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The Last Silk Dress Mass Market Paperback – October 4, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The theme of loyaltyto friends, family, country and one's beliefsare an involving integral part of this Civil War story. Susan, 14, of Richmond, helps the Southern cause by sewing and nursing the wounded, missing her father and trying not to rile her "half-mad" mother, who beats her and calls her a Yankee brat. In one exquisite scene, a troop of soldiers bound for the front pass by Susan's house and salute her for making their flag. After collecting silk dresses from ladies and prostitutes alike to be patched together for a reconnaissance balloon, Susan's view of the war changes; through her charismatic brother Lucien, she begins to see how slavery (and adultery) has undermined and all but destroyed her family. The setting of Rinaldi's rich story has been carefully researched; the writing has an irresistible pull. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

High-spirited, beautiful Susan Chilmark, fourteen, vows to do something meaningful to support the Confederacy during the Civil War. Despite the wishes of her mother, Susan and her best friend, Connie, collect silk dresses from all of the ladies of Richmond to make a balloon that will be used to spy on the Yankees.

But the issues behind the war aren't as obvious as Susan thinks. When she meets her dashing, scandalous older brother and discovers why he was banished from the family, Susan unlocks a Pandora's box of secrets that forces her to rethink and challenge the very system she was born into. Does she have the courage to do what is right even though it may hurt the ones she loves? --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (October 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440228611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440228615
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 3.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,175,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ANN RINALDI is an award-winning author best known for bringing history vividly to life. A self-made writer and newspaper columnist for twenty-one years, Ms. Rinaldi attributes her interest in history to her son, who enlisted her to take part in historical reenactments up and down the East Coast. She lives with her husband in central New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

It is really sad but one of the best books I have read in my life!
Sahar
When I read this book about Susan Chilmark I felt as though I was standing beside her and helping her collect silk and meet her brother and even kiss Timothy.
Christina Diaz (nikkidiaz@vineyard.net)
If you love historical Fiction like Me, You would love this book and all the books by her.
Velma_14@hotmail.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 1997
Format: Paperback
The Last Silk Dress is my favorite book by Ann Rinaldi, which is saying quite a lot since I've read all of her books and loved them all. Unlike Rinaldi's later books, the main character, Susan Chilmark, is entirely fictitious, but I think she is Rinaldi's strongest character to date. Susan is headstrong from the very beginning, but she undergrows a radical change as the book goes on. Although, Susan was never the stereotypically innocent (or conniving) southern belle, she gains a genuine perspective on where her life should be headed and what she, individually should be fighting for. Then she must make a decision in order to face the consequences of her earlier actions (and when Susan makes a decision, she pulls out all the stops.) Mix in an abusive mother, a brother who was kicked out of the house, and the Yankee artist who sneaks through the rebel lines and you are left with a remarkably fresh perspective on the Civil War. Read it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
First of all, I'll say that Susan is my favorite character Ann RInaldi has ever created. She has spunk, intelligence, and bravery, and she isn't like a lot of 19th century women who sat home sewing all day.
I loved this book and flew through it even though it was pretty long. This book, set in the Civil War-from the Southern point of view, is about a fourteen year old girl (that'd be Susan) and her disfunctional family. Her mom has a few screws loose and is really cruel, her older, dashing brother Lucien is the talk of the town because of the gambling house he owns, and her father has got some secrets of his own as well.
I loved this book because of its drama and fast pace. I recommend reading this book at least twice- it wa sbetter on the second time and I picked up clues that I'd missed before that unlocked some of the family's secrets.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Douglas C. Ryhn on February 2, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book when I was the same age as the heroine of this book, Susan, and I absolutely LOVED it!! I bought this book that it was just "another civil war story" but it turned out not to be like any other book I've read before, and certainly not like any other civil war book I've read. If someone told you the plot of "the last silk dress" you would at first think it was totally cliche, and it kind of is, but it still seperates itself from so many other books like it and that is what makes it truly great!! You learn so much about this book and it is at times very moving. Anyway, my advice is to read this book!!!! REally!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christina Diaz (nikkidiaz@vineyard.net) on October 13, 1999
Format: Turtleback
When I read this book about Susan Chilmark I felt as though I was standing beside her and helping her collect silk and meet her brother and even kiss Timothy. I was compelled to read more and was dragged into the story. The Last Silk Dress was the first book I had read by Ann Rinaldi. Since then I have read many others but none could compare to the first book I read. It got me interested in reading to the point where I devour every book I can get my hands on. I have recomended this book to all my friends and even my Grandmother and they have all loved it as much or nearly as much as I did.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am an avid reader with a wide range of interests. I first read this book when I was about 12 years old. I read it a couple more times as a teenager and just came across it again about 10 years later. When I re-opened the book as an adult, I was pulled in just as dramatically as I had been the last three times I read it. "The Last Silk Dress" is the only book I've ever read more than once. It is riveting; truly the best juvenile fiction I have found. The heroine is one for all ages, facing life struggles that can be translated to today's situations.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By 7th Grade Student on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Tug of War. It's a game where one team struggles with all its might to drag the other team to its side of the field. When two people begin to play "Tug of War" with your heart, a feeling of hopelessness surrounds you as your heart "stretches" between the two people before it snaps to one end. The power of The Last Silk Dress is so intense that Susan's thoughts seem to pull the reader in half as he/she wonders which way to turn. The Last Silk Dress provides an emotional story that will hold you within the binding of the book for hours to come. This historical fiction novel portrays the life of a fourteen-year-old girl named Susan, during the Civil War. It is filled with suspense that takes a turn down an unexpected path. Susan is a brave young Southerner, who feels that she must do something for the Cause in order to be accepted by her abusive, crazy mother. During the battles of war, Susan wonders, while confined in her home, about her long-lost brother, Lucien, who ran away from the family when she was so young. Under the most unusual circumstances, Susan meets up with her brother, who views the South as corrupt and evil. Susan is a daring young girl, who sets off on a mission to collect silk dresses so the South can make a hot air balloon to be used during war. Susan faces the loss of her father, a soldier who she had helped to heal, and her "second-brother," Kenneth, who all had to die for the South. Now, Susan isn't so sure the South has any purpose at all. Susan's dilemmas and losses bring so much emotion into the mind of the reader that there is no possible way to keep the tears from rolling down your face. This story is written with description that sends your mind into the past and puts you by the side of Susan Chilmark.Read more ›
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