Friday, March 26, 2010

Dream Dresses - brief review of a must-read!

I don't read a lot of short stories, but this 2009 collection Dream Dresses from anthropologist Hilary (Cunningham) Scharper is terrific.  She examines the relationship between women and clothing, exploring a different aspect in the stories.  They range from the longing of a school girl for different boots, boots that will make her fit in and stand out at the same time, to the way sisters compare bodies in their rivalry for a dress: what our clothing says about us, what it says to others  and the meaning we imbue in these items.  

Her tales evoke emotions that most women feel at some time in their life.  That with just the right dress, everything will be okay.  That if I lose the baby weight, I'll please my husband.  That if I bury morther-in-law in a conservative suit, no one will remember her embarrassing behaviour in real life. From girlhood longing, to teen angst about acceptance, through mid-life and aging, Scharper writes about the hopes dreams that our clothing is laden with, about the dresses we have and those that we long for. 

I highly recommend this wonderful collection.  There's more about Scharper and this book in this article from the Toronto Star in 2009.

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