The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison by Meredith Jaffé. (2021).
**4 out of 5 stars**
Derek’s daughter Debbie is getting married but he’s in Yarrandarrah Correctional Centre for embezzling, and thanks to his ex he hasn’t spoken to Debbie in years. He wants to make a grand gesture but what? His weekly prison sewing circle soon makes a decision – he’ll make her a wedding dress. But as time runs out and tensions rise both inside and outside the prison, the wedding dress project takes on greater significance. With lives at stake, Derek feels his chance to reconcile with Debbie is slipping through his fingers…
I really enjoyed this refreshing and original novel. A story about male prisoners in a sewing circle? Not an average stereotype but it definitely worked! I appreciated that the novel challenged the normal prisoner/prison stereotypes and it felt realistic rather than dramatic as can be portrayed in various media sometimes. While this book might come across as light-hearted, I think it’s got some important messages in it in relation to addiction, rehabilitation, politics, standing up for yourself and others, redemption, friendship and so on. Derek is the central character of the story, however the novel is filled with a variety of fantastic characters that result in many humorous as well as touching scenes. I happily recommend this modern and unique novel.
P.S. Might have to renew my marriage vows just so I can wear Debbie’s wedding dress because it sounded gorgeous!