The Dressmaker is a debut novel of Australian author Rosalie Ham. The story takes place in a fictional Australian town. The writer managed to raise a lot of important questions: revenge, hate, love and haute culture.
Tilly Dunnage, the main character worked in Paris as a dressmaker at culture houses. Due to her vast experience in this field, she knows various fabrics like the back of her hand. That is why four sections of the book titled «Gingham», «Shantung», «Felt» and «Brocade», associated with different stages of her life.
She returns to home town in Australia, which she left in childhood to look after her ill mother. She was banished from the town after being accused of murdering her fellow student Stewart Pettyman. Women of Dungatar who keep up with fashion cannot resist the temptation to trot in exquisite dresses made by her. They are eager to buy her outfits, although they still treat her as an outcast and gossip behind her back. Sergeant Farrat, the policeman, liaises with Tilly, who gives him advice about dressmaking and fashion tendencies. Besides, Tilly has a thriving romantic relationship with Teddy, a promising footballer, whose family is almost equally reviled and struggles to make ends meet. He cherishes her and tries to protect her from the malevolent gossip of the close-minded townsfolk.
Women talk Tilly into making dresses for town dance. The last preparations are done and the party begins. Renowned dressmaker arrives in a luxurious gown but, to her surprise, she in not allowed to come in. Ted finds her in tears and tries to console her. Then she reveals the truth: she has been bullied and teased by all the children because of being a bastard child. Stewart Pettyman probably out of his hatred cornered her own day and almost choked her. She might have been severely injured but for her reaction. She managed to leap aside and the thrust went into the wall. Sergeant Farrat sent her away. she started a new life and devoted herself to dressmaking.
Tilly jumps into a wheat silo just for fun and tragically dIes. People blame her but nevertheless, her business is soaring up. People begin to die accidentally…it seems so. What will come to the surface if a disguise is put off?