Sunday, August 30, 2020

Weekend Review: The Pink Suit

The Pink Suit / Nicole Mary Kelby
NY: Little Brown, c2014.
288 p.
I found this book in my library collection, and decided to give it a try wholly because of the sewing content. The plot revolves around an Irish seamstress, Kate, who works for an American couture house making clothes for Jackie Kennedy, including the infamous pink suit she was wearing when JFK was killed.

Now, I don't like political stories, especially not American hagiography, so I was hesitant about this one but gave it a fair shake.

My opinion? The sewing content is realistic, sensuously described and the workplace is also evoked with realism and was so interesting! The adoration of Jackie Kennedy was a bit much to take, and the story around the story -- the life of the seamstress in question, her family, romance, longing for home (Ireland) -- was not interesting to me at all.

So it's the New York boutique Chez Ninon, run by two elderly eccentric ladies, and Kate's traditional NY neighbourhood where they frown on her taking a ride in a convertible and think she's putting on airs by working in fashion and dressing well, that are the main contrast here. Jackie's unattainable fairy tale life is the dream, contrasted with the unhappy grind that Kate finds herself living.

The problem is I didn't really like Kate much, she was both dull and isolated, so there weren't many other characters to engage with. Her only interesting characteristic was her sewing skill, which was described and shown but not enough for me! And her romance with the local middle aged butcher was depressing; it was clear that she was going to give up her dreams of a fashion line of her own and the chance of going into a boutique with a coworker, in order to marry a butcher and spend her life as a housewife and butchery assistant. It reminded me of the story arc of another book I previously read in which the main character gives everything up for a man/a child as well -- The Dress in the Window -- and that one frustrated the heck out of me as well.

After all the potential of her fashion work in New York, Kate simply gives it up for a disappointing marriage to someone she kind of likes and they leave America altogether. So much for the American dream.


  1. I learned a new word today - hagiography! Not sure I'll ever be able to use it, but...
    Books like that drive me nuts - although in the 5o's, that kind of life may have been the norm. I was given a similar book recently - I still don't know why I even finished reading it - and it got relegated to the blue box!

    1. I think I am just impatient with that narrative arc, realistic though it may be. But I will always give a book with sewing in it a go!

  2. This is an interesting perspective because I loved the story. My thoughts was that it was a wonderful romp through pop culture, history and sewing dreams. Maybe it helped that I'm a bit of a political / history junkie. Thanks for the review, you raised some interesting points! Still love the book though.

    1. I'm glad you loved it! It wasn't quite right for me but there were some lovely bits in it.


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