Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book Review: Fashion's Lady

Author: Sandra Wilson
Publisher: Robert Hale Limited, London
ISBN: 978-0-7090-8312-2
Pages: 224
First published in Great Britain, 2007

The book revolves around high flying fashion society of London in times of nineteenth century during war. The story revolves around the life of Susannah Garland, her cousin and failed lover Miles Devereux and her business financer Sir Jeffery Stratton. The book takes you into the world of her royal majesty, her fashionable courtroom ladies, their tales at fashion houses and the gowns on which they daunt.

Susannah Garland is an unfortunate niece of Lord Devereux of Sanderby and is in love with his son. Miles Devereux is forced to marry into money to Lady Agnes while his father decides to get rid of his niece, when Susannah decides to flee the Sanderby. Her skill as a dressmaker is all what she has and she gets employed by London’s foremost house of fashion run by fashion queen Madame Hilary.

Her life as seamstress at Madame Hilary is not smooth and she has to face the hatred of forewoman Miss Chiddcock and her assistant James Ridley. However, her designs soon get noticed by Madame Hilary only to add to her misery and Madame plans to blackmail Susannah ruthlessly for her fear of not revealing her identity to her uncle. In between, chances fling her into Mile’s arms again, and this time he wants to set her up as his mistress.

But she also encounters dangerously Sir Jeffery Stratton, who despises the Devereux family. Susannah’s heart quickens when he too proposes to set her up…not as her lover but instead as financer of Miss Garland’s New House of Fashion. Her new venture takes her to heights and she finally realizes her dream to design for her Majesty, The Queen.

The book takes you though various seasons of London as Britain follow into the war. The luxurious life of courtroom ladies, the world of chiffons, colorful furs, taffetas, flounced ribbons, velvets and furs have been magnificently portrayed. The story starts from Sanderby, traveling through the fashionable lanes of Covent Garden, Tavistock Street, Berkeley Square, Catherine Lane and finally ending at St. James.

There are mentions about the war at frequent intervals but the plot revolves around the high profile fashion ladies of London and their earnest desires to look beautiful amongst others. The end is quite predictable as one read through last chapters of the book. However, it is a good read for someone who wants to read about fashion world in pre-modeling era (when Susannah’s idea to make real ladies wear and portray the designs was seen as bad-mannered and disrespectful). Though it is a work of fiction but gives you a rough idea about the fashion streets of London during nineteenth century.


  1. I started reading the book at my library today. IT starts off predictably enough. A kind, helpless girl thrown into desperate circumstances, who finds aid in the most dangerous places- the cunning hero, of course. I'm not sure if I'll finish it, but since I'm too much in love with the georgian era stories, I guess I just might.
    Get back to you on how I liked it.

  2. sure.....will look forward for your review.