The Dressmaker by Elizabeth Birkeland Oberbeck was much different than I expected. From the book’s description, I got the impression this would be a love story, but it wasn’t. It was more about obsession.

What happens when you experience love at first sight, but one of you is about to marry someone else?

For Claude Reynaud, the answer is to become an obsessive, almost stalker. The author addresses the stalker-y vibes, so it works. One of my favorite lines is “nothing material could symbolize his love for her — or was it his greed for her, he asked himself, an unrelenting, unsatiable craving?” Claude’s obsession is the focus of the book, but there are also subplots. The main focus to me was a midlife crisis. Claude’s behavior really matched my idea of a midlife crisis, and the book ends on him sort of stepping out of it. It seems he had to learn what heartbreak is and how to move on before he could fully move into his maturity as a designer.

As for Valentine and Victor, I saw definite shades of Daisy and Tom Buchanan. Valentine chooses the proper match over love. They’re fairly wreckless in their dealings with other people. “They were careless people…” I quite liked their part in the book after I realized that.

The author has great skills with description. She describes clothes, art, and people with the exact right amount of detail without dragging any descriptions out too long.

I rated it a 3 out of 5 on Goodreads because there were some sections that dragged a little for me, and I found myself impatient with Claude quite often in the beginning (that might be part of the book’s success though). I really started to enjoy it in the second half though.

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