The Dressmaker’s Secret

Picador

The Dressmaker’s Secret, by Rosalie Ham, a sequel to The Dressmaker, publishing date, November 2020

In The Dressmaker, couture was a weapon, and used for disguise. In The Dressmaker’s Secret, Tilly’s challenge is to move away from one-upmanship, vanity and the women of Dungatar, and to employ her talents for beauty, and for something beneficial.

We last saw Tilly Dunnage fleeing Dungatar in a blaze of justified vengeance. In The Dressmaker’s Secret, we meet her in Collins Street, Melbourne. It’s 1953, Coronation Year, and fashionable Melbourne is gearing up to the crowning of Princess Elizabeth. Tilly is hiding in plain sight, trying to conceal her past from her present, and she has new secrets she must keep from those she has left behind. But the past is prologue, and it arrives in the form of Sergeant Farrat, the first of many. The Dressmaker’s Secret continues some of the same ideas on hypocrisy, bullying, transformation, ambition and lies. It’s also about trying to progress when society and the authorities work against those who want to live truthfully. 

This time, amid the ruins of Dungatar, things are resolved a little more satisfactorily.

“A true original. Astringently unsentimental… memorably eccentric… and mischievous.’ Sydney Morning Herald”