The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

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The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: an enjoyable story about a dress made in the hope of saving a marriage but which was to prove disastrous for so many people.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Head of Zeus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1784082383

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In 1935 a young man left his cruel father, stealing from his kindly schoolteacher to fund his trip to Dublin. Years later he left for New York. He'd never dreamed of being rich, but hard work brought wealth his way. He'd never thought about a wife either, but it seemed the right thing to do and Frank Fitzpatrick married Joy. She may well have been the most beautiful woman in New York, but she adored Frank. He was, well, ambivalent about her. For her thirtieth birthday Joy decided that she was going to throw a party at the Waldorf and for this she required the most stunning dress ever made. The Dress. She hoped that it would bring Frank back to her.

In London, in 2014, Lily Fitzpatrick was making a name for herself as a fashion blogger, but her heart was in design. She chanced upon the story of The Dress made for Joy Fitzpatrick back in 1959 and, intrigued by the fact of the same surnames, determined that she was going to recreate The Dress. It seemed that everything was going by the wayside - relationships, even friendships weren't properly looked after and she even sold some of her beloved vintage clothes to fund the project.

The character who carried this book for me was Joy Fitzpatrick: in love with a man who really didn't care for or about her. He wasn't deliberately cruel: he simply wasn't in love, but he would discover what it was like when the tables were turned on him. Joy genuinely believed that this brilliant dress - which incorporated her family jewels, her inheritance - would make Frank fall in love with her all over again. She failed to realise that what Frank was looking for was a wife who depended on him, who cooked for him and gave him the family he craved. It was easy to see why Joy turned to alcohol for relief. Not that she was an alcoholic, of course. I was less convinced by Honor Conlon, the Irish seamstress-turned-fashion-designer who created The Dress, who didn't turn out in a way that might have been predicted early in the book.

It's a great story with a neat mix of fifties New York and modern London and there's plenty of insider gen on the fashion industry which rings true because of Kate Kerrigan's background as a fashion journalist. I was less happy with the relationships in the story: there didn't seem to that frison which makes you suspect that there might be something going on there. That's me being picky though - I'm just an old romantic at heart.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

It a story based on a garment appeals to you then you might enjoy The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby - that's the famous one worn by Jackie Kennedy.

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Buy The Dress by Kate Kerrigan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dress by Kate Kerrigan at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Dress by Kate Kerrigan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dress by Kate Kerrigan at


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