Sunday, 1 November 2020

Book Review: The Dressmaker's Secret by Rosalie Ham (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: The Dressmaker's Secret
Author: Rosalie Ham
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: 27 October 2020
Pages:
384
Format:
Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: ARC from Publisher

It is 1953 and Melbourne society is looking forward to coronation season, the grand balls and celebrations for the young queen-to-be. Tilly Dunnage is, however, working for a pittance in a second-rate Collins Street salon. Her talents go unappreciated, and the madame is a bully and a cheat, but Tilly has a past she is desperate to escape and good reason to prefer anonymity.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Farrat and the McSwiney clan have been searching for their resident dressmaker ever since she left Dungatar in flames. And they aren't the only ones. The inhabitants of the town are still out for revenge (or at least someone to foot the bill for the new high street). So when Tilly's name starts to feature in the fashion pages, the jig is up. Along with Tilly's hopes of keeping her secrets hidden...

 

The Dressmaker's Secret was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I requested a review copy having enjoyed the first book and loved the movie adaptation; however, this sequel failed to capture me in quite the same way. The quirkiness I'd appreciated in The Dressmaker felt too forced and overdone here. I was reasonably engaged in the scenes focusing on Tilly and Sergeant Farrat (the sergeant remains my favourite character, so I was glad to see him get more page time), but the action taking place back in Dungatar didn't hold my interest, and I found myself skim-reading through those chapters. On the plus side, the prose is well written and there are plenty of humorous moments to bring a smile to your face. If you finished The Dressmaker desperately wondering how things would turn out for Tilly, then you will probably have fun reading this sequel. To my mind, though, it is one of those times where the author would have done better to leave it at one excellent book, rather than force out a sequel that doesn't quite live up to its predecessor. To reiterate, this is in no way a 'bad' book; it simply isn't at the same level as The Dressmaker. For that reason, I am giving it three stars.

I received this book as a free ARC from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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