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Lowther Hall Nora Collisson Centre (Library): Past Event: Literary Breakfast with Rosalie Ham 2017
It was the picture of Kate Winslet, looking like a 1960s screen siren against the backdrop of rural Australia that brought The Dressmaker to my attention — after that, I started to read more about the book and the author, Rosalie Ham. It’s such an unusual mix — haute couture and rural Australia — would you have thought of that mix? But, the book is a story about prejudice in a small town, and, as Rosalie Ham points out below, haute couture in a small town away from the city boutiques worked well highlighting that.
Rosalie has written two other novels — Summer at Mount Hope and There Should be Dancing. Summer at Mount Hope is about the choices women were faced with in the late 1800s in Australia, and There Should be Dancing is about grief, about admitting truths to oneself her character would rather not. It all sounds like intense reading, doesn’t it? But her books are also known for their humour as well.
Read on to learn more about the women in Rosalie Ham’s books, her love for rural Australia and what she learned from writing her own screenplay for The Dressmaker.
Tilly Dunnage has come home to care for her mad old mother. She left the small Victorian town of Dungatar years before, and became an accomplished couturier in Paris. Now she earns her living making exquisite frocks for the people who drove her away when she was ten. Through the long Dungatar nights, she sits at her sewing machine, planning revenge. The Dressmaker is a modern Australian classic, much loved for its bittersweet humour. Set in the 1950s, its subjects include haute couture, love and hate, and a cast of engagingly eccentric characters. It is now a major motion picture, starring Kate Winslet and fine Australian actors including Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving, Liam Hemsworth and extras from the author's hometown of Jerilderie.