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on the power of showing up

note: I wrote this post in April of 2019 (pre-COVID). It's been sitting in my drafts for quite a while, but I think it's time for it to see the light of day. It's been helpful for me to reread over the past few months, especially as I continue to try to make an effort to write, and I hope it can be helpful to you, too. i got an invite to a writers' group a few months ago, and i had never felt like more of a fraud in my life. it had been months, if not years, since i'd felt like a writer. the proverbial well of words in my heart had dried up, it seemed, and i wasn't sure if it was ever coming back. i agreed to go out of a sense of helplessness—i'd identified as a writer ever since i could remember. if i'm not a writer, who am i?  i told myself that it was important to show up and act like a writer even when i didn't feel like one, because even though i hadn't been writing, i reassured myself, i still was a writer. but sometimes the words f

Book Review: The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

Joy is beautiful, but she has a secret terror. Although she is the toast of 1950s New York society, with everything money can buy, she is afraid that one day her beauty will fade and she will lose the love of her glamorous husband.
Honor is a young Irish seamstress, who has been working her fingers to the bone with little reward, but her luck is about to change. For her 30th birthday, Joy commissions Honor to create the most dazzling dress ever seen.
Lily has always loved vintage clothes. Thousands follow her fashion blog. One day she stumbles upon an article about a legendary evening dress, created in the 1950s, but now lost to history. She knows that she must find out more.
What Lily uncovers is a story of glamour, friendship and love betrayed. The story of two women, one ruthless man – and a dress so sublime that nothing in couture would ever match it again.

From the very start, The Dress is a book richly steeped in detail, glamour, and family history. The plot lines are woven together so intricately (not unlike the titular Dress) that it's quite simply a pleasure to read this book. I was quickly drawn into the story of Lily, Joy, and Honor--whose stories connect in ways you might not expect. Joy and Honor's stories are set in the past, and Lily's is set in the present. All three of them are connected by... well... The Dress, and it's so interesting to see how the story fits together.

At first, I wasn't sure how the story would connect, especially when the story began with a preacher and a little boy in Ireland. But the way things progressed, as well as the payoff of the beginning scene, was really stunning to me. I found it fascinating, dazzling, and even gritty at times. I couldn't put this book down.

What you can expect:

  • Flawed yet realistic characters. No one in this book is perfect, and they deal with a lot of heavy stuff. Instead of black and white, these characters are definitely gray. At times, the glamorous backdrop of the 1950s combined with the tragic stories of the characters reminded me a bit of The Great Gatsby (though this ended a bit happier than Gatsby, thanks goodness).
  • Beauty. The Dress described in this book is simply stunning, and the way it's written about and described is awe-inspiring. 
  • Complex relationships. This book isn't just about fashion. At its core, it's about relationships--family, friends, and even our worst enemies. This book is full of relationships both heartwarming and backstabby alike. (What? Backstabby is totally a word. At least it should be.) The drama in this book wasn't cheap, and it was enough to fuel my brain into thinking about this book for days.
If you're looking for a super fascinating story with a touch of fashion, I'd say pick up The Dress. This intricate novel won't disappoint.

About the Author: Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels are Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, The Miracle of Grace, Ellis Island, City of Hope, Land of Dreams and The Lost Garden. Kate began her career as an editor and journalist, editing many of Britain’s most successful young women’s magazines before returning to her native Ireland in the 1990’s to edit Irish Tatler. She writes a weekly column in the Irish Mail about her life in Killala, County Mayo – and contributes regularly to RTE's radio's Sunday Miscellany. Her novel, The Dress, published by Head of Zeus was shortlisted at the Irish Book Awards in 2015, and her new novel, It Was Only Ever You, was published in hardback edition, October 2016. 

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book.


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