Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dressmaker” as Want to Read:
The Dressmaker
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dressmaker

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  11,364 Ratings  ·  1,314 Reviews
After twenty years spent mastering the art of dressmaking at couture houses in Paris, Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage returns to the small Australian town she was banished from as a child. She plans only to check on her ailing mother and leave. But Tilly decides to stay, and though she is still an outcast, her lush, exquisite dresses prove irresistible to the prim women of Dungatar ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published August 11th 2015 by Penguin Books (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dressmaker, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ron "The Dressmaker" is Australian Gothic. What you are describing are standard Australian Gothic elements and archetypes. There are generic commonalities…more"The Dressmaker" is Australian Gothic. What you are describing are standard Australian Gothic elements and archetypes. There are generic commonalities between genre texts, that's why they call them "genres".

Thank you for the tip-off on "Siddon Rock". I have marked it as to read. I hope though that it's not one of those dragging family sagas that sometimes masquerade as Australian Gothic. You know, like "The Thorn Birds"...(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
A strange story indeed. Quirky characters in what appears to be a typical, very small, country town in Victoria. Tilly (Myrtle) has returned from The Big Wide World to take care of her mother, Mad Molly Dunnage. She arrives one night at the train station with her bags and Singer sewing machine, and the only character I liked, Sergeant Farrat, drives her home to the smelly house on The Hill by the tip.

Tilly was bullied at school as a bastard and is snubbed by everyone now. Mum is all she has. T
Dec 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to TL by: Random chance on, gift from my secret santa :)
2.5 stars

Loved the idea but not the execution... it was hard to keep track of all the characters sometimes and they weren't portrayed in a flattering way. An air of prejudice and bitterness hangs over alot of the town and it made me want to shake the people there.

The plot moved slowly but methodically... it had its interesting points but most of the time it was blah. I don't mind slow moving books most times but this one was painfully slow.

I did like Tilly but it was hard to understand her at t
Sep 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After twenty years, Tilly Dunnage returns to Dungatar, the small Australian town she grew up in, to visit her ill mother. Returning brings up memories of her unhappy childhood and the tragic accident which resulted in her leaving Dungatar as a child. Trained as a dressmaker at the couture houses of Paris, Tilly's beautiful gowns entice the prim and judgemental women of Dungatar and she becomes grudgingly accepted, until another accident causes the townspeople to turn on her.

The thing I disliked
What a delicious book! I loved the dark humour of this Australian novel. The characters in the small down of Dungatar are so awful that you just have to love them. I loved the writing, the links with fabric, fashion and sewing, and could picture it all in detail. I'm sure I read this with a permanent smile on my face and I didn't want it to end. Highly recommended.
The Dressmaker was undoubtedly the surprise of the year.

From the blurb:
A darkly satirical novel of love, revenge, and 1950s haute couture
Myrtle and Molly Dunnage were the outcasts in Dungatar, Australia. Paying for other people's sins were more like it, but the town did not find it difficult to make these two people the culprits of the town's many secrets, meanness and bigotry. Openly so. With no remorse of any kind.

Myrtle returns from Europe with her special dressmaking talents and turns the

When Tilly Dunnage returned after twenty years to Dungatar, the small Australian town she used to call home, she knew she would be shunned by the same people who had banished her as a child. She needed to check on the welfare of her mother, and then she would leave again. Tilly had been trained as a dressmaker in Paris; her skill was second to none – but that would mean nothing to the bitter and vengeful women of the town.

Tilly’s mother, Molly was in a dreadful state – demented and filthy,
peiman-mir5 rezakhani
دوستانِ گرانقدر، این داستانِ زیبا، در موردِ انتقام گرفتنِ زنی به نامِ <تیلی دانیچ>، از مردمِ پست و خاله زنک و دروغگویِ شهرِ کوچکی به نامِ دانگاتار میباشد... البته فکر نمیکنم این کتاب ترجمهٔ فارسی داشته باشد
تیلی دانیچ که در داستان هرزگاهی او را با نامِ <مرتل> نیز میشناسیم، دختربچه ای بی پدر بوده که همراه مادرش زندگی میکرده است.. مردمِ شهر مادرِ تیلی را که مالی نام دارد، خودفروش و کثیف میدانند، لذا بچه های مدرسه و حتی بیولا هاردین، معلمِ کثیف و روانیِ مدرسه، دخترک را اذیت میکنند و کتک
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
The premise of this book is good; however, the novel involves too many characters and too many plots. Really struggled to get into this book at the beginning but did get better. Look forward to the movie.
Amanda Mae
Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it
An interesting book for sure. I was initially intrigued about it when I learned Kate Winslet and a Hemsworth were going to be in the film adaptation. But I really hope the film changes some aspects of the story because when I got to a certain plot point I wanted to throw the book across the room I was so upset!

I love the idea of this awful little Australian town and all its oddball characters that Tilly returns to. But I struggled to follow all the characters and understand Tilly's motivations
Dec 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gothic readers
A gothic tale set in the Australian outback, the Dressmaker tells the story of Myrtle "Tilly" Dunnage on how she came back to her old town of Dungatar after being cast out and how she carried out her revenge on the people who wronged her and her mother.

For a short novel, this was a bit slow because of the descriptive writing style of Rosalie Ham. A lot of characters were involved in the story which made me lose track of the narration quite a few times but I got the hang of it as the storyline pr
♥ Jx PinkLady Reviews ♥

This book was chosen by a local book club I'm part of and had very mixed reviews from the group. Some really enjoyed, loving the quirkiness of the prose and the characters but some found the story a little dull. A complaint from a few was the plethora of additional characters, which I personally felt were almost part of the scenery adding layers to the feel of the storyboard. The third person narrative combined with the excessive amount of characters, at times, made the story lose focus for my p
Aug 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
what a hoot! what a period piece! it's a slice of 1950s country town Australia. which makes it a slice of pavlova. you'll slap the laminex table in mirth. you'll settle back with a shandy in the banana lounge and chuckle your way through it. the descriptions of the gowns are divine! particularly one number that the author assures us "flattered her fridge like form". the humour may be lost on the foreigners, so proceed with caution if you're not from the antipodes...
The cast was overwhelmingly large and, even having finished it, I'm still having a hard time getting everyone straight. Ms. Ham's attempt at memorable characters was a letdown and, instead, every person in this book was a complete caricature: there's the frumpy spinster, the highbrow mother-in-law, the crossdressing sheriff. By the end of the book, there's an odd veer into a town production of a Shakespeare play and a baffling moment when Tilly gets her revenge that left me scratching my head. W ...more
Linda Lawrance
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I love this book! It has so many things that I like about it, ie. it's an Australian story which beautifully evokes the central Victorian countryside in which it is set; it is a great yarn, it's imaginative, darkly funny, enthralling and just so darn satisfying; I highly recommend it to anyone whether you've seen the film or not. I read the book after seeing the film and am glad I did it in that order because inevitably changes must be made in bringing a book to the screen and while the fil ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really did not enjoy this novel.
I found the characters clichéd and one-dimensional; parodies of themselves.
The prose was cringe-worthy at times and unremarkable at others.
The references to 1950s Australian brands were nice for me as an Australian to recognise, but nothing more.
Rosalie Ham appears to me, an un-fashion aware person, to know her stuff when it comes to dresses and dressmaking. Unfortunately, this does not translate to an enjoyable book.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readathon-17
Η Τίλη επιστρέφει μετα απο χρόνια στη γενέτειρα της για να φροντίσει τη μητέρα της. Οι κάτοικοι του χωριού δεν βλέπουν την επιστροφή της με "καλό" μάτι. Όταν εκείνη ράβει το νυφικό της Γερτρουδης, οι κύριες του χωριού, αρχίζουν να ανηφορίζουν το λόφο, ζητώντας της να τους ανανεώσει τις γκαρνταρόμπες τους. Τα πρόσωπα του χωριού και οι ιστορίες τους ειναι ξεκαρδιστικές κάποιες φορές. Βέβαια, η κακιά και οι μικρότητες δεν λείπουν, όσο κι αν πασχίζει η Τίλη να τους δείξει την αξία της. Όσο σκληρά κι ...more
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: two-star
I admit it, I'm a sucker for a novel thats been noticed enough to be adapted into a movie. Most of the time I will read the book then see the film adaption to see where it differs. I decided to read The Dressmaker because I think Kate Winslet is a phenomenal actress; she usually picks very interesting roles to play hence why I thought this would be an ideal book to get my teeth sunk into. Unfortunately, it was an underwhelming experience.

Myrtle, now known as Tilly, has returned to her small home
May 24, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It is rare, but sometimes one comes across a book, read it and then think: I wish I'd just watched the film.

This might be one of the worst books I've actually finished reading. And I finished reading it because it is relatively short and I wanted to see if at any point it would get any better. It didn't.

It was very chaotic. Both in plot and in style. The style seemed to vary within paragraphs and sometimes I got confused at the order of the narrative, it seemed totally illogical at places. It al
I had to stop in the middle of this, partly because the story was unpleasant but mostly because it was confusing. Ham had too many characters, too many time lines, and too much insanity going on in the plot.

Tilly, raised an outcast and abused by everyone, comes home to her Australian outback town, a successful dressmaker. Her mother, the town whore, has gone so crazy you wonder why no one's locked the old bat up in an asylum. Anything would be better than the filth she's living in now. Tilly daz
Jayne  Downes
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book. I loved the dark humour and the descriptions of the mean spirited people of the small town. Beautifully written.
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
This is a reread of this book for me as I had read it in 2000 when it first came out. After seeing the movie recently I realised that aside from a few details I couldn't remember anything about the book. I don't often feel this way but I think in this instance I enjoyed the movie more than I did the book. It may not have helped that I was probably influenced by the movie and kept picturing the actors who played the characters, whilst reading which is not always a good thing. I did enjoy Ham's wr ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Travellers crossing the wheat-yellow plains to Dungatar would first notice a dark blot shimmering at the edge of the flatness.’

Myrtle ‘Tilly’ Dunnage returns to Dungatar (a fictional small Australian town) after an absence of twenty years. Nothing much seems to have changed in the town – Tilly and her mother ‘Mad Molly’ are regarded as outcasts – but her mother is ill and Tilly stays to care for her. During her absence, Tilly trained as an expert dressmaker in Paris, and the garments she makes
Mar 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορία αλλά με αρκετά προβλήματα..Για αρχή, υπάρχουν πολλά ονόματα και χαρακτήρες που δύσκολα συγκρατείς. Η Ham στην προσπάθειά της να τονίσει την μικροπρέπεια και το κουτσομπολιό μιας μικρής επαρχιακής κοινωνίας,κάνει σχεδόν όλα τα πρόσωπα αντιπαθή έως αποκρουστικά. Αυτό με ενόχλησε πιο πολύ απ'όλα.Επίσης κάποιες φορές αγγίζει τα όρια του μελό.
Το τέλος αποδομεί,κατα την γνώμη μου,όλη την ανωτερότητα της Τίλη.
Στα θετικά έχω να πω ότι η ανάγνωση κυλάει αβίαστα και κάποιες από τις ατ
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfektní. Sice mi prvních pár stránek trvalo než jsem se začetla, ale potom to nabralo takovou energii a šmrc, že nešlo přestat. Na každou svini se vaří voda-skvěle vykreslené přisloví v celém příběhu. Určitě doporučuji, pecka! :-)
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
I didn't know what to make of this book at first. There was some slapstick falling face down in cream spunge kind of humour and then suddenly people were breathtakingly nasty. Just when you thought you knew where the story was going there was an unexpected turn. And then, bliss, sweet revenge.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
Twenty years ago, following a tragic incident, Tilly Dunnage was sent away from Dungatar the small rural Australian village where she grew up. She spent the time wisely learning the art of couture dressmaking. Now, on the heels of another tragedy, she has returned home only to find that most things have not changed; the townsfolk still hate her, her mother has seemingly slipped further into senility and they are still considered the outcasts. But the one thing that is different? Tilly now has a ...more
Tamra Staiger
Feb 05, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tried-to-read
I tried this book . . .I wanted to like it . . . but couldn't. WAY to many characters to follow . . . I felt like I needed to write them down and create some sort of diagram to follow to keep track of them. So many pointless references to body parts . . . I have never read so many references to scrotums and erect nipples . . . seriously seemed to have no point to the storyline . . . but granted I made it 1/3 of the way through the book and still hadn't found a plot. After reading a completely po ...more
Nina {ᴡᴏʀᴅs ᴀɴᴅ ᴡᴀᴛᴇʀ}
You know, I didn't give this a favourably rating, but it's not because I didn't like it. It's rather, at the time when I read it, even though I read it as an English [not lit, but compulsory yr 11 reading list subject] book, I was a little disappointed. I suppose at the time I was still learning to separate two classes of books and further broaden my reading list. It was the year after I started really delving into YA too, so my mind was a little muddled about what I liked and didn't like about ...more
Judy Collins
Loved the movie, as well! The Dressmaker Kate Winslet was captivating, as always.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Bound Together: ~~ JULY MOVIE ~~ The Dressmaker 13 24 3 hours, 15 min ago  
Play Book Tag: The Dressmaker - Rosalie Ham - four stars 9 19 May 11, 2017 02:24PM  
Random YA Literature: The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham 1 7 Dec 10, 2016 02:54AM  
Contemporary YA: The Dressmaker 2 10 Oct 02, 2016 06:12PM  
Screen & Page: The Dressmaker 1 3 Oct 01, 2016 02:57PM  
Around the Year i...: The Dressmaker, by Rosalie Ham 1 17 Jul 13, 2016 12:30PM  
La Stamberga dei ...: Dal libro al film: The Dressmaker 1 16 Jul 02, 2016 10:25AM  
  • Carpentaria
  • Grand Days
  • Come in Spinner
  • For Love Alone
  • Journey to the Stone Country
  • The Fine Colour of Rust
  • It's Raining in Mango
  • Tall Man: The Death of Doomadgee
  • The Monkey's Mask
  • That Deadman Dance
  • Reckoning: A Memoir
  • The Golden Age
  • Wake in Fright
  • The World Beneath
  • Fortunes of Richard Mahony
  • Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living
  • Riders in the Chariot
  • The Life
Rosalie Ham was born, and raised in Jerilderie, NSW, Australia. She completed her secondary education at St Margaret's School, Berwick in 1972. After travelling and working at a variety of jobs (including aged care) for most of her twenties, Rosalie completed a Bachelor of Education majoring in Drama and Literature (Deakin University, 1989), and achieved a Master of Arts, Creative Writing (RMIT, M ...more
More about Rosalie Ham

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Darkness There: Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe [Kindle in Motion]
    $1.99 $0.99
  • An Empty Cup
    $3.99 $1.99
  • I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Underground River
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Word Game
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fraulein M.
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Sister of Mine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Bury What We Cannot Take
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Chomp
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Searching for Grace Kelly
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Bricking It
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Great Episodes)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Starfish
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Thunder and Rain
    $9.99 $2.99
  • All Grown Up
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Light of Hidden Flowers
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Olive's Ocean
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Ecstasy
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Elephant Keeper's Daughter
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Virtues of Oxygen
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Home to Harmony (Harmony #1)
    $11.14 $1.99
  • Dog Crazy
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Towers of Tuscany
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Who We Were Before
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Reluctant Midwife (Hope River, #2)
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Sin No More (Reverend Curtis Black)
    $10.39 $1.99
  • The List
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Lost & Found
    $5.74 $1.99
  • A Watershed Year
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Savage
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Designer
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Novice: A Story of True Love
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Go Away Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Leaving of Things
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Train I Ride
    $6.99 $1.99
  • We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Hidden Flower
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Greyhound
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances
    $9.99 $1.99
  • This Burns My Heart
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Journeys of Socrates
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Annie on My Mind
    $9.99 $1.20
  • An Absent Mind
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Book of Ruth
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Smoke
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Covenant
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Digging In
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
    $11.99 $12.99
  • The Traveling Vampire Show
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Going Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Girl in the Glass
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Super Sad True Love Story
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Prayers and Lies
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Go the F**k to Sleep
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Just a Couple of Days
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Boleyn Inheritance (The Tudor Court, #3)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Daughter of Union County
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Fighting Ground
    $6.49 $1.99
  • The Sugar Men
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Last Storyteller: A Novel Of Ireland
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Vengeance Road
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Every Note Played
    $11.99 $3.99
  • Asymmetry
    $13.99 $3.99
  • The Rules of Magic
    $11.99 $4.99
  • Mrs. Fletcher
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go
    $11.99 $3.99
  • Ungifted
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Stiltsville: A Novel
    $10.99 $1.99
  • To the Bright Edge of the World
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Patriots
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Flicker of Old Dreams
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All the Good Parts
    $3.99 $1.99
  • At Risk
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Food of Love
    $3.99 $1.99
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow
    $11.99 $2.99
  • A Scattered Life
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Every Ugly Word
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Desert God (Ancient Egypt, #5)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • An Amish Buggy Ride
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Old Yeller
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Elizabeth Street
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Gates of Rome (Emperor, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
    $4.99 $1.99
  • It Is Well
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A Sinful Calling (Reverend Curtis Black #13)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • On a Cold Dark Sea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • My Lady Viper (Tales from the Tudor Court #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Edward Adrift
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $1.99
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Pain will no longer be our curse, Molly” 2 likes
“Mona,” 2 likes
More quotes…