Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/02/dressmaker.html
The Dressmaker is the story of Ellen Gowan set in Victorian England. Her happy childhood ends abruptly, and life brings struggles and successes, joy and sadness. She and her mother are forced to leave their home.
They are helped by relatives, finding love and acceptance, but also abuse and struggle. They travel to London to create a life for themselves. Further life events ensue, including a love affair, a job, a home, a child, and friendship. The story follows an expected course to an expected conclusion.
This book reminded me of A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. The premise is the same - a woman in trying circumstances who overcomes adversity to reach success and happiness. The situations are different, of course. The Dressmaker covers a much shorter time frame, telling the story of perhaps a decade as opposed to generations. There are fewer characters, and the characters are not developed beyond the one dimension that captures their role in the story.
In other words, The Dressmaker was a pale version of other books of this genre. Not a memorable book. However, an easy, entertaining story in which to lose yourself for a while.