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

Wearing Paper Dresses

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  69 reviews
You can talk about living in the Mallee. And you can talk about a Mallee tree. And you can talk about the Mallee itself: a land and a place full of red sand and short stubby trees. Silent skies. The undulating scorch of summer plains. Quiet, on the surface of things.

But Elise wasn't from the Mallee, and she knew nothing of its ways.

Discover the world of a small homestead
Published September 24th 2019 by Macmillan Australia
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 Wearing Paper Dresses, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wearing Paper Dresses

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  306 ratings  ·  69 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Wearing Paper Dresses
Just gonna pat myself on the back for finishing this one because it was a FKN DRAINER.

Please note: I see a lot of merit in this book. I can see people absolutely falling in love with it and raving non-stop. So please consider how different everyone's tastes are while you read the forthcoming rant on how much this book bored me to tears.

So. Here we go.

The blurb: City girl Elise marries country boy Bill and they end up moving back to (The) Mallee to help with Pa on the family farm. Elise
Bill and Elise and their two daughters, Ruby and Marjorie lived happily in Melbourne in the 1950s – until Bill’s mother passed away and left his father on his own on the farm in the Mallee. He tried, Pa did, but finally he called Bill to return to the farm to help out. The family made the long journey and while the two girls and Bill settled in reasonably well, Elise struggled. She had no idea of the food to feed the shearers when they arrived; she had no idea what food to take when asked to “ ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

4.5 stars

Wearing Paper Dresses is the debut novel by Anne Brinsden, and this novel has already been earmarked as an Australian classic. Brinsden’s writing has been compared to Colleen McCullough, Rosalie Ham and Elena Ferrante. These are big shoes to fill, but I feel that Anne Brinsden has made her very own special mark on the publishing world with her first novel. Wearing Paper Dresses is an emotional tribute to family and the land. Above all else, it is an
Veronica ⭐️
Wearing Paper Dresses is a beautifully written, heartbreaking story of mental illness and a family struggling to keep their head above water in the harsh Australian Mallee region.

The drought is in full force and son Bill is sent to the city to earn money to help support his parents back on the farm. He meets city girl Elise, refined and beautiful.

“Bill was from the Mallee, which meant he didn’t muck around either. He asked Elise to marry him – even though she was a non-catholic. And out of his
Natalie M
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My discovery for 2019, new Australian author Amy Brinsden.

I started the novel after discovering a few fantastic reviews on Good Reads and I am so glad I did (thank you GR for always providing inspiration).

Brinsden’s writing develops as the novel progresses, from straightforward storytelling to multilayered and multifaceted magical story weaving. Her glossary will help those unfamiliar with terms and phrases but a fantastic depiction of the Australian identity is created in this novel. And don’t
Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, aww
Awesome! You MUST read this book !!!!!

My View:
This is by far one of the stand out reads of 2019 and deservedly will find a place on my “Best of 2019 “reads.

This book evokes country Australia, small town, impoverished, drought struck Australia. It is all hard angles and tough decisions. It is mesmerising. It is relatable. It is real. It is mental health issues in an accessible relatable format. It is life. It is love. It is family.

Read it. You MUST.
Jodie- Readthewriteact
This book certainly was off to a slow start but I am glad that I stuck with it. The first third for me had me skim reading because honestly not much happened, really not a terrible lot happened in the whole book despite how many years it covered. It's a strange book that's more character centric but at the same time there are still a lot about the characters I don't feel I know. Marjorie and Jesse are maybe the only two characters I think that were fully developed. Elise isn't easy to understand ...more
Pan Macmillan Australia
This is a debut novel from an Australian writer who has a great future if this book is anything to go by. Anne grew up in the north Victorian Mallee near Mildura and the harshness and isolation of farming life out there oozes out of every page. Set in the 1950’s, we see the toll this takes on a city girl with two young children who is taken there by her husband to help his ageing, misogynistic father save the family’s wheat and sheep farm. Seen through the eyes of the two girls as they grow up, ...more
Hayley (meet_me_at_the_library)
Anne Brinsden’s debut novel is being hailed as an Australian classic, and I can see why! With its beautiful prose and vivid imagery, Wearing Paper Dresses really brings the Mallee region of Australia to life.

It’s a heartbreaking portrayal of the effects of mental health issues on families and communities, and the harsh realities of farming in an inhospitable landscape. I found it quite a difficult read in places but the characters really endear themselves to the reader and you can’t help but be
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden.
As soon as I saw the beautiful cover of this book I knew it would be a beautiful story.

This is a book about living in the middle of The Mallee. It’s unforgiving droughts, mental illness, hard times and coping with extreme situations.

Elise is a city girl through and through so when she meets and falls in love with country boy Bill it surprises their families.
After Bill and Elise marry, Bill is called
Thanks to Beauty and Lace Bookclub and MacMillan Australia for a copy of this book.

This was a difficult read for me. I struggled with the narration style of the novel, it did nothing to draw me in and took a good 90 pages for me to get used to the style of narration and the ‘being told a story’ rather than feeling part of the story.

The prose was lyrical and at times it had some profound things to say such as “Because Marjorie saw that some people are chipped and damaged, cracked and frayed,
Lesley Moseley
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 6-stars

UPDATE 6th Feb, 2020 : On my FB feed : Anne Brinsden Author
28 January at 12:16 ·
Shortlisted for the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction 2020

For a book to have so many parallels to my own life, capture the essence of marginal area farming, and make me hold my breath for the last few pages, can only be awarded a fully deserved 5 stars.

For a debut novel, I am astounded at the competence, both of the author, but also the whole production team. Well done, can't wait for the next one.

Most exciting
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For a book that I was skim reading a lot for the first 1/3 or so and neatly put aside as a DNF, I cannot believe I have rated this 5 stars at the end!
But there was a turning point for me and after that I didn’t want to let the characters go. I cannot tell you how many times I had a tight chest and tears in my eyes. Loved it.
Katie Clews
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written story essentially about mental illness... I loved Marjorie and Ruby and how they navigated their way living on the land with an absent mother who suffered multiple mental breakdowns..
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, publishers
Actual rating: 4.5/5
Anna Loder
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I cannot believe the blurb on the back. I am so glad I didn’t read it until the end. I absolutely LOVED the cover. I had it picked as a completely different coming of age story. It took me ages to get into, but once I was I wondered why. For me it’s such an original style of story. I thought the way living with someone with mental illness was told was so poignantly. I loved the setting and the way the land was absolutely a main character. I loved the exploration of the sense of belonging vs ...more
Brittney Gibbon
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“There are some things in life that are more than anybody’s best. No matter how hard a person might try, some things in life are going to find a way to get the better of us.”

Wearing Paper Dresses is an emotionally charged, atmospheric tale that I implore every single one of you to read. I devoured this book in one devastating, full-of-ugly-crying sitting, and I honestly just cannot rave about it enough.

Brinsden so effortlessly transports her reader to the dusty, stubborn outback of the Mallee;
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads, arcs
When trying to think of words to some up Wearing Paper Dresses, I think of just two. One being wow, the other being beautiful.

Set in the Australian Outback in Victoria in the 1950’s, Elise, a city girl, along with her country husband and two children return to his home of Mallee. You see Elise trying to fight the stigma of a country town, and the stigma of what a housewife should be in the 1950’s.

Marjorie and Ruby are free spirited and run wild, while struggling to understand and come to terms
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars - a wonderful debut novel. From the authentic characters to the descriptions of the harsh landscape. Loved it!
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Such a good book! First time author...congratulations!
Loved the wording. Strong characters with a heartbreaking story.
Especially since I’m on holiday in Australia now, the book just drew me in.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love love love!
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it

Wearing Paper Dresses is a poetically written with a heartbreakingly sad story, surrounding battles with mental illness for one struggling family located in the harsh Australian Mallee region. Despite the seriousness of the topic and consequences, the author ensures to provide glimmers of hope to the reader and the connections of the ‘paper dresses’ is both artful and inspired.

‘The two girls gawked at the delicate papery creation floating on its humble wire hanger. ‘It’s beautiful,’
Jessica M
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it

Wearing Paper Dresses is a debut literary novel from Australian author Anne Brinsden, set in rural Mallee in the 1950s, which explores notions of family, land, mental illness and responsibility.

Glamorous, sophisticated, talented Elise leaves the city and moves with her two children and her husband to her father-in-law’s wheat and sheep farm in Mallee. The townsfolk are instantly suspicious of her and her ‘city’ ways. She drinks coffee and not tea and she doesn’t
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
You know how sometimes you pick up a book in the middle of the frenzy that is day to day life, and it quietly tells you to sit down, stop rushing around and just enjoy the story? This was that book for me. Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden is the story of Elise and Bill and their two girls, Ruby and Marjorie, who one day are forced to relocate from the city to return to Bill’s childhood home, a homestead in the Mallee, on the sunburnt plains of northern Victoria. It is the 1950s, and Elise, ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Guys how gorgeous is that cover!? I mean, I can't even... I absolutely love every tiny detail and could stare at it all day long. It's a total stunner in it's design, layout, and colours. It's perfect!

'Wearing Paper Dresses' by Anne Brinsden screams heartbreak. It made me cry so much, I still can't get over it.
The author's writing style is very compelling and the emotions in this book seriously got to me. You can feel all the pain this family is going through, it just killed me. There might not
Emily Maree
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars.

This story follows two sisters and their parents. Unfortunately for them, their time living in the city is cut short, when their Father has to move them all back to the red, dusty outback of the Mallee. However, living in Mallee causes their mother to have nervous breakdowns and makes her mental health spiral out of control. We follow along the story from the daughter Marjorie's point of view and we get to see how she has to deal with having a mother who isn't stable and how her and
Tracy Mackay
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Pan Macmillan and Compulsive Reader website for my copy.

I loved this book and it's one of the best I've read this year.
For a debut book it's very good and my only gripe is that the ending was a little bit of a let down.
The description of the mallee, the weather and characters is spot on. I felt like I was in that harsh place and it could be quite atmospheric at times. I got pulled into the story early in the book and found it hard to put down.
I loved most of the characters and the
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This book had some beautiful imagery and a compelling plot, it certainly brings the mallee to life. However, an over use of personification and the extensively repeated descriptions of events that were similar made it drag a little. I think a little more editing and paring back would have pushed this to four stars. It’s a solid first novel and I particularly liked the way Elise’s psychosis was described as a glitter around her.
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wearing Paper Dresses is an Australian drama, which twists reality with insanity.
It is incredibly well-done, and will pull you right into the lives of Marjorie, her sister Ruby, and their mother "crazy Elise."
The story takes place in rural Australia, and fills you with nostalgia of childhood and terms you'd forgotten that you used to use.
There are the timeless concerns of living off the land - will the rain come? Will the crops be enough this year? - mixed in with good old-fashioned scones and
Amy Herbert
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Anne Brinsden has crafted a stunning debut novel in "Wearing Paper Dresses". This is the story of a family, and a town, and a place called the Mallee and how they all cope with one woman's glittering disappearance into herself.
Marjorie knows her mother isn't like other mothers and watching her unfold under the weight of the Mallee's harsh conditions shapes her as surely as the land itself. Then a tragic event has her running for the softness of the city. It will take the boy she loves to call
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Silver
  • The Weekend
  • Bruny
  • The Model Wife
  • There Was Still Love
  • The Lost Summers of Driftwood
  • The Best Kind of Beautiful
  • Just One Wish
  • Khaki Town
  • The Wife and the Widow
  • Wolfe Island
  • Peace
  • Taking Tom Murray Home
  • You Don't Know Me
  • The Last Paradise
  • The Diamond Hunter
  • The Yield
  • The Girl in the Painting
See similar books…
As far back as Anne can remember she has loved stories. Mostly, she would read them. But if there were no stories to read, she would make up her own. She lives in the western suburbs of Melbourne now with a couple of nice humans, an unbalanced but mostly nice cat and a family of magpies. But she lived all of her childhood in the Mallee in northern Victoria before heading for the city and a career ...more