Review: ‘The Dress’ by Kate Kerrigan

The Dress

OK, let’s just get this out of the way: the cover should make you want to read it. The cover was designed by Lou Brennan who is a professional fashion illustrator and, boy, does it draw you in! Looking at this sumptuous work of art, how could you not want to open the cover and devour the story inside?

And the story is as enthralling as the illustration on the front cover. Lily Fitzpatrick loves vintage clothes and the stories behind the outfits. She finds the fact that women have owned and loved pieces before her exciting. Thousands of people follow her blog and Instagram feed daily. However, Lily’s love of dresses hides a passion that she left behind several years ago: designing. But when Lily stumbles upon a gorgeous dress worn in the 1950s by a woman that shares her surname. With that, Lily sets out to recreate the dress.

The readers get to discover the story of the dress with Lily as well as the wearer, Joy, and the designer, Honor.

This story is not the vacuous yarn many may expect it to be. ‘The Dress’ tackles many serious issues including alcoholism and betrayal. It interweaves the story of three women in a similar vein to ‘The Hours’ by Michael Cunningham. It spans time and space, travelling from 1930s Ireland to 1950s New York to modern-day London. Kerrigan’s descriptions are beautiful; when Lily visited Miami, I felt like I was there with her thanks to the vivid explanations.

The story is, however, easy to follow and would make the perfect holiday read.

The relationships portrayed in this terrific novel are complex and believable. Whether it’s Joy’s relationship with her husband, the rich and successful businessman, Frank Fitzpatrick or Lily’s friendship with her best friend – Kerrigan doesn’t sugar coat a thing and that’s really refreshing. The characters jump off the page, they’re so realistic. I’d also like to commend Kerrigan for her compassionate portrayal of an alcoholic and for making this a story of, ultimately, redemption.

I urge you to read this book.

Vic x


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