Friday, May 13, 2022

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang


It's AAPI month and one of my goals was to try and get to some of the Asian-authored books on my Kindle that I haven't read yet. THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER has been on my radar for a while because I heard it was a super adorable graphic novel that addresses a non-binary identity in an accessible and fun way. And all those people who said that were totally right, because it DOES.

Frances is a seamstress. When she makes a risque dress for a girl who despises convention, she is fired from her job, only to be hired by a mysterious person claiming to represent a wealthy patron. It turns out the patron is the Belgian prince, Sebastian, who secretly likes going out and wearing dresses. In a touching moment, he tells Frances that sometimes he likes being a prince, but lately he's felt more like a princess and he wants her to make dresses for him.

At the same time, Sebastian's parents are putting pressure on him to get married and secure the throne. He's meeting princesses by day and going out on the town by night. When an opportunity arises for Frances to meet the designer of her dreams, it might risk Sebastian's big secret kidding out. And it tests the limits of Frances's and Sebastian's relationship: are they patron and creator? Are they friends? Or are they something more?

Obviously this is literally and figuratively costume fiction. There's a bit of wish fulfillment fantasy in it, too. But I don't mind that when it's done well. The themes of embracing your inner-self and accepting others for who they are is really beautiful, and there were at least three times that my eyeballs came pretty close to parting with some of their precious tears. The fashion show at the end was high key the best part. If you're looking for a feel-good book, this is it.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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