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BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS FOR THE WINTER DRESS

 

1. It’s hard to believe that the silk dress lay under the sea for approximately 400 years before it was discovered. Do you think the owner of the dress would relate to society today? Why/why not?


2. Jo’s strong memories of her parents start to expand as she spends time on Texel learning more about them. Have you ever found that memories you thought were unshakeable have changed or opened up over time?


3. After working together for years, Jo finds her voice in speaking up against Liam who pushes her boundaries and takes their professional relationship for granted. Have you been in a situation where you’ve stood up to a colleague? What was the outcome?


4. As a teenager Jo moved from the small island of Texel to the bustle of inner Sydney and then as an adult moved
to London, losing and finding herself over the years. Have you lived in small towns or large cities? What does home feel like to you?

 

5. Every time she touches the dress, Anna is transformed into a more confident version of herself. Do you have a favourite garment that fills you with joy or makes you feel powerful? Do you experience the world differently when you wear different types of clothes?


6. Can you name an inspirational female Renaissance painter? What was life like for a woman as an artist in the 1600s?


7. Would you describe Catharina van Shurman as a feminist? Why/why not?


8. Jo is helped by professional academics such as Jeanette Hall at the Rijksmuseum and the amateur historians of the Texel Historical Society alike. How important are both forms of curation and history keeping?


9. Jo and Anna both lost their families at a young age and had to find their way in the world quite independently. How do you think this impacted their life choices? Did they have real choices?


10. The violence perpetrated against Blanche by Maarten Horst is shocking and yet remains highly relatable to readers now. What was marriage like for women in the 17th century? Have we made much progress today?


11. Jo’s experience of ocean diving is steeped in the nostalgia of her childhood as well as the beauty of connecting with the natural world and the physical challenges of going down so deep. Have you ever been ocean diving? Describe the experience or alternately what you imagine it would be like.


12. Name a discovery of historical significance that’s always fascinated you and explain why it captivated you.

The Winter Dress

‘From a few shimmering strands of truth, Lauren Chater has spun an intriguing story of love, loss and fulfilment.’ Pip Williams, bestselling author of The Dictionary of Lost Words

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.

Praise for The Winter Dress
Vivid, expansive and richly imagined, The Winter Dress weaves together a fascinating historical mystery and an uncompromising portrait of the possibility and price of female autonomy with remarkable and deeply affecting results.’ James Bradley, author of Wrack

'Wrap yourself in Chater's prose. The Winter Dress is a captivating tale of discovery and obsession by one of Australia's very best historical fiction authors. Absolutely essential reading.' Melissa Ashley, author of The Birdman’s Wife