Read our Review of Meredith Jaffé’s Heartfelt New Novel The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison

Read our Review of Meredith Jaffé’s Heartfelt New Novel The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison

Derek’s daughter Debbie is getting married. He’s desperate to be there, but he’s banged up in Yarrandarrah Correctional Centre for embezzling funds from the golf club, and, thanks to his ex-wife, Lorraine, he hasn’t seen Debbie in years. Unable to attend his daughter’s special day, he wants to make a grand gesture – to show her how much he loves her. But what can he do?

Inspiration strikes while he’s embroidering a cushion at his weekly prison sewing circle – he’ll make her a wedding dress. His fellow stitchers rally around and soon this motley gang of crims is immersed in a joyous whirl of silks, satins and covered buttons.

But as time runs out and tensions rise both inside and outside the prison, the wedding dress project takes on greater significance. With lives at stake, Derek feels his chance to reconcile with Debbie is slipping through his fingers…

From the author of The Making of Christina and The Fence comes The Dressmaker’s of Yarrandarrah Prison, a funny, dark and moving novel about finding humanity, friendship and redemption in unexpected places. This poignant yet comic story about a men’s prison sewing circle will appeal to fans of The Full Monty and Orange is the New Black.

There’s so much to love about this story, but what stood out the most for me was Jaffé’s ragtag band of criminals, who are each richly drawn and a joy to follow. There’s the protagonist Derek, a model-con who is always the first to show up to his weekly sewing circle, and young crim Joey Maloney, who is a dab hand with a bedazzler. Then there’s Jane, a volunteer, who spends her days teaching hardened crims how to embroider. Jaffé’s character work shines here, and she goes to great lengths throughout the novel to break any stereotypes we might have about those incarcerated.

Though The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison is essentially a heart-warming story about a father’s love for his daughter, don’t be fooled into thinking this is an easy, light-hearted read. The novel is set in a men’s correctional centre and Jaffé never lets the reader forget this. Prison can be a tense – even dangerous – place, and Jaffé offers readers an honest look at what life is like for those on the inside. She walks a fine line, delivering a story that is both warm and hopeful, yet still remains true to its subject matter.

Funny, heartfelt, and gorgeously written, The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison is a highly original and extremely enjoyable read from Meredith Jaffé.

Reviews

Highly Original and Moving: Read an Extract from Meredith Jaffé's The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison

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5 May 2021

Highly Original and Moving: Read an Extract from Meredith Jaffé's The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison

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        Publisher details

        The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison
        Author
        Meredith Jaffé
        Publisher
        HarperCollins
        Genre
        Fiction
        Released
        05 May, 2021

        Synopsis

        Can a wedding dress save a bunch of hardened crims? The Full Monty meets Orange is the New Black in a poignantly comic story about a men's prison sewing circle. Derek's daughter Debbie is getting married. He's desperate to be there, but he's banged up in Yarrandarrah Correctional Centre for embezzling funds from the golf club, and, thanks to his ex-wife, Lorraine, he hasn't spoken to Debbie in years. He wants to make a grand gesture - to show her how much he loves her. But what? Inspiration strikes while he's embroidering a cushion at his weekly prison sewing circle - he'll make her a wedding dress. His fellow stitchers rally around and soon this motley gang of crims is immersed in a joyous whirl of silks, satins and covered buttons. But as time runs out and tensions rise both inside and outside the prison, the wedding dress project takes on greater significance. With lives at stake, Derek feels his chance to reconcile with Debbie is slipping through his fingers... A funny, dark and moving novel about finding humanity, friendship and redemption in unexpected places.
        Meredith Jaffé
        About the author

        Meredith Jaffé

        Meredith Jaffé is a writer and occasional book critic. For four years she wrote the weekly literary column 'The Bookshelf' for the online women's magazine The Hoopla; sharing literary news, reviewing books and interviewing writers. Meredith regularly chairs panels, presents workshops and interviews fellow authors for various literary events and writers' festivals.As a keen believer in the power of literacy, Meredith volunteers at The Footpath Library where she manages their annual EPIC! writing competition for school children. She is currently working on her next novel in between riding her horses and enjoying farm life with her family on the beautiful NSW south coast.

        Books by Meredith Jaffé

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