Title: Dressing the Dearloves
Author: Kelly Doust
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 20th August 2018
Format Read: paperback
Source: Publisher via Beauty & Lace book club
Failed fashion designer Sylvie Dearlove is coming home to England - broke, ashamed and in disgrace - only to be told her parents are finally selling their once-grand, now crumbling country house, Bledesford, the ancestral home of the Dearlove family for countless generations.
Sylvie has spent her whole life trying to escape being a Dearlove, and the pressure of belonging to a family of such headstrong, charismatic and successful women. Beset by self-doubt, she starts helping her parents prepare Bledesford for sale, when she finds in a forgotten attic a thrilling cache of old steamer trunks and tea chests full of elaborate dresses and accessories acquired from across the globe by five generations of fashionable Dearlove women. Sifting through the past, she also stumbles across a secret which has been hidden - in plain sight - for decades, a secret that will change the way she thinks about herself, her family, and her future.
Romantic, warm, and glamorous, moving from Edwardian England to the London Blitz to present day London, Dressing the Dearloves is a story of corrosiveness of family secrets, the insecurities that can sabotage our best efforts, and the seductive power of dressing up.
Kelly Doust has had much involvement in fashion and publishing so to write a fictional novel with fashion at its core seems like a natural progression.
Dressing the Dearloves is a rich multi-generational story that moves effortlessly from present-day to the late 1920’s through to the early 1940’s spanning five generations of Dearloves.
Sylvie Dearlove returns home to England, her life in New York in ruins. Her fashion label has crashed and she has been declared bankrupt. Haunted by failure and wracked by guilt she runs to the only place she feels safe, the family’s estate Bledesford, only to find it in rack and ruin her parents barely able to afford the upkeep. Doust highlights the dire straits some families found themselves in trying to keep up with mounting expenses on these rambling estates and the work of the National Trust in helping owners open their homes to the public for viewing, tea rooms and weddings.
The Dearlove women are all strong, outspoken women. They are all very arty and clothing and fashion is a passion passed down through the generations. All the beautiful gowns and day wear have been stored in the attic from the 1920’s through to the 1960’s. I loved how the items of clothing were tied to memorable moments in the Dearlove women’s lives and Doust seamlessly moved from an unearthed fashion piece to the relevant time and story concerning that piece.
Dressing the Dearloves is an engaging story of love and war and doing what’s expected in times where skeletons were pushed firmly to the back of the closet only to be released with a lot of poking and questions asked.
The story evolved with the unique addition of internet search items, newspaper excerpts and diary entries. I particularly liked the for sale advertisement for Bledesford which described the estate beautifully.
I was captivated by this story from beginning to end and my mind was reeling as the secrets just kept coming and coming.
My rating 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
*This review is part of the Beauty & Lace Book Club. You can read the original review here
Dressing the Dearloves is book #28 in the Australian Women Writers challenge
and part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie Author Challenge
|Photo courtesy of Goodreads|
Since 2009, Kelly Doust has published five non-fiction books about craft and fashion: THE CRAFTY MINX, THE CRAFTY KID, A LIFE IN FROCKS: A MEMOIR, MINXY VINTAGE (all Murdoch Books) THE CRAFTY MINX AT HOME (HarperCollins). She has a background in book publishing and publicity, and has worked in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia and freelanced for magazines such as Vogue, Australian Women’s Weekly and Sunday Life Magazine. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and daughter.
You can connect with the author at the following sites: