I’ve been trying to keep my powder dry about this book, but I can’t stay silent any longer. Virago publishes The Pink Suit in June (May for US readers here), but I strongly suggest you pre order now. In 2014, a novel about a seamstress becomes the lead title of a feminist list. Let’s all pause to let out a cheer right now, shall we?
Okay, so this is what you need to know about Nicole Mary Kelby‘s novel. It’s inspired by an iconic pink Chanel-style boucle suit that was made for the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy. It follows the life, love and dreams of Irish immigrant, Kate, as she works on this suit. Both women’s stories become entwined on a fateful day when the suit becomes spattered in blood. But this book is about so much more…
If you’re a person who has ever dared to dream, someone who’s felt scared yet thrilled by love, or a mere mortal whose soul has flown with the handling of thread and the touch of fabric, you are going to relish this story. If you’re also looking for details of 1960s New York, you’ve come to the right place. And if you want some cherry on your icing on your cake, I should probably mention the staggering couture detail around the making of this suit. Salivating? You should be. I promise, you will learn dressmaking details that you never knew before. Dare I suggest, you’ll become a better Sewist for reading this novel.
I’m currently in New York, a stone’s throw from Seventh Avenue, described in evocative detail as it stood 50+ years ago:
As Kate walked down Seventh, trucks jumped the curb and parked on the sidewalk; vans cut in and out of the skittish traffic. All around her, men were running with racks of dresses on hangers or pushing handcarts overflowing with fabric or trim or both. The windows on the second floors of the buildings were flung open, and the furious music of sewing machines mixed with the melodies of gossip from those mice, those back-room girls, the sweatshop girls.
I took a stroll down Seventh Avenue, to see how it compared.
Pretty different, huh? But a few blocks down, I indeed ran into a man pushing a trolley of dresses. And look at that sign, pointing out the nearest Irish pub. Manhattan is littered with Irish pubs, the legacy of immigrants, just like Kate. The Pink Suit was allowing me to discover the history of New York.
And then I went shopping. Pink seemed to be the theme of the day.
This is Paron Fabrics, which is a great street for fabric shops open on a Sunday – W39th street. It’s Goldhawk Road with bagels.
So, I haven’t finished reading The Pink Suit yet, which means I can’t properly call this a review. I have 100 cherished pages to go. I might have to eke them out. Do you think you’ll be reading this book? I recommend you save it for those special moments. Believe me, stories like this don’t come along very often.