Dressed By Iris By Mary Anne Oconnor: Book's Review and Summary

Dressed by Iris by Mary-Anne OConnor - Carmen Grantham


Dressed by Iris by Mary-Anne O’Connor

Dressed by Iris by Mary-Anne O’Connor is a novel that transports readers to the streets of Sydney, Australia in the 1960s. The story follows the life of young seamstress, Iris, who dreams of opening her own fashion boutique but must navigate the challenges of a male-dominated industry in order to make her dreams a reality. Along the way, she forms unlikely alliances with a group of misfits and discovers the power of true friendship and resilience.

Author Mary-Anne O’Connor is an Australian writer and creative writing teacher. She is the author of four historical fiction novels, including Where Fortune Lies and In a Great Southern Land, which have garnered critical acclaim for their vivid depictions of Australian history.

In Dressed by Iris, O’Connor explores themes of ambition, sexism, and the power of community. Through the character of Iris, readers witness the struggles faced by women in the fashion industry during the 1960s, but also the determination of individuals to overcome obstacles and make their dreams a reality.

The writing in Dressed by Iris is engaging and evocative, bringing the bustling streets of 1960s Sydney to life with vivid descriptions of fashion, music, and culture. O’Connor’s characters are a colorful bunch, with diverse backgrounds and personalities that add depth and nuance to the story.

One of the strengths of Dressed by Iris is the way it explores issues of gender and equality in the workplace. Through Iris’s experiences, readers see how difficult it was for women to be taken seriously in a male-dominated industry, and the barriers they faced trying to achieve their goals. However, the novel also showcases how women could band together and support one another, working towards a common goal as a team.

Another strength of the book is the way it transports readers to a different time and place. The 1960s was a time of social and cultural upheaval, and Dressed by Iris captures the vibe and energy of the era perfectly. From the fashion to the music to the political climate, O’Connor’s writing immerses the reader in this fascinating time period.

While there is much to admire about Dressed by Iris, there are a few weaknesses as well. Some readers may find the pacing of the novel to be slow at times, particularly in the early chapters when Iris is first establishing herself as a seamstress. Additionally, while the characters are well-drawn and engaging, there are a lot of them to keep track of, which can be confusing for some readers.

Comparing Dressed by Iris to other works in its genre, it stands out for its focus on the fashion industry and the struggles faced by women within it. Many historical fiction novels set in the same time period tend to focus on political or social issues, rather than the world of fashion. This unique perspective makes Dressed by Iris a refreshing and engaging read.

Overall, Dressed by Iris is a well-written and engaging novel that tackles important themes related to sexism and the power of resilience. It transports readers to a different time and place, providing a fascinating glimpse into 1960s Sydney and the world of fashion. While there are some pacing issues and a large cast of characters to keep track of, the novel is ultimately a worthwhile read. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in historical fiction or the fashion industry.


What inspired Mary-Anne O’Connor to write Dressed by Iris?

According to O’Connor, she was inspired to write Dressed by Iris after seeing a photograph of her mother in a dress that she had sewn herself. She began to imagine what it would be like to be a seamstress in the 1960s, and the story of Iris began to take shape from there.

What period of history does Dressed by Iris take place in?

Dressed by Iris is set in Sydney, Australia during the 1960s.

What are some themes explored in Dressed by Iris?

Dressed by Iris explores themes related to ambition, sexism, gender equality, and the power of community.

How does Dressed by Iris compare to other historical fiction novels set in the same time period?

While there are many historical fiction novels set in the 1960s, Dressed by Iris stands out for its focus on the fashion industry and the experiences of women trying to make their way in a male-dominated field.

Is Dressed by Iris recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction?

Yes, Dressed by Iris is recommended for anyone with an interest in historical fiction, particularly those who are interested in the world of fashion and the experiences of women during the 1960s.

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