☼♄Jülie 's Reviews > The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
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bookshelves: aussie-author, historical-fiction, cultural-australia, own-book, romance, women-s-fiction, contemporary-fiction, 2015-release
Recommended to ☼♄Jülie  by: Self
Read 2 times. Last read April 9, 2016 to April 23, 2016.


The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

I'm not sure what to make of this book?? I listened to the audio version twice in succession in order to get a better feel for it, which I think may have helped save it for me because Rachel Griffiths does an amazing job at narration.
She totally owns it from the beginning and had me captivated by her reading style, she convincingly portrays a vivid picture of the story with a voice that perfectly matches the tempo and mood, even managing to convey nuance with often delightful perfection....the sound of a steam train arriving or departing made me smile.

I laughed out loud often at some of the sayings and gasped in shock in equal measure, at the same time feeling empathy and.... confusion??

This is a story about a group of people in a small country town who are all hiding secrets and self doubt, their collective angst seems to pervade the very atmosphere of the tiny hamlet which they live in and can almost be felt by the reader.
There are so many vivid characters with starring roles that I often found it difficult to keep track of who is who.

After an absence of twenty years Tilly has returned home to stay with her [now demented] mother in the old house she grew up in. Her possessions are few and fit in one small bag. Notably, in her other hand she carries her sewing machine, the importance of which plays a big part and soon becomes apparent.

To my mind, this is a book that seems to be at odds with itself.
At first gently flowing and captivating, and quite amusing with its satirical asides, (which now and then border on dark humour) and at turns deeply disturbing.
Just as you are warming to a particular chapter, it suddenly jumps into a scene part which is shockingly crude by contrast...not just because of its overtly graphic descriptions of the activity described...but more for the fact that it wasn't expected. It somehow seemed out of perspective, and out of proportion to the otherwise casual flow of the narrative.

There is no doubt in my mind that Rosalie Ham can write, because her writing here is imaginative and beautifully observed in that it so captures every quirk of human nature that her complex cast of characters portray so vividly...
But I didn't really like it...though I did and I didn't, few of the characters were likable in any way, and I suppose that is testament to the author's ability to portray them so well....so that must be a plus.
I don't think I'm a prude, but I didn't like the graphically detailed descriptions of certain scenes, which given the author's talent for description, could have been just as effectively referenced without the vivid detail. I thought it excessively detailed and added nothing to the story other than to make me cringe and want to erase it from my head.

I will certainly look for more books by this author out of curiosity, and I will definitely look for books narrated by the very talented Rachel Griffiths.
3.5★s
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 8, 2015 – Shelved
October 8, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
October 8, 2015 – Shelved as: aussie-author
October 8, 2015 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
October 8, 2015 – Shelved as: cultural-australia
December 26, 2015 – Shelved as: own-book
December 26, 2015 – Shelved as: romance
December 26, 2015 – Shelved as: women-s-fiction
December 26, 2015 – Shelved as: contemporary-fiction
December 26, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015-release
April 9, 2016 – Started Reading
April 10, 2016 –
20.0% "Really good so far and quite a few lol moments. Rachel Griffiths absolutely owns this story, such a lovely natural voice."
April 12, 2016 –
37.0%
April 15, 2016 –
65.0% "Ooh I wasn't expecting those bits :o"
April 19, 2016 –
80.0% "good story!"
April 22, 2016 –
100.0% "good story, great delivery...."
April 23, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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☼♄Jülie  Listening to this on audio, beautifully flawless narration by Rachel Griffiths.


message 2: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne You listened twice Jules?! You certainly gave it a go. I can just imagine Rachel Griffiths being an amazing narrator, that's for sure. Great review.


message 3: by ☼♄Jülie  (last edited Apr 22, 2016 08:29PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

☼♄Jülie  Suzanne wrote: "You listened twice Jules?! You certainly gave it a go. I can just imagine Rachel Griffiths being an amazing narrator, that's for sure. Great review."

I did Suz! Because although I was torn, I wanted to make sure I hadn't missed anything...or "lost the plot" so to speak ;) and the narration was just spot on, really made it worth listening to. If you get time have a listen to a sample of her reading :)


message 4: by Suzanne (last edited Apr 22, 2016 08:34PM) (new)

Suzanne I will listen to a sample. I noticed your status update - and I can agree with your comment about her being a 'natural' voice without even listening :)

She was great! Very soothing. I've not listened to many Aussie narrators. Irish are my favourite I think.


message 5: by Sharon (new) - added it

Sharon Robards I've never listened to an audio book. Do you guys listen to many?


message 6: by ☼♄Jülie  (last edited Apr 22, 2016 11:33PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

☼♄Jülie  Sharon wrote: "I've never listened to an audio book. Do you guys listen to many?"

I love to listen when I'm cooking, gardening...especially hosing :) or even when doing the housework, that can almost become a pleasant pastime and goes quickly :D
Also when walking or on the treadmill (lol not as often as would like) and in waiting rooms when you just know it will be a long wait....travelling on trains or alone in the car.
I also love to listen while I do jigsaw puzzles or colouring, both favourite winter pastimes :D

......Oh and in the bath! mostly meditation CD's then but sometimes a book...also a winter pastime.


message 7: by Sharon (new) - added it

Sharon Robards I can imagine listening in the bath but I imagine I would want to rewind it at moments, so it would need to be a battery operated thingy... ah how do you listen to them - in a CD player. Gee, now I sound stupid .... I can't help wondering if the rating would be different if you had of read the physical book ... I guess there is no way to know that mmm


☼♄Jülie  Sharon wrote: "I can imagine listening in the bath but I imagine I would want to rewind it at moments, so it would need to be a battery operated thingy... ah how do you listen to them - in a CD player. Gee, now I..."

I use bluetooth with my ipad which can play sound or I can use speakers for better quality sound, or I use bluetooth headphones so no wires and I can walk around...its also quiet for others...they have controls on one ear piece. Alternatively if I am out and about, I have my ipod with earbuds that have controls on the cord.

I listened to a library copy but I do have the book version here Sharon, sometimes it's more convenient to listen where possible. If I thought it would have made a difference I would have switched to give it a fair go, but the narration was so good in this case that I actually think it helped.
It wasn't the actual writing style that was off putting but some of the content, which wouldn't have changed either way.
I still plan on seeing the movie and I might yet read the book version, I have done that with a few books before :)


☼♄Jülie  I meant to mention that most of my audio books are downloaded, either from the library or other, eg; online from Sync etc. So they can all be played remotely through bluetooth or wifi.


message 10: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Sharon, I use library cd's only for the car, and only for the daily commute when I'm on my own. I hate wasting possible 'reading' time! My way is very archaic!


message 11: by Sharon (new) - added it

Sharon Robards Very interesting... next time at the library I might try to find one :)


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