take pity on those few who meant her well. At that moment The Dressmaker does not make the step to literature, the end is just too predictable. It does make for an ideal novel for cold winter days.



About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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