The Midnight Dress

Karen Foxlee. Knopf, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-375-85645-7
It’s the mid-1980s when lonely 15-year-old Rose Lovell and her recovering alcoholic father wash up in a tiny Australian beach town. Against her better judgment, she allows herself to be befriended by exuberant, beautiful Pearl Kelly, who sweeps Rose up into various whims and projects. The procurement of a dress for the upcoming Harvest Parade brings Rose to Edie Baker, locally considered to be a witch. As Edie teaches a reluctant Rose to sew a gorgeous midnight blue dress to wear in the parade, she recounts tales from her past that become the backdrop for both the deepening of Rose and Pearl’s friendship and its eventual dissolution. Not unlike an expert seamstress herself, Foxlee (The Anatomy of Wings) skillfully weaves multiple stories throughout this novel, including eerie, reader-directed chapter openers that portend future tragedy for the girls. The casual beauty of the language (“She leans forward. There’s a sudden applause of rain on the roof”) and the complex storytelling style create a haunting, atmospheric novel about friendship, betrayal, and loss. Ages 14–up. Agent: Catherine Drayton, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/09/2013
Release date: 10/08/2013
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