The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, 290 pp, RL 5
This Review Originally Appeared on March 9, 2018
I fell in love with Jen Wang's work years ago when I read her adult graphic novel Koko Be Good. I was new to graphic novels and still hadn't realized that graphic novels for adults didn't have to have super heroes in them and was completely enchanted by the story of a happy drifter living in San Francisco. Again, with In Real Life written by Cory Doctorow, I was enchanted by Anda, a plump teen who lives through the massively-multiplayer role playing game she spends all her free time on. Now, with The Prince and the Dressmaker, Wang has given the world a fairy tale for any age. Prince Sebastian and Frances are two characters to be enchanted by in this "exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art and family."
Set in fin de siècle Paris, Frances is a seamstress waiting to become the brilliant dressmaker she is. Prince Sebastian is turning sixteen and his parents are determined to find him a bride. Following the client's orders, Frances creates a dress that is both an abomination and an avant garde success, drawing the attention of a very wealthy new client who wants a personal dressmaker and a wardrobe full of shocking, amazing gowns.
Frances meets her benefactor, and, despite the disguise, the two bond over their mutual love of dramatic design. When Frances accidentally learns that her benefactor is a boy who likes to wear dresses, it bother her in the least. Frances agrees to keep Prince Sebastian's secret, knowing that this dream job could lead to future success. Donning the name Lady Crystallia, Sebastian (and Frances) take the Paris nightlife by storm.
As their friendship deepens, opportunities arise for Frances and challenges for Prince Sebastian. When Lady Crystallia's true identity is revealed to the court, things seem hopeless for Prince Sebastian and Frances. But, being a fairy tale, Wang delivers a deeply satisfying happy ending that had me a little weepy. As Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel and Compass South) said in her fantastic blurb for this book, " The Prince and the Dressmaker is like a best friend: sometimes it takes you shopping, and sometimes it makes you cry, but it always loves you just the way you are."
Also by Jen Wang
Source: Review Copy