The Dressmaker’s Secret (Picador 2020) is a sequel to the best-selling novel The Dressmaker, by Rosalie Ham, which was also made into a successful film. Both books are written with a quirky small-town quality, peopled by eccentric characters and fuelled by a twisting plot. I absolutely loved The Dressmaker and this follow-up book is a satisfying resolution to the narrative arcs of some of the best-loved characters in the first book.
Tilly Dunnage returns to her home town in 1953, two years after leaving it in flames (which, spoiler alert, may possibly have been her fault). Now a famous and sought-after dressmaker, Tilly is remaining enigmatically aloof from her cohort, who are all besotted by the upcoming coronation of the new queen, which means a season of society fashion and balls, with designs by Dior, Valentino and Balenciaga. Tilly is hiding a secret, and her new-found fame threatens to destroy her carefully cultivated anonymity.
Absurd, blackly funny, poignant and surprising, this novel is a must-read for Tilly Dunnage fans. While it is perhaps not as pitch perfect (or as well-stitched!) as its predecessor, it is still a classic, dark and engrossing tale of revenge, high fashion and small-town secrets.