Sunday, 13 March 2022

Book Review: Dressed by Iris by Mary-Anne O'Connor

 Dressed by Iris
Mary-Anne O'Connor

From sheer poverty to high glamour, a story of courage and all-conquering love
Publisher: Harlequin Australia

Imprint: HQ Fiction
Publication date: 2nd February 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 480
RRP: $ 29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback  
Source: courtesy of the publisher
My review
Dressed by Iris is a powerful novel with themes of hope, pride, optimism and rising above adversity. 
In a Great Southern Land is one of my all time favourite novels so I was expecting big things from Mary-Anne O'Connor and I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed.
Iris lives with her family in the shanty towns of Newcastle. It's 1930 and Australia is on the verge of The Great Depression. The family get by on the mother Agnes' frugalness and the bit of money they get from the father Bob's panning.
The Catholics and the Protestants had a great divide and when Iris falls for local boy John, who is a Protestant, she knows their relationship can never be. However she lives on dreams and hope that one day they can be together.
When a job offer on the Sydney Harbour Bridge comes up for Iris's father and brother, the family of eight move to Sydney.
Through this one struggling family Mary-Anne O'Connor has delivered an emotional story highlighting the plight of renters, the high unemployment, anti-eviction riots and political unrest of the time.
Amidst a backdrop of poverty Iris discovers she has a flair for fashion design and with her family's help and encouragement she enters the fashion industry, although her path is beset with prejudice and setbacks.
I love stories where women push the boundaries for their time. These are the women that helped change attitudes and laws, giving women the right to choose how to live the life.
Mary-Anne O'Connor uses real situations from her grandparents' tales which makes this story all the more endearing. Many of the scenes brought back memories of my own grandparents' stories.
Dressed by Iris is an inspiring and moving story rich in memorable characters who will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Mary-Anne O'Connor has a combined arts education degree with specialties in environment, music and literature. She worked in marketing and lecturing and co-wrote/edited A Brush With Light and Secrets of the Brush with artist Kevin Best, her late father.
Mary-Anne lives in a house overlooking her beloved bushland in northern Sydney with her husband Anthony, their two sons Jimmy and Jack, and their very spoilt dog Saxon. This is her seventh major novel.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great historical fiction based on true stories. Always good to discover strong females. Great review.