Book Review: The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater

About the Book:

Two women separated by centuries but connected by one beautiful silk dress. A captivating novel based on a real-life shipwreck discovered off Texel Island by the bestselling author of Gulliver’s Wife, Lauren Chater.

Jo Baaker, a textiles historian and Dutch ex-pat is drawn back to the island where she was born to investigate the provenance of a 17th century silk dress. Retrieved by local divers from a sunken shipwreck, the dress offers tantalising clues about the way people lived and died during Holland’s famous Golden Age.

Jo’s research leads her to Anna Tesseltje, a poor Amsterdam laundress turned ladies’ companion who served the enigmatic artist Catharina van Shurman. The two women were said to share a powerful bond, so why did Anna abandon Catharina at the height of her misfortune?

Jo is convinced the truth lies hidden between the folds of this extraordinary dress. But as she delves deeper into Anna’s history, troubling details about her own past begin to emerge.

On the small Dutch island of Texel where fortunes are lost and secrets lie buried for centuries, Jo will finally discover the truth about herself and the woman who wore the Winter Dress.

Published by Simon & Schuster Australia

Released 30th March 2022

My Thoughts:

A story of grief, loss, and love, The Winter Dress connects two women across centuries, through a single gown and all that it represents to both the original owner and the one who is researching it within the modern day. Told with a dual timeline narrative, the story unfolds in pieces, all of them connected back to the dress that forms the basis of the story and offers such a fascinating insight into history. Just as she did with her previous two novels, Lauren’s research is so finely tuned, so beautifully detailed, she places you firmly into a whole other place and time. I was fascinated by how much history can be gleaned from an article of clothing; it’s certainly an area of research I would be keen to know more about.

I enjoyed this novel immensely, so much so, I would have honestly loved for there to have been more of it. Both women, Jo in the modern day, and Anna in the 17th century, had stories I became heavily invested in. There were times when I felt like I was only skimming the surface of their stories, particularly the relationships they were forming. Lauren’s writing is magnificent, thought provoking and insightful, literary in style and tone, and always engaging. I am slightly greedy for her words, which is why I wished for more. The story as it is though is brilliant, fast paced and compelling. Fans of historical fiction will relish every page.


Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.


6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater


  2. Pingback: 2022 Historical Novel Prize longlist | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

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