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Toulouse Women's International Group


Next Reading Group Meeting

Venue: Fran Walker’s house in Cornebarrieu

Date: Monday 2nd October 2017

Time: 2pm

Contact: Karen Burroughs or Joyce Booth

Details: The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding

Reading Group Review – ‘The Dressmaker’ – Elizabeth Birkeland Oberbeck

TWIG Reading Group September 2017

The original recommended book for summer was ‘The Dressmaker’ by Elizabeth Birkeland Oberbeck. It soon became apparent that there are numerous books bearing that title. It was decided as a summer exercise to read up to five of the books with this title.
They were: ‘The Dressmaker ‘Rosalie Ham; ‘The Dressmaker of Dachau ‘-Mary Chamberlain; ‘The Dressmaker ‘- Kate Alcott ; ‘The Dressmaker’ – Elizabeth Birkeland Oberbeck and ‘The Dressmaker ‘- Beryl Bainbridge.
Only two people present managed to read all five.
Rosalie Ham-The Dressmaker returns to the Australian outback after a successful career working in Parisian fashion houses. Soon she has the women of the town queuing up for her transforming skills. This was possibly supposed to be black comedy. Non of us present found it funny. Too many forgettable characters and ridiculous story line.
Mary Chamberlain-badly written story of an English woman abandoned by her lover in Belgium when the Nazis arrive. She ends up in Dachau making clothes for the commandants’ family. Facts about the work camp at Dachau interesting. Implausible story line.
Kate Alcott – Again from an historical point of view fairly interesting, about the sinking of The Titanic. However terrible sugary prose with a storyline that just gets more ridiculous as the book continues.
Elizabeth Birkeland Oberbeck – This Dressmaker is a man. Running his business outside Paris selling to rich Parisians. Falls in love with a young customer who comes in to order a wedding dress. Dialogue irritating, storyline thin, characterization poor. Set in the wrong century for the theme and characters depicted.
Beryl Bainbridge – Very unfair to include Beryl Bainbridge in the above list. Not enjoyed by all, considered dark and bleak, which it is, but universally accepted as well written.