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The Dressmaker: A Novel Kindle Edition

33 customer reviews

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Length: 468 pages

The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray
"The Mark and the Void" by Paul Murray
The Mark and the Void is the funniest novel ever written about the recent financial crisis, and a stirring examination of the deceptions carried out in the names of art and commerce. Learn more | See more from the author

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Big girls in 19th-century England don't cry in Graeme-Evans's light tale about a plucky heroine who endures a series of harsh trials on her way to becoming London's leading dressmaker. Things start to go south for curate's daughter Ellen Gowan on her 13th birthday, when the dress Connie, her mother, makes her, entices one of her father's students to steal a kiss. Scandal and ruination seem imminent when her father dies, forcing mother and daughter to seek refuge with Connie's sister, who lives in terror of her baronet husband. There, Ellen's friendship with her cousin, Oriana, blossoms, until once again a young man stirs trouble, and Connie and Ellen land in London, where Connie succumbs to illness and Ellen marries a cad who leaves her pregnant and alone. But with a little help from friends, family, and unlikely sources, Ellen becomes the go-to creator of "all manner of finery" for England's most prominent families. Yes, it's formulaic, far-fetched, and soppy with sentiment, but it's also a lot of fun, and Graeme-Evans (The Innocent) is unapologetic in her celebration of the joys of pretty clothes and the thrills of overcoming adversity.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“A lot of fun, and Graeme-Evans is unapologetic in her celebration of the joys of pretty clothes and the thrills of overcoming adversity.” --Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • File Size: 743 KB
  • Print Length: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (October 12, 2010)
  • Publication Date: October 12, 2010
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003UYUP0I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,620 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I'm passionate about history, particularly European history between, say, the end-ish of the first millennium up until the 1480's. I get bored with the advent of the Tudors (they invented the public service. Can't bring myself to love them for that!)

Landscape moves me - particularly unpeopled landscapes - but I also adore architecture though I tend to lose interest around the Baroque and come back in again, briefly, for Georgian Architecture, then again for the Arts and Crafts movement and the 1920's.

My idea of heaven is to drive around countryside that's unfamiliar to me in Spring or Autumn, through fields and little towns with no particular agenda in mind.

Interestingly the only time my husband, Andrew, and I fight is when one of us is trying to navigate the other in unfamiliar territory - but provided we can stop somewhere beautiful that night, eat something delicious and drink good wine, alls right with the world by morning.

Andrew likes to take pictures, I don't especially. When I'm thinking of a story, its often enough for me to stand and look at something. I try to fix what it feels like to my senses, what it smelt like, for instance; was there sun, was it raining, was it cold? And, that's often enough for the process to begin: the story process.

And whilst story and factual research is a delicious process for me, I'm convinced that human beings are much the same under the skin and always have been - though language, culture, circumstances and environment will always be different.

Family is very important to me. Both my nearest kin and then, also, the extended runners of the family vine that stretch back and forward through time.

Family has taught me that love is possible though it ain't always easy. I see myself as a buoyant pessimist: that helps. The pessimist in me always has a plan B, C and D (I hope!) if things go wrong - television production teaches you that as a failsafe; but the optimist bit makes me hopeful about the future. I've been a lucky woman and I'm deeply grateful for that.

If I have a credo it's one word. Persist. Rudyard Kipling's poem "IF" sums that up for me - each phrase hits like a hammer of truth. And, on the wall of my writing room is another piece of writing that never fails to move me, particularly when I'm feeling defeated or cast down. "Today I put on the sinews of the sky, Flames of the sun, Moon's glitter, fire's astonishment..." and so it goes on. To me, it's all about the acquisition of strength when you need it most.

Warm best wishes,


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By bengalpersian on July 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up on a whim when in the bookstore, intrigued by the subject and the setting. I love historical fiction, especially if it's accurate, my background is in costume design, and the back cover proclaimed it to be comparable to Philippa Gregory's novels. All right, I thought, I'll give it a try.

I read the whole thing, mostly because I rarely leave books unfinished, and also because I kept hoping that there would be a redeeming quality in there somewhere. After an uncomfortable day and a half, however, I closed the book on a serious disappointment.

First of all: the language. Most of the sentences are one to five words long, which seems to have been done on purpose in order to sound like spoken language, but it has the unfortunate effect of making the author and characters appear stupid, since they can't even muster up the intelligence to combine two sentence fragments together.

Each character speaks in exactly the same language; no one, no matter where he or she is from or what each character's past has been, deviates from the author's voice at all, except when a bit of nondescript French is thrown in. I really would have appreciated at least a nod to variations in ages--for instance, little Connie's language should be at least a little more immature than her mother's! That alone makes it a tedious read.

The commas after "And, she said..." and "But, it was..." are something the editor should have fixed, and they make the book annoying. They are scattered throughout and really got under my skin. And the tone of the language in general--oh, boy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Boytim on March 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ellen's life is happy until her 13th birthday. She lives with her parents, her father, a village minister and teacher, and her mother, disowned from her family when she married for love. When she is kissed by a wealthy family's son, a series of unpleasant events occurs, including the death of her father, their eviction from the home, forcing them to beg for a place to live from her mother's sister and her wealthy, but cruel husband. After several violent incidents, they seek refuge with the sister's dressmaker, where they work and Ellen's talents for drawing become apparent. After leaving for London to seek their fortune, Ellen falls into further peril due to the dressmaker's son and ends up married to him. She becomes pregnant, he leaves, and she must make her own way in the world. Through the first part of the novel, it reminds me of Tess of the D'Ubervilles, although the series of tragedies lessens over the course of the book. We see a young woman find her own path, partly through some lucky breaks, and make a future for herself and her child. When this life is threatened, Ellen must decide how to protect it. This was a decent historical fiction with some flaws, but also some redeeming qualities as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JerseyGirl Yvonne VINE VOICE on June 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Ellen Gowan wakes up on her 13th birthday and expects the sun to go down on a happy day. However, before the day is over, her father is dead, her mother is in a comatose state. Young Ellen is left with much to shoulder in her small English village. Even at the young age of thirteen, she manages to get together a funeral for her father, write letters to the archbishop about the death of her father and muddle on through the tragedy.

When Ellen's mother, Connie, finally comes out of her comatose state, they depart to the unhappy family of Ellen's aunt, where Ellen soon becomes fast friends with her cousin, Oriana. However, more unhappy times follow and Ellen and her mother are thrown out and must make their own way in London. Some happy times take place there but soon Ellen will be left alone and helpless once more at the age of 15. And so it goes.

Did I mention that this story is somewhat depressing? However, Ellen will rise above many other hardships to become a well established dressmaker to English aristrocracy. This book read like a Cinderella story or a fairy tale. Sometimes I thought that the style of writing was written for the young adult market.

The book is readable; it is not awful but just really overly dramatic and very, very predictable and actually a bit depressing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Melissa D. Roberts on January 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
Let me start by saying I truly enjoyed the first book in Posie Graeme-Evans trilogy. I have the other two books still to read, and I'm very glad I didn't read "The Dressmaker" first, or I never would have purchased the trilogy. I almost always finish the books I start, but in this case I could not. The dialog was stilted and though she does have some beautiful prose, the interaction, situations and outcome feel forced and unnatural.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elena M on December 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
I loved "The Innocent", "The Exiled", and the "Uncrowned Queen" so I was really excited about this book. I finished it today and even though it was nearly not as good as the trilogy, I still enjoyed it. It felt contrived, so almost from the beginning the story didn't feel very exciting or original. But I love period literature, and this author writes so well, so the descriptions of mid-century England, culture and people were fun to read. I can see myself re-reading "The Innocent" trilogy, but I don't think I'll re-read this one.
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