1930: Seventeen-year-old Iris Mitchell dreams of designing clothes, but there’s little spare cash for fashion in their shanty-town home. The gift of a single purple ribbon from would-be boyfriend John Tucker, however, creates an unexpected opportunity… and when Iris’s brother Jim joins the Sydney Harbour Bridge construction, the large, dirt-poor but loving Mitchell family can move to the city. Iris will be torn away from John, but he’s Protestant and she’s Catholic, taboo in their world, so perhaps it wasn’t meant to be…
1932: By day, Iris scrubs the floors at Caron’s, an upmarket department store. By night, she designs and sews in her family’s tiny, crowded house. Friendship with gorgeous, livewire Natasha, one of Caron’s models, allows Iris to show her skills, but will her talent be acknowledged… or exploited?
When John reappears, passions are reignited, and Iris must face not only their religious divide but the apparent impossibility of having both marriage and a career. Meanwhile, the Mitchells must navigate life in a city riven by corruption, dirty politics and gambling. Will their faith, determination and deep family bond save them when tragedy and adversity strike? In 1930s Sydney, the stakes have never been higher…
Mary-Anne O’Connor is a bestselling Australian novelist who delivers rich, sweeping works of historical fiction. Her novels In a Great Southern Land, Gallipoli Street and Worth Fighting have all made their way onto our previous Top 100 lists, while her last novel, Sisters of Freedom, delighted BR readers with its passionate tale of three sisters following their hearts to unexpected places.
Now she returns with her latest novel, Dressed by Iris, a captivating story set in Sydney during the 1930s Great Depression. Through meticulous research and vivid prose, O’Connor brings 1930s Sydney to life, examining both the glamour of the fashion industry as well as the seedy underbelly and corruption that exists beneath the city’s surface.
The novel predominately follows Iris, a talented young woman who dreams of designing her way from rags to riches. Iris is a strong, ambitious protagonist who is determined to risk all to pursue her passion, including her heart. Surrounding Iris is a fabulous cast of characters, including her romantic interest, John Tucker, who makes for a charismatic and charming lead. Then there’s the rest of the Mitchell clan, a motley bunch of lovable misfits who stand by each other, no matter what.
Richly imagined and splendidly told, Dressed by Iris is a feel-good story about love, family and following your dreams. Fans of Natasha Lester and Victoria Purman will adore this.