Your Preview Verdict: The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater

Your Preview Verdict: The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater

Two women separated by centuries but connected by one beautiful silk dress. A captivating novel based on a real-life shipwreck discovered off Texel Island by the bestselling author of Gulliver’s Wife, Lauren Chater.

Jo Baaker, a textiles historian and Dutch ex-pat is drawn back to the island where she was born to investigate the provenance of a 17th century silk dress. Retrieved by local divers from a sunken shipwreck, the dress offers tantalising clues about the way people lived and died during Holland’s famous Golden Age.

Jo’s research leads her to Anna Tesseltje, a poor Amsterdam laundress turned ladies’ companion who served the enigmatic artist Catharina van Shurman. The two women were said to share a powerful bond, so why did Anna abandon Catharina at the height of her misfortune?

Jo is convinced the truth lies hidden between the folds of this extraordinary dress. But as she delves deeper into Anna’s history, troubling details about her own past begin to emerge.

On the small Dutch island of Texel where fortunes are lost and secrets lie buried for centuries, Jo will finally discover the truth about herself and the woman who wore the Winter Dress.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

This was my first book read from Lauren Chater and it will definitely not be my last. It was so beautifully written with incredible detail, I was swept away the moment I started reading. Inspired by historical facts, the transition from past to present was impeccable. Highly recommended for any lovers of great literature. Katrina, QLD, 5 Stars

I was so taken with this book! When I first read the back, I thought it would be a bit mehh. A textiles historian?! But I found it gripping from the start! It’s a historical fiction novel that deals with love, grief, loss, relationships and strength. A young woman travels from Australia, back to her island home where the shipwreck is located, to restore the dress, but finds a story even more delicate and breathtaking than the silk between her fingers. It’s about a shipwreck (that’s actually real) and tells the story of two women who lived in different centuries but are connected by a beautiful silk dress found in the wreck. Would definitely recommend it! Viktoria, WA, 5 Stars

Very enjoyable, I kept reading to see the link between Jo’s modern narrative and Anna’s historical story. The characters are well written and rounded, I had a real sense of them being with me. The story moved along at a good pace. Kerrie, NSW, 5 Stars

The Winter Dress was an enjoyable read. The connection between a gorgeous garment and the story that weaved from the fine threads of the dress was full of intrigue, love and loss and characters who were joined centuries apart from a fine garment. Well worth the read. Corrine, WA, 5 Stars

An amazing fiction book based on a true shipwreck! It screams “make me into a movie like Titanic”. I loved it, I was captivated from early on, it’s an easy pace, you get to love the characters and you’re transported to the 17th century, go get it, it’s a great read, one of the best so far this year in my opinion. Thank you BR! Louise, NSW, 5 Stars

Engaging from the very beginning. Loved the history and the sheer amount of knowledge that Lauren Chater was able to bring into the story. The characters were likeable and the story didn’t dwell on any one character for too long. Loved it. Riley, VIC, 5 Stars

Books like this are my favourite kind of historical fiction: take one aspect of a real-life event – in this case the miraculous underwater discovery of a hundreds-year old dress – and bring it to fictional life by weaving a compelling story around it. That’s exactly what Lauren Chater has done with THE WINTER DRESS. The dual timeline storytelling switches between the modern day and the 1650s, with a dress connecting our two protagonists, Jo Baaker, a textiles historian and, Anna Tesseltje, a young woman who loses her family and her standing in society. Hundreds of years separate them but the themes of fortitude, independence and the empowerment of women in both their stories is strong. I found Jo’s story to be eminently relatable. Her return to her island hometown not only gave her a unique opportunity to interact with such an important artifact, but it became a journey of self discovery. The Dutch Golden Age is a time in history that fascinates me, so I found myself devouring Anna’s story. Chater has done a great deal of research and it shines through in this book. The detail supports the story, and never bogs it down. I wanted more! Highly recommended. Merilin, NSW, 5 Stars

The Winter Dress is a tale of secrets and betrayal, friendship and healing spun expertly by one of Australia’s best historical fiction authors. Jo Baaker, a textile historian in the modern day, is drawn back to the isolated island of her childhood, Texel in Holland, by the promise and mystery of an exquisite silk dress uncovered from a historic shipwreck by her long-time friend. Fascinated by the dress and the secrets it holds, Jo sets out to discover all she can about its original owner. In 1651, Anna Tessletje has lost the lavish lifestyle of her early years and fallen on hard times, taking on the gruelling work of a washerwoman. The chance to become a companion to enigmatic artist Catharina van Shurman promises to lift her out of drudgery – but at what cost? Lauren Chater expertly stitches together a dual-timeline narrative, richly embroidered with detail that recreates mid-17th Century Holland as vibrantly as the contemporary thread. Cocooned within the folds of a carefully plotted narrative, the reader is taken on a captivating journey across time through love and loss, and the choices we make in order to endure. Lisa, SA, 5 Stars

What I enjoyed the most about the book is the language. It is both like an ocean and like a smooth fabric: smooth, flowing, rocking gently, immersing, and shimmering. The Winter Dress is a truly immersing and engrossing story of 2 women separated by time and water but joined by the haunting beauty of one silk dress. It is a memory of better life and a promise of a bright future for one and is a mystery and unexpected connection to her past for another. Lauren Chater has done an amazing job weaving a story that needs to be kept and shared. There is so much love for life, ocean, textiles, home, and family that the readers can not but feel it and fall in love with all those things too… Five stars from me. Svetlana, VIC, 5 Stars

What’s an emotional book you have read lately? By the time I finished reading The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater I was a mess. Who would have thought I would cry over a historical dress?! Two women from over 400 years apart are connected to the dress, known as the winter dress. Found deep in the ocean floor of an old real life ship-wreck off the Texel Island, a discovery of a dress is found along with other items, it’s up to Jo to find whom the dress belongs to and what happened to them so long ago. I love how through Jo’s perspective in the modern day you get the small details of the dots jointing whereas in Anna’s perspective you are able to link the dots yourself. About halfway through the book it really picks up and you are eager to find out what happened to Anna all those years ago and how she wound up on that sunken ship she was on. Now while the dress is a real life discovery, the characters in the story are purely fictional. Reading this book really inspired me to look up The Winter Dress and who had worn the dress. The likeable characters in this historical novel both modern and past, really tug at your heart giving you that warm fuzzy feeling, you want what’s best for them, and every hurdle they face you just want to tell them that it’s going to be okay, even though you know it’s probably not. If you have yet to add this remarkable unique book to your TBR what are you waiting for. 💜 Thank you to the well wonderful teams at Better Reading and Simon and Schuster for a BRPreview copy and congratulations to Lauren Chater on reading a beautiful yet sad book. Cassie, NSW, 5 Stars

‘The Winter Dress’ is a wonderful read. It is well researched and a fascinating insight into Holland in the mid 1600’s. It is easy to follow the linked but separate stories of Jo and Anna. I enjoyed learning about art, clothing, academia, diving and many other subjects detailed in the book. ‘The Winter Dress’ is rich in detail and nuance. I highly recommend it. Sandra, ACT, 5 Stars

Chater has become renowned for the intricate weaving of historical facts into her fiction writing, and The Winter Dress, her latest novel, does not disappoint. With the idea coming from a real-life dress discovered in a wreck off North Holland’s coast, we are invited into the fictional lives of Jo Baaker in 2019 and Anna Tesseltje in 1651. Both sets of parents have died, and Anna’s sister as well, and they must learn to live life without them. Obstacles arise for both women; for Jo in her work a textiles historian and for Anna as a lady’s companion. Exploring loss and grief, friendship and love, in both women’s stories; the somewhat complicated world of academia in Jo’s; and the unexpected happiness Anna finds with her new employers, this is a fascinating story connecting Anna and Jo across the centuries through a silk dress. The writing is detailed but not superfluous – every word has earnt its place on the page making it a thoroughly enjoyable read. Sueanne, QLD, 5 Stars

I loved this book! I was captivated by the interweaving stories of two women, both afflicted by misfortune, both trying to find their own path in the world. One story is of Jo, living in present day Australia, until a diving discovery by a friend sends her back home to the island of Texel in the Netherlands, to research the mystery of a 17th century silk dress. The other woman is Anna Tesseltje, the past owner of the dress, bereft of family and destitute; who assumes the role of female companion to eccentric artist Catharina van Shurman. The mystery of what happened to Anna is gradually revealed, through episodes recounted by the author, and by the evidence gathered by Jo in her historical research. We gradually discover how the lives of the two women are linked and changed by the exquisite dress. Chater’s story is based on the true discovery by Dutch divers of a 17th century dress buried beneath the sea, but from there she creates a fascinating story drawing on thorough research of the period blended with an imagined story of the dress. I loved how she created the resonance between the stories of the women, both past and present, and their shared striving to assert themselves in a world dominated by men. Helen, SA, 5 Stars

The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater is a great read. It is an intriguing and spellbinding piece of historical fiction. Dual timelines of 2019 and 1652 are used to emphasise the connection between the two lead characters and the mysterious golden silk dress. It was interesting that the author based this story on the 2014 discovery of a 17th century silk dress off the coast of Holland. The characters are well drawn as is the sense of place, which for most of the story is The Netherlands. The Winter Dress is a beautifully written story of power, love, grief and loss. I would love to see it made into a movie. Janelle, NSW, 5 Stars

The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater is beautifully told and an enjoyable read. A fascinating story based on a silk dress that is recovered from a real life shipwreck off the Texel coast. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy. A really good read. Al, VIC, 5 Stars

Thank you Better Reading for giving me the opportunity to read this book, it is not something I would usually read, but I did thoroughly enjoy it. Who would have thought that a story with a dress as the centrepiece would be so captivating, so much history from one dress. This historical fiction follows a dual storyline tracing the history of the dress and its owners after being discovered in a shipwreck of a voyage that took place more than 300 years earlier. We have the current day historian and expert Jo trying to piece together the timeline of the dress in an endeavour to determine the original ownership and journey of the dress. The story is told with detail, compassion and enthusiasm. The characters are strong and believable, all adding to the compelling narrative. This is a story of strong resourceful women making their way in the world. Lauren Chater does a first class job of adding to the story little by little as Jo’s research takes her closer and closer to tracing the history of dress, it’s original owner and her life. Grahame, NSW, 5 Stars

I loved this book, the back and forward between the past and present and how unbelievable it is that an item survives the centuries and is relevant even in modern times an interesting and compelling read. Leanne, SA, 5 Stars

The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater is a tale of hidden pasts and how not all is what it seems. Dr Jo Baaker has her own tragic past, orphaned by indifferent parents but the discovery of the dress returns her to her childhood home of Texel. Anna Tessetje’s life is bookended by shipwrecks in Texel and is herself orphaned at a young age. Anna’s dress is the source of change and magic in both Anna and Jo’s lives and teaches both to open their minds and hearts to different possibilities. Lauren Chater weaves facts and history in effortlessly – from the research techniques used by Jo and counterpart researchers to determine age and origins of the dress – to the methods Anna uses to wash clothing as a laundromat or assist in preparing canvases for artist Catharina van Schurman. The reader absorbs it without feeling like they are reading a historical text. It is a beautiful read and I loved Jo and Anna’s stories – the ending is not what you might expect at the start but all loose threads are tied up in a satisfying ending. After finishing The Winter Dress, I’m now desperate to read more of Lauren Chater’s work. Sara, NSW, 5 Stars

If you are interested in historical fiction this is a fabulously researched book which is inspired by the discovery of a real 17th Century dress found off the Dutch coastline in 2014. The reader is taken on a journey from Sydney to the Island of Texel, a wildlife sanctuary for seals and birds that has a such a strong sense of culture and history it makes you want to google and find out more. Lauren has brought us into the life of three women from different backgrounds and era’s whilst interwoven their stories like the threads of the dress. As we discover the truths of Anna, Catherina and Jo through the clues past items hold, we discover the importance of heritage, family and friendship. I loved the main character of Jo a strong intelligent woman, who has an extra ordinary role as an historian investigating the culture and ways of the past which then reveals truths of her own loss. I can imagine a connection between Jo and the author through their similar roles and skills needed to investigate, research and finally create a narrative to achieve success in their fields. Well done, I loved it. Tara, WA, 5 Stars

I had no particular expectations when I started reading this book. I was pleasantly surprised that this novel was based on a true story and I tried to place myself back there in the past. An intriguing story- a must read for fans of historical fiction. Amanda, TAS, 5 Stars

More than 300 years separate these two women, Jo Baaker, 2019, a textile historian and Anna Tessletje, 1651, washer woman/ companion, by the appearance of the beautiful silk dress that has been discovered by divers on the wreck of a ship. Jo was originally from the small island of Texel, Holland till the age 16, when her parents drowned and was bought to Australia by her aunt to live. The dress was found by her former childhood friends who are all divers. Jo was the first person they thought of when they saw the dress. Jo is determined to find out who the dress belonged to and how it managed to survive so long in the water. Anna’s life changed too when her parents die and leave her and her sister to fend for themselves. By this, they sell off everything they own but Anna will not sell the last thing that reminds her of her mother, the beautiful silk dress. This is a beautiful story and I loved both characters, each for their own ways of life. From tragedy to a better life. #BRPreview #TheWinterDress #LaurenChater @GoodreadsAU Sue, NSW, 5 Stars

After reading Lauren Chater’s Gulliver’s Wife I was excited to preview The Winter Dress. Lauren did not disappoint. The story moves between two different times and two different women and draws the reader into the lives of the women, and the times they live, with the common thread of a beautiful silk dress. The story moves quickly whilst giving the reader a real sense of being involved as it unfolds. As a lover of historical fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed The Winter Dress. Susanne, NSW, 5 Stars

If you are in awe with The Lace Weaver and Gulliver’s Wife like me, then you certainly need to bump this book into your front queue. 2019, Jo Baaker, a textile historian received a phone call from herlong lost friend, Bram. When Bram and his team were diving, they managed to retrieve a sealed chest from a sunken shipwreck which content a beautiful gold silk dress and couple other items. Follow the journey of Jo digging the original owner of this dress and how their life was like. 👗⛵🥽 This book will also take you to Amsterdam in period 1651 and meet Anna Tesseltje. After her sister passed away, Anna works as lady’s companion for an artist Catharina Van Shurman in a beautiful property in Sterenwijck. Catharina’s twin brother hires Anna after a sudden departure of her previous apprenticeship, Magriet. There’s a close relationship between Catharina and Magriet, which makes Catharina drawn into deep sadness. Will Anna be able to help restore the good spirit of Catharina? Vivi, NSW, 5 Stars

An interesting blend of stories both with a common link – a beautiful dress that draws te reader into the story This story will take you to a place you may have never been before – the Netherlands and what life was like in the 1600s the attention to detail was great and made you feel like you are there and living the story. a great read for those who love history. Bernadette, NSW, 4 Stars

Lauren Chater does a wonderful job once again of weaving a small snippet of history into a rich story full of interesting characters and an amazing amount of detail. I always enjoy a good dual timeline novel and these two timelines, 300 years apart are woven together well. I always love learning about history and the people who lived in those times and the 1600s are a time I knew very little about, I can only imagine the research that went into this novel, just as it was interesting how Jo went about delving into the past to uncover the past of the dress. Another great read by this author. Claire, WA, 4 Stars

An intriguing story of a lovely silk dress that is discovered in a 17th century shipwreck off the small Dutch island of Texel. The story alternates between Anna, the young woman whose dress it is.Her story starts in 1651 .Her father and sister are dead and she has fallen on tough times .She becomes the companion of Catharina, an artist from a wealthy family. Jo, a textile historian is contacted by her old friend Bram(one of the divers who found the dress and other artefacts) on Texel. Jo is originally from Texel but moved to Australia to live with her aunt after both her parents tragically died when she was a teenager. While Jo researches into the background history of the dress she is also on a personal journey into her own past. I found the story unique and very interesting in the way that history can be traced from very old cloth and really enjoyed the way Anna’s 17th century story comes together with Jo’s in modern times. Karin, VIC, 4 Stars

“The Winter Dress” by Lauren Chater is a beautifully written, very well researched novel. The book is told from multiple perspectives in two different times; a first person perspective for Jo Baaker, a textiles historian in 2019 and a third person perspective following Anna, a laundress with an opportunity to become a lady’s companion from 1651. Often with books featuring multiple timelines and perspectives, there may be a certain storyline that you are more keen to follow. This is not the case in The Winter Dress. Both storylines are just as strong as each other. You can tell Lauren Chater took the time to research this novel and craft a story full of hardship and tests for her two strong female main characters. My only complaint is that there are two chapters in the middle of the book that are almost 120 pages combined. I am a reader that is drawn to shorter chapters so I put the book aside when I knew these long chapters were coming. I regretted it. If you are like me, do not let long chapters stop you picking this book up. Make sure to check Trigger Warnings for the novel too. The novel opens on a scene that some will find troubling, but with the warnings this book is very enjoyable. Perfect for fans of Paullina Simon. Jaclyn, WA, 4 Stars

The winter dress, a tale woven between the 17th century and current times will undoubtedly leave you wanting more. Jo a textile historian goes back to her childhood home Texel to help solve the mystery of a 17th century dress lost in a long ago shipwreck. Both Jo and Anna born centuries apart rise above the challenges they face to survive the best they can. The compelling tale of Anna and Catherina will last long after finishing the last page. Deanne, VIC, 4 Stars

In the beginning I struggle over a few strange words which for me stopped the flow of the book. Other than that I enjoyed the story and would recommend it to my friends. Great ending it didn’t disappoint. Cecily, QLD, 4 Stars

As someone who usually hates historical fiction and dual narratives, I enjoyed this book! I loved reading Anna’s story in Amsterdam and also loved reading Jo’s story. I loved Jo’s passion and excitement while also feeling such empathy for Anna’s forced choices. The book is written so beautifully that it was so easy to imagine both worlds. I loved going on the journey of discovering the owner of the dress and loved being on the journey filled with love, joy and discovery. Rochelle, VIC, 4 Stars

Written as a dual narrative, The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater explores the lives of Jo Baaker, a textiles historian with a troubling past and Anna, the owner of the exquisite winter dress which is found by divers in a sunken shipwreck. Chater expertly weaves the narrative between the two women, unfolding a narrative that is told through the discovery of the dress and the unveiling of its secrets. The novel provides detailed insight into the 17th century and is an engaging read. Each step in the story leaves you wanting to know more about both Jo and Anna. Beautifully written, the vivid imagery depicts a clear picture of the lives of both women and the time periods they are living in. A fantastic read for lovers of historical fiction and those with an interest in textiles. Jessica, QLD, 4 Stars

Thank you to Better Reading for allowing me to preview this book. This is a novel inspired by real life events that was very well written and researched. It is one of love, loss, grief, work, family and friendship. I think it can be tricky when writing about the past and present and bringing together these timelines but on this occasion I found the author did this effortlessly and brilliantly. My only critique is that I felt it took a while to get going but in the middle and end of the novel it thoroughly engrossed me and I was taken on a very interesting and heartfelt journey. I found similarities in the characters of Jo, Anna and Catharina – they were all determined, authentic, hard working women who persevered in tough times and were all very passionate. I found myself warming to them all, just as I did Catharina’s brother, Crispijn. Without giving anything away, there are some touching and moving moments surrounding the central characters at the end of novel which is lovely. Overall I would highly recommend this book. Danielle, VIC, 4 Stars

I love it when authors take a piece of history, especially a little-known piece of history, and make a gift of it just as Lauren Chater has done with this gem of a book. Many of us have read stories which link characters separated by generations to an event, item or place. This wonderful book imagines the historical provenance behind a dress; tattered and torn and unearthed by divers trawling through a shipwreck. Our modern-day protagonist, Jo, a textiles historian is charged with studying this relic of the past … back to the 17th Century and the lives of two equally remarkable and wonderful women, We follow the leads, the frustrations and the unravelling of a tale which will stay with readers for a long time. Like her previous two novels, Lauren Chater writes with conviction and heart, totally immersing us in to hunt for the story behind a tattered but beautiful dress. Kerrie, VIC, 4 Stars

Definitely worth the time to read. I felt connected to each of the characters and was invested in the outcome. The two time periods were woven well together dropping little pieces of the story till it all came together nicely (maybe a little rushed) at the end. Loved the beautifully worded descriptions of the dress. I recommend this book. Debra, VIC, 4 Stars

This story is written with dual timelines featuring two women. Jo Bakker, a textiles historian in 2019 and Anna Tesseltje, a laundress in 1651. The story goes back and forth between the different times and is set mostly in Amsterdam and on the island of Texel. I like how with each chapter a little bit more of the story emerges and the beautiful dress starts to reveal its secrets. The dress is silk with intricate embroidery and is found on a shipwreck off the island of Texel. There are other items in the chest with the dress and each holds its own little mystery, but the dress is the star piece of the discovery. I found it really interesting how these items had to be cleaned and preserved and what happens to them over time. The author has thoroughly researched textile preservation, fashion and history from 17th century Amsterdam. I loved reading about history back in 1651 and how hard it was to earn a living and survive. The story also has exciting parts when Jo and her friends from Texel go diving on the shipwreck to see what else they can find. Art also features through the character Catharina van Shurman and I enjoyed reading about the painting techniques and how commissions were done. Overall a really good read with a story that flowed nicely and kept me engrossed until the end. Tracy, WA, 4 Stars

After a slow start The Winter Dress ended up being an enjoyable story that wove its magic and showed that the past and present are forever linked in ways we can’t always see. Gai, NSW, 4 Stars

Written by Australian author Lauren Chater, this is a historical fiction inspired by true events. I really loved the parallel storyline and getting to discover Jo’s story and Anna’s story simultaneously. I also loved the diversity of the different characters from both time periods and the different relationships woven throughout the book, some of them quite unconventional for their time. I enjoyed the vivid imagery that is created by the way sights, sounds and landscapes are described in the narrative. The trials and tribulations of Anna’s life are portrayed beautifully and in a way that made me feel a wide range of emotions for her throughout the story. Likewise with Jo, the way she comes to discover the truths, both good and bad, about certain people in her life is realistic and relatable. Throughout the story there is also very much a theme of female empowerment and independence, which is vastly different in the two different time eras. A very enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more books by this author. Bree, NSW, 4 Stars

This was my first ever novel by Lauren Chater, and it won’t be my last. Her writing was beautiful and so descriptive. I could imagine myself throughout the entire book, from Amsterdam in the 17th century to Sydney in the modern day. This story was told in a dual timeline. Jo, a textiles historian and Dutch ex-pat drawn back to the island where she was born to investigate a 17th century dress. Found in a sunken shipwreck. Jo’s research leads her to Anna Tesseltje, a Amsterdam laundress turned lady’s companion who served the artist Catharina van Shurman. Jo is determined to find out the truth about Anna and the dress, delving deep into Anna’s history. Inspired by true events. The author has done a wonderful job at researching the history of the Winter Dress. If you are a fan of historical fiction then I recommend this book to you. Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read and review this book. Kerissa, WA, 4 Stars

Very interesting read. “The Winter Dress” details the discovery of a dress fit for royalty in a sunken wreck and trying to trace its origin. A dress historian is called in to help with the research into its background. Dr Jo Baaker travel to Holland to endeavour to trace the origin of the dress. She meets with the men who discovered the wreck and subsequently the dress, together with a friend who has assisted her with her research into the history of dresses. This friend ultimately betrays her, but his press release is very premature and rather off reality. Jo meets the local people where the wreckage was found. Much to her surprise, it is the area where her parents tragically died many years previously. The local people rally around her and assist in her research and, ultimately, hold an exhibition of the treasures found in the wreck, particularly the dress. Interesting read weaving together the divers, the government professional authorities, the locals, and Jo and her friend’s research. Glenice, VIC, 4 Stars

The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater is about a dress that was discovered on a 17th century shipwreck off the island of Texel in the Netherlands. Jo Baaker, a textile historian and former resident of Texel, now living in Sydney, is called to oversee the preservation of the dress. We learn through a dual narration that the dress was originally owned by Anna Tesseljte, an artist’s companion in Holland in 1651. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical aspect of the novel, and really liked the character of Anna. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the modern side of the story as much. I felt like there was a lot going on in Jo’s life that was just there to make more of a story. I think Jo’s chapters could have been condensed a bit and maybe some characters taken out as I had trouble remembering who they were after reading Anna’s chapters. All up it was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to fans of historical fiction. Jo, QLD, 3 Stars

This was a fascinating story based on fragments of historical truth. Lauren Chater, author of “Gulliver’s Wife” has written another intriguing narrative this time focusing on a 17th Century silk dress. Discovered in a shipwreck, the winter dress becomes a connection between two women across different centuries. Jo Baaker, a researcher returns to her birthplace to find out more about the owner of the dress, leading her to Anna Tesseltje. Anna is a 17th century laundress who becomes companion to Catharina van Shurman, an artist. As she uncovers the truth about the dress, and Anna’s relationship with Catharina, Jo discovers more about her own past, bringing truth and healing to her unsettled past. Using the silk dress as the connecting element made the dual narratives engaging and easy to connect with, despite the time gap. I thoroughly enjoyed Chater’s descriptive writing – she gives enough detail to visualise and understand the environment, characters and their internal conflict. The story moves swiftly and is an engaging insight into the challenges faces by women in the past as well as in the present. Well worth reading. Kath, VIC, 3 Stars


Utterly Captivating: Read an Extract from The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater

Review | Extract

29 April 2022

Utterly Captivating: Read an Extract from The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater

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      Publisher details

      The Winter Dress
      Lauren Chater
      Simon and Schuster
      06 April, 2022


      Two women separated by centuries but connected by one beautiful silk dress. A captivating novel based on a real-life shipwreck discovered off Texel Island by the bestselling author of Gulliver's Wife, Lauren Chater.Jo Baaker, a textiles historian and Dutch ex-pat is drawn back to the island where she was born to investigate the provenance of a 17th century silk dress. Retrieved by local divers from a sunken shipwreck, the dress offers tantalising clues about the way people lived and died during Holland's famous Golden Age.Jo's research leads her to Anna Tesseltje, a poor Amsterdam laundress turned ladies companion who served the artist Catharina van Shurman for one season at her property outside the Hague. The two women were said to be close, so why did Anna abandon Catharina at the height of her misfortune? And was the dress a gift or did Anna come by it through less honest means? Jo is determined to find out, but as she delves deeper into Anna's history, troubling details about her own past begin to emerge, disrupting the personal narrative she has trusted for sixteen years.On the small Dutch island of Texel where fortunes are lost and secrets lie buried for centuries, Jo will finally discover the truth about herself and her connection to the woman who wore the Winter Dress.
      Lauren Chater
      About the author

      Lauren Chater

      Lauren Chater is the author of the bestselling historical novel The Lace Weaver and the baking compendium Well Read Cookies: Beautiful biscuits inspired by great literature. She is currently working on her third novel, The Winter Dress, inspired by a real 17th century gown found off the Dutch coast in 2014. In her spare time, she loves baking and listening to her children tell their own stories. She lives in Sydney.

      Books by Lauren Chater


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