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The Dressmaker Paperback – July 1, 1996


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Paperback, July 1, 1996
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers (July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786703229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786703227
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Beryl Bainbridge wrote seventeen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, she won literary awards including the Whitbread Prize and Author of the Year at the British Book Awards. She died in July 2010. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From AudioFile

English actor and audiobook reader Jacqueline King performs this thickly British story with the skill necessary to enliven five distinct characters and stitch them all together through the lucid prose of the novel's guiding narrator. In that the story is beautifully constructed to begin with, the listener is in for a fine artistic experience. The setting is Liverpool, 1944. The war pressures naïve teenaged Rita to dream beyond the fortified shores of her own country. The town is full of Yanks who come from the land of Hollywood. Rita claims one for herself, but her two aunts, who have raised her, see more and less in him than Rita suspects. The ending is inspired and in itself gives reason why this book was runner-up for the Booker Prize. The recording quality is hissy (muffled with Dolby), but it strangely adds to the atmosphere if one knows how radios used to sound during those dark, uncertain days. P.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Beryl Bainbridge's "The Dressmaker" (a Booker Prize nominee) is a quietly haunting tale of repressed lives in war time England. A young girl living with her two aunts falls in love with an American soldier with a secret and less than honourable designs. The outcome of this one-sided love affair (conducted mainly in Rita's head) is a foregone conclusion and possibly the least important aspect of the novel. Bainbridge's interest lies in the exploration of small town provincial lives. Aunt Nellie's obsession with family heirlooms and being the faithful custodian of her late mother's furniture and other treasures is both touching and sad. Sad, because these objects have become a substitute for living. Aunt Margo - the younger widowed aunt - inhabits the novel's moral centre. Taut and crackling with repressed desire and emotion, she deeply resents the family pressure that forced her to give up a second chance at conjugal bliss. Her feelings towards Rita's doomed affair with Ira are certainly ambivalent. She acts out of genuine concern for Rita but there is a strong element of sexual envy as well. Bainbridge's writing is confident and authentic. Clearly, she understands the lives she's writing about. Readers may find the going slow. For that reason, it will not appeal to all, but for its genre (reminds me a little of Penelope Fitzgerald's "The Bookshop"), "The Dressmaker" is a triump and a worthy read.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on July 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read about a dozen of this lady's works, and this is one of the more chilling tales I have experienced. Everything about the characters is artificial bordering on unnatural. I found the cadence of the book slow, almost plodding, however taken as a complete tale the very opposite is the case.
A young girl Rita described as, "wrapped in tissue paper all her life", lives with two Aunts, with frequent visits from her, "Uncle". Those that have raised her live lives so bereft of anything worth mentioning, that their nurturing of this child into a young woman cannot produce a practically educated woman, much less a confident individual who is worldly wise. When Rita decides to step out with her peers to engage with young men, the participation from the mentioned relatives ranges from too little too late, to reprehensibly cruel.
The Uncle who is a butcher cannot abide blood when an assistant cuts himself. One Aunt has created a museum of her Mother's furniture and knickknacks inclusive of a severe portrait of the deceased that overlooks this memorial. While this could be called eccentric, the author elevates the obsession exponentially.
Nothing is positive in this view of World War II England. Even the American Soldiers are described as having but 3 faults; they are overpaid, oversexed, and over here. Even the cat that haunts this house has a name that is unprintable here, however the moniker is consistent with commentary on Catholics, Mongrel Americans, and others ad nauseum.
Ms. Bainbridge writes wonderful work that really needs to be read to the final page. She does not tip her hand, the ending is only predictable as the pages left become fewer, and only when she is ready does she deliver her sometimes-dramatic conclusion. In this event it is a bit like a hammer between the eyes.
Once again, "The Dressmaker", is another a unique tale from this wonderfully diverse Author, and is well worth your time.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Bainbridge is a master at depicting claustrophobic family situations (and in later work historical settings). The young woman at the center of this book has some sense of her limited oportunities and is blinded to the true nature of her romantic interest: he's a pig. Her Aunts realize this fact (though to one of them he apparently has some appeal) and it all works out quite strangely. A simple story with just a few characters but Bainbridge's psychologically penetrating descriptions and dialogue make this a memorable book. If you enjoy it, read A QUIET LIFE which is equally claustrophobic and intense.
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Format: Paperback
To whet my appetite for the 2013 Booker longlist I thought I’d travel back 40 years and visit a shortlisted novel from the 1973 shortlist (the year that the magnificent masterpiece J.G. Farrell’s “The Siege of Krishnapur” took home the prize). Some years you could just be plain stiff being published in the same year as a standout, others you could fluke a shortlist just by having a solid work. As a result I thought a trip back to 1973 would be in order.

Beryl Bainbridge made the Booker shortlist with, obviously this novel, “The Bottle Factory Outing” in 1974, “An Awfully Big Adventure” in 1990, “Every Man For Himself” in 1996, “Master Georgie” in 1998, as well as being a judge in 1977. So five shortlists, prior to her death in 2010, but no gong!!!

As per a large number of her novels “The Dressmaker” is set in a working class family, this time in Liverpool during the Second World War. The main thread of the story follows the 17 year old Rita, naive and in love with an American who is a mechanic nearby. Rita was raised by her two aunts, Marge, who was once married to a soldier and is wise to the ways of the world, and Nellie, a dressmaker who covets their mother’s furniture in the hope of nothing changing.

For my full review go to [...]
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