The Midnight Dress [NOOK Book]


Quiet misfit Rose doesn't expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It's better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whenever her dad gets itchy feet. But Rose can't resist the mysterious ...
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The Midnight Dress

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Quiet misfit Rose doesn't expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It's better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whenever her dad gets itchy feet. But Rose can't resist the mysterious charms of the town or the popular girl, try as she might.

Pearl convinces Rose to visit Edie Baker, once a renowned dressmaker, now a rumored witch. Together Rose and Edie hand-stitch an unforgettable dress of midnight blue for Rose to wear at the Harvest Festival—a dress that will have long-lasting consequences on life in Leonora, a dress that will seal the fate of one of the girls. Karen Foxlee's breathtaking novel weaves friendship, magic, and a murder mystery into something moving, real, and distinctly original.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up— Rose Lovell, 15, lives with her father in a trailer, moving from place to place along the coast in Queensland, Australia. Since her mother's death when she was four, Rose's father has become an unreliable and unpredictable alcoholic, although when he lands a job in a town called Paradise, they seem to settle in for awhile. Rose enrolls in the local high school and meets Pearl Kelly, who's pretty and popular, but Rose would sooner trust a rock than another human being, and her judgment is not far off in this case. The natural world is Rose's metier, and she revels in the sea, the mountains, and the forest, all of which are beautifully described. Independent by circumstance and by choice, she meets Edie Baker, another outsider. She is the last of a long line of dressmakers-and rumored to cast spells. When Rose needs something to wear to be in the town's Harvest Parade, Edie teaches her that every stitch is a memory, helping her learn not only the discipline of the sewing art, but the value of their friendship as well. The finished dress, a masterpiece, stirs Pearl's jealousy, and after the parade she convinces Rose to trade gowns. As midnight approaches, the dress becomes the catalyst for a terrrible accident-or were there indications of tragedy all along? That's the mystery the local detective has to untangle, though readers may want to reread the beginning of each chapter's italic "clues" to reach a satisfying conclusion.—Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY
Publishers Weekly
★ 09/09/2013
It’s the mid-1980s when lonely 15-year-old Rose Lovell and her recovering alcoholic father wash up in a tiny Australian beach town. Against her better judgment, she allows herself to be befriended by exuberant, beautiful Pearl Kelly, who sweeps Rose up into various whims and projects. The procurement of a dress for the upcoming Harvest Parade brings Rose to Edie Baker, locally considered to be a witch. As Edie teaches a reluctant Rose to sew a gorgeous midnight blue dress to wear in the parade, she recounts tales from her past that become the backdrop for both the deepening of Rose and Pearl’s friendship and its eventual dissolution. Not unlike an expert seamstress herself, Foxlee (The Anatomy of Wings) skillfully weaves multiple stories throughout this novel, including eerie, reader-directed chapter openers that portend future tragedy for the girls. The casual beauty of the language (“She leans forward. There’s a sudden applause of rain on the roof”) and the complex storytelling style create a haunting, atmospheric novel about friendship, betrayal, and loss. Ages 14–up. Agent: Catherine Drayton, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2013:
"Atmospheric, lyric and unexpected.”

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, September 9, 2013:
"The casual beauty of the language and the complex storytelling style create a haunting, atmospheric novel about friendship, betrayal, and loss."

Starred Review, The Horn Book, January/February 2014:
" Though the layers are many, they coalesce into a dreamlike, eerie whole told in mesmerizing, sensuous prose.”

VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Meghann Meeusen
Rose Lovell does not think the town of Leonora will be different than any of the rest she and her father have meandered into, and she does not expect much from him either, having learned long ago that it was up to her to take care of herself and sometimes him too. Yet when Rose encounters the remarkable Pearl Kelly, who writes love letters in highlighter and wants to run away to Paris, she also does not realize how much her life is about to change. Pearl introduces Rose to the town’s mysterious outsider, Edie Baker. Edie and Rose make a midnight blue dress for the upcoming harvest festival . . . a night that proves to be far more life changing and heartbreaking than anyone expects. The Midnight Dress intertwines several levels of storytelling to build a poignant and engaging tale. Each chapter begins describing either the dreadful night a girl in a midnight blue gown disappeared or the investigation that followed, then flashes back to events leading to the festival. Edie also adds to the narrative by recounting her own past with the dress she and Rose are remaking, offering Rose her memories and her unique history. Tragedy, drama, and romance weave through each story, but throughout, mystery captivates readers who will question what happened on that fateful night up until the final pages. Reviewer: Meghann Meeusen; Ages 15 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-09-01
A literary mystery with a Down Under flair. Like Foxlee's debut (The Anatomy of Wings, 2009), this is set in the Australian countryside in the 1980s and is peppered with Australian terms that may be unfamiliar to American readers (caravan, petrol) and references to historical moments that may not register (Chernobyl). But the assured and powerful writing will carry readers beyond any momentary stumbling blocks. Rose Lovell and her father are drifters. When they alight in Leonora, Rose finds herself drawn into friendship with the ebullient, sparkling Pearl and preparations for the annual Harvest Parade, which leads her to odd, old Edie Baker, a seamstress and storyteller who provides angry Rose with unconditional support. Each chapter begins with the end of the story: A girl has disappeared after the parade, a girl who might be Rose or might be Pearl, undercutting the poignant but hopeful story with the anticipation of something terrible. This is, in the end, a story about the tensions of love and anger, between parents and children, between boys and girls and men and women, and about the tension between being alone and being accepted. Fans of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mysteries will be delighted to find similarly smart, intricate storytelling loaded with genuinely teen concerns. Atmospheric, lyric and unexpected. (Mystery. 13 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449818213
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/8/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 427,490
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

KAREN FOXLEE is the author of The Anatomy of Wings, winner of the Commonweath Writer's Prize and a Parents' Choice Gold Winner. She lives in Gympie, Australia.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2013

    This was great

    The beautiful and intricatley written words made this book stand out. A pleasant surprise. Only reason it didnt get five stars was because i figured out the ending fairly early on. but i wont say it was predictable, im just good at guessing. Definitely should read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2015

    more from this reviewer

    Rose Lovell doesn't expect much from the small seaside town of L

    Rose Lovell doesn't expect much from the small seaside town of Leonora. Then again, the town doesn't expect much from her either. Rose has seen towns like this before. She'll likely see even more when her father's wanderlust kicks in and they drive off in their caravan again.

    In all the towns, in all the schools, Rose has never seen anyone quite like Pearl Kelly. Pearl who thinks everyone is nice. Pearl who writes in highlighter and dreams of Russia. Vivacious, popular Pearl who organizes the high school float for the annual Harvest Festival Parade.

    Rose never could have guessed in those first moments that she and Pearl would become friends. She couldn't have known that Pearl would convince Rose--a lonely hailstorm next to Pearl's sunshine--to make a dress for the Harvest Parade.

    Edie Baker, the supposed town witch, is known for her dressmaking as much as her strange, ramshackle house. Together she and Rose piece together a dress of midnight blue and magic as Edie reveals pieces of her own past to Rose while they bend over the stitches together.
    By the time the parade draws near they will have created an unforgettable dress. A dress of mystery and beauty, but also one that will become woven into the fabric of a tragedy that will forever mark the town of Leonora and leave both girls changed in The Midnight Dress (2013) by Karen Foxlee.
    The Midnight Dress is a haunting blend of mystery and beauty as the events leading to the Harvest Festival and the aftermath of that night unfold simultaneously. Foxlee expertly knits the two stories together in chapters titled for different stitches.

    Lyrical dialogue and poetic descriptions lend a timeless air to this story of an unforgettable friendship between two girls who are lonely and yearning for very different things in a small Australian town in 1987.* Moments from the near and distant past blend seamlessly as Edie's own story is revealed over the sewing of the dress.

    There is something half-wild about the characters in The Midnight Dress. That same sense of dangerous allure and an underlying dignity comes through in Foxlee's writing as she describes the sometimes brutal town politics and the wonders found in the rain forest bordering the town.
    The Midnight Dress is a beautiful story of the many forms love can take and the enduring power of positive thoughts. But at the same time it examines unspeakable loss and the fact that tragedies never leave people unmarred--actions, however small or well-meant, have consequences. It's hard to call this book a happy one, or even an optimistic one. Many of the characters here are broken; many of them will remain that way for a very long while. At the same time, however, this story offers moments of beauty with deceptively ornate and electric writing.

    Easily one of the best books I've read this year and highly recommended. Just make sure you have a happy book lined up for right after.

    *The time period doesn't matter ostensibly because this book is largely timeless. I just felt very clever for figuring out the year and wanted to share it.

    Possible Pairings: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell, A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg, Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, Teach Me by R. A. Nelson, Tamar by Mal Peet, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

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  • Posted February 13, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    In a round about way this is story of a missing girl. It is told

    In a round about way this is story of a missing girl. It is told in two parts. The beginning of the chapters details the events of the day of the disappearance and the investigation that follows, while the rest of the chapter tells the story of Rose and through Rose - her friend Pearl. 

    While the story is quite interesting, I really wasn't totally sure what it was about or why it was being told for a very long time. It seemed like it was mostly just a story about a couple girls. The writing was very good, but the story just wasn't what I was expecting and, unfortunately, not something I would have normally read. 

    *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

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