Review: ‘The Dressmaker’

17 Jan

I read Rosalie Ham’s The Dressmaker on the recommendation of a friend, who said that it was a gripping tale of revenge and a great example of Australian fiction.  Unfortunately, with the exception of this being a tale of revenge, I did not feel that any of the other promises were upheld!

I found Ham’s writing to often be confusing.  For example, she dwelt on moments of seeming insignificance, slowing the story using detail and description. She also assembled a great cast of characters, each of whom was introduced in great detail even though some of them were not essential to the narrative.

That said, I was marginally intrigued by the notion that The Dressmaker might be an interesting companion text to Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  Both texts, for example, feature powerful women and both texts have at their core a preoccupation with revenge.   Both texts are also interested with the tension between appearance and reality.  In The Dressmaker, this plays out through the outfits created by Tilly which transform appearance and are leveraged to warp perceptions of reality.


The Macbeth connections aside, I cannot say that I enjoyed this novel.


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