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  • Guaranteed to be a favourite for 2021.

    The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison is the third adult novel by Australian author, Meredith Jaffé. With two years left to serve on his seven-year sentence for embezzlement, Derek Brown is dismayed to learn that his only daughter, Debbie, is getting married in a mere seven months’ time. He clearly won’t be able to attend, but needs to do something significant to ensure their once-strong connection is not severed forever. Debs wants only a small, intimate wedding, family and close friends, but her imperious mother, Lorraine is insisting on “the full catastrophe” and Debs is both weary of, and demoralised by, trying on dresses that do nothing to flatter her ample curves. If only she had eloped with Ian… Derek has a mere $200 in his prison account, which won’t pay for a decent wedding gift, so he asks Jane for advice. Jane Watts volunteers every Thursday at Yarrandarrah Correctional Centre via the Connecting Threads program, teaching her Backtackers to sew, trying to give them meaning and purpose through quilting and embroidery. And there’s some genuine and varied talent amongst these burly, hardened criminals. Between Jane and the other inmates, the (frankly ludicrous) suggestion that the group helps Derek make Debbie’s wedding dress is given serious consideration. Derek can only see drawbacks and pitfalls, but Jane maintains that this will be a personal gift, made by his own hand, that will truly demonstrate his love for her. Jane tries to get Debbie’s measurements for the dress, but one encounter with Derek’s vindictive ex-wife sends her packing. Unwilling to abandon the project now that she has her stitchers on board, she is not entirely honest, deciding to wing it from the one view of the bride-to-be. She reasons her motives are pure, although she does have further plans for the dress… Jane’s best friend and flatmate, Councillor Susannah Cockburn is the unsuccessful candidate in the recent mayoral election. When the new mayor announces plans to shut down Yarrandarrah’s library (currently the sole source of reading matter for the gaol), she decides to bring him down off his pedestal by stirring up a bit of community outrage. Susannah also reasons that her “public good” end justifies her means, but a few rumours intended to get the prison community equally agitated have unanticipated consequences. The premise of Jaffé’s story immediately draws the reader’s interest: the incongruity of the image, so well depicted, of a group of brawny prisoners reverently gathered around an exquisite wedding gown, cannot fail to delight. Jaffé’s characters have depth and tons of appeal: even the hardest hearts will be wishing for obstacles to be overcome and Debbie to walk down the aisle wearing the Backtackers’ masterpiece. Minor characters, too, are given wise words and insightful observations. As well as demonstrating the positive rehabilitation features of sewing classes in gaols (relief of boredom and tension, a sense of achievement and potential career direction), Jaffé’s story champions community libraries and touches on those addictive behaviours apart from drugs and alcohol, that are not always acknowledged for their destructive effects in society. Contained within a wonderfully evocative cover, this is a thought-provoking, but also a funny and feel-good read. Guaranteed to be a favourite for 2021. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Harper Collins Australia.

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  • Pleasant surprise!

    This book was recommended by an old school friend. I had heard nothing about it. I looked for it at my library, but allmthe copies were reserved,so impulsively bought the e-book. I wasn't disappointed! This book was fabulous! It gave me all the feels. I chuckled, I cried and I was angry at times with frustration. Thoroughly recommend it.

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    2 person found this review helpful

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  • The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison

    Enjoyed reading this book from start to finish. Even though its a novel, it shows how much programs like these can help inmates so that they can lead worthwhile lives and gain self respect. Everyone needs support at different stages of their lives and many inmates have never experienced this support. Well done Meredith.

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    1 person found this review helpful

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  • Brilliant

    What a fabulous book. It envoked all the emotions. I laughed and cried. It was so real and believeable. Great characters and the story flowed beautifully.

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  • Well worth a read

    A well written book encompassing all emotions. I had tears at the end, this book was a pleasant change from my usual genre.

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