BOOK REVIEWS

The Prince and the Dressmaker Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-07-04 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:1250159857
LANGUAGE:English

" Wonderful <3CW: fear of transphobia, Prince Sebastian is outed against his will, people don’t take it well at first. (But everyone comes around and what happens next is magnificent.) " said.

" THIS IS BEAUTIFUL AND I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT " said.

" this was the cutest thing??? oh my god! just.. i loved everything about it!!!!! " said.

"This one I'm going to have to buy. I finished it in about an hour and I've been flipping through it over and over ever since. There's something so delightful and whimsical about this story of a seamstress with dreams of being a great fashion designer and a prince with dreams of wearing those designs!

So yeah this is a "social issues" book in the sense that the prince likes to wear dresses and has to adopt the secret identity of "Lady Crystallia" so no one finds out but the real story is the friendship (and clearly something more) that develops between Prince Sebastian and Frances, the downtrodden but determined seamstress he secretly hires to design his outfits. As Sebastian gets caught up in his secret identity and Frances starts to feel like she'll have to compromise a lot of her dreams if she wants to become a famous designer its their relationship you get concerned for.

The other amazing thing is how immediately you, as the reader, realize Prince Sebastian's fondness for looking fabulous is absolutely no big deal. I mean I already think its no big deal but he's a completely regular guy aside from the fact that he's really into clothes. Something about Jen Wang's very direct approach really brought me up short with how ridiculous we are about image in our society. What fascinated me though was since I already knew Sebastian was such a terrific guy and a very capable prince who'll make a great king I just knew that everything was going to be okay because it would be so ridiculous if it wasn't. Oh he likes to wear dresses? Cool so do I. I mean seriously Frances is an insane designer who wouldn't want to wear her dresses?

Wang's illustrations are dazzling. Frances's gowns are fanciful confections that any fashion aficionado would kill to wear and there's just a touch of Disney princess happening in the art. Lots of loops and swirls and twirling ladies in big skirts. There's a delightful decadence to the whole book that makes it all feel like a sweet, slightly sinful dessert. Its a book truly filled with real world magic.

So you start rooting for two happy endings. Obviously one is for everyone to realize how liberating it can be to cast off the prescribed roles society puts on us. When you really look at the "rule book" we all live by there is absolutely nothing that says I can't go to work in a duck costume if I want or that my husband can't wear eyeliner and a leather miniskirt to the movies if he wants...that...actually sounds amazing...

woah sorry got distracted there.

But the other happy ending is that beautiful and yes typical one you long for in any fairy tale. You just want these two kids to kiss already!
" said.

"A copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

This is not solely a fluffy feel-good cute story, as many reviews describe it. There are lovely and sweet moments in it, but it also has other things going on that may be difficult and painful for trans and/or non-binary readers.

I enjoyed many things about this YA graphic novel. The art was spectacular, really drew me in. The pacing of the story was lovely, just a bit meditative but still compelling. I really fell for both of the MCs and wanted them to find ways to be happy and successful. I was especially rooting for the dressmaker's success.

I loved all the details about the clothes, and the way the dressmaker thought about clothes, her vision for fashion, how much she cared about it. I liked watching her bloom as she had more freedom to do what she wanted to do, and felt for her when she was struggling with the realities of being secretive. I loved watching the prince try on the clothes that felt right, those drawings were so evocative and grabbed my heart.

The prince is genderfluid, I think? It's not completely clear. I'm going to use they/them pronouns to refer to the prince because I'm pretty sure they are non-binary, and the story doesn't happen in a setting where they would have access to neutral pronouns.

There are some really lovely moments where the prince feels seen and supported in their gender, gets excited about presenting feminine, gets celebrated in a gender that they thought they would never be celebrated in. I really appreciated these moments. They were lovely and touching and hit me in the feels.

Unfortunately, for much of the story, the prince is closeted and feels like their non-binary gender is ruining their life and that they can never really be themself and be a monarch. I found the misery and self loathing painful to read, as a non-binary reader.

And then the prince gets deliberately outed as someone who wears dresses, with a series of very classic transmisogynistic tropes. I found this sequence in the story very difficult to read. I am very tired of trans and/or non-binary characters in YA getting outed.

Given the context of the story and it's arc, the happy ending provided felt too easy and pat, and like it was geared much younger than the rest of the story. It basically seemed to present the idea that public performance of acceptance of gender difference would eradicate all transmisogyny and the prince would be free to be themself.

The romance that is included in the happy ending felt unearned, and like it was there to give a reason for the intimacy of the relationship between the prince and their dressmaker, and that made me sad. Supporting someone's gender expression is intimate, and supporting someone to achieve her dream is intimate. This intimacy doesn't need to be romantic, and it felt off to me to frame it as romance.

Trigger warnings: (view spoiler)" said.

" Um quadrinho incrível sobre um príncipe que gosta de usar vestidos e uma garota que sonha em ter seu trabalho como designer de moda reconhecido em Paris. A história tem um ritmo muito gostoso de ler, o final é MARAVILHOSO e a arte da Jen Wang é 10/10. Amei! " said.

"Do not read this if, like me, you are sick and hormonal because you will cry. I bawled like a ridiculous person reading this, like embarrassing uncontrollable sobbing, but at the same time, it made my queer little heart so, so happy. It's the right story at the right time and has the added benefit of being a super good read on its own, with illustrations that fit so well with the story that I can't imagine them apart. Everyone should read this (but wait until you are not emotionally comprised by your stupid body)." said.

"This. Is. ADORABLE!


It's the classic Prince and Peasant story turned on its side with the peon being a dressmaker who has big dreams and the prince secretly being a princess or, more accurately, a society lady.

The dialogue doesn't always flow well or make perfect sense but the illustrations make up for that, filling in blanks left by the words. This looks to be Wang's first all-her-own graphic novel in which she was responsible for the story and drawrings and I feel maybe she just doesn't have the authorship part fully nailed down yet. It won't take long, though; she's a strong storyteller.

I have two complaints.
1) The setting.
The characters use contemporary speech (the prince says "weirded out" at one point) but this is set in 1800's Paris. It may have worked better to put this in a realistic yet imaginary setting, like that of The Princess Diaries so that the language would not interfere with the environment.
2) The romance because that's always my complaint.
I didn't think it was necessary and was maybe even detrimental since it could be inferred that all your dreams can come true but you're never fully complete until you have a romantic partner, which I think is BS. Plus, there just aren't enough stories that feature a strong, healthy female/male friendship and this could have been one of those.
However, there could also be a message of everyone deserves to be loved no matter their station in life or their clothing preferences. I say clothing preferences because the prince's gender identity is not a topic and it seems like he identifies as a prince who is happier wearing princess clothing.

It's a sweet story with darling illustrations featuring a strong female lead who has to decide whether or not to own her power to follow her goals, which may cost her dearly in terms of love, friendship, and financial security and a determined male main character who must either embrace who he is and face ostracism or renounce himself for the sake of his country.
" said.

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