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The Prince and the Dressmaker: 03/01/18
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang is a middle grade graphic novel set in Paris in the time leading up to the opening of Émile Zola's The Ladies' Paradise (Au bonheur des dames) (1883).
Frances is hired last minute to make a dress for the ball held by the King and Queen of Belgium in the hopes of finding a bride for their sixteen year old son, Sebastian. When the girl describes a dress that will shock and horrify the other attendees and Frances complies, she is about to be let go from the shop for her insubordination. Instead, she's hired by a man who has a client willing to pay well beyond her normal salary.
Her client ends up being Prince Sebastian, who is a "prince who likes to wear dresses" and sometimes "feels like a princess." His first job for her is to create a citrus inspired dress — one to go with a fiery red wig he's acquired. The dress and the wig lead to the creation of an alter-ego, Lady Crystallia.
I say the book is set in the time before Au bonheur des dames because one of the themes of the story is how women's fashion is changing. There is concern over the announced department store that will forever alter the way people buy clothing. Frances, though, sees it as an opportunity as she is feeling more and more trapped by the secrets that she has to keep for Sebastian.
Obviously the big drama is around Sebastian and his secret. The stakes are high because he's the crown prince. But a lot that turns out to be his own self driven fears of what would happen if he were found out. Of course he is found out and at first things seem to follow the worst case scenario. Except that's not how it plays out.
It's one of those graphic novels that will take you through a full range of emotions but will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. If you want more of the same but in a modern day setting, please check out Jen Wang's Koko Be Good.