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Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize: This psychological drama set in Liverpool during WWII follows the courtship of a US soldier and an English working-class girl.
Rita is a passive and naïve seventeen-year-old who has been raised by two middle-aged aunts: Nellie, a curmudgeonly dressmaker obsessed with polishing the furniture, and Margo, a lively widow wise to the ways of the world. Rita’s father, whom she calls Uncle Jack, is too busy with his butcher shop the next town over to pay much attention to his daughter. Regardless, surrounded by the ruins of houses bombed in the Blitz, this strange family is bound together as they face wartime life in Liverpool. The government is enforcing stringent rations on even the smallest pleasures, and an influx of well-off American soldiers is wooing all the local girls.
Though World War II has dramatically changed the family’s standard of living and altered their perspective of the world, Nellie is determined to enforce her traditional ideas about the proper behavior and priorities of the lower middle class. This includes hampering the romantic desires of both Rita and Margo.
It is no wonder, then, that Rita starts lying to her aunts about where she goes on Saturday nights. She has fallen in love with a Yankee GI named Ira. Or rather, she has fallen in love with the idea of this young soldier and all that he represents as someone who can make her a bride and whisk her away to a lavish life in the United States. But Ira is hardly the man she’s dreamed of, and a relationship is the last thing on his mind.
In a sinister turn of events, the years of stifled happiness finally catch up to Margo and she betrays her young niece. And through this transgression, Nellie reveals just how far she will go to enforce her rules, especially when it comes to the furniture . . .
Written in strategically-doled-out prose that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, The Dressmaker is a thrilling historical novel about repressed sexuality, sibling rivalry, and the dire consequences of bigotry. An immediate classic in British fiction, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and made into a film starring Jane Horrocks, Billie Whitelaw, and Joan Plowright.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Beryl Bainbridge including rare images from the author’s estate.
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