‘Every family has shadow people, the ones who slipped out of the story too soon, leaving a blank space where they should have been. In my father’s family that person was his sister Kathleen.’
So begins Heather Richardson’s astonishing fragmentary celebration of her aunt, Kathleen Hutchinson, whose life was cut tragically short aged just 14. It is the early days of WW2 and Kathleen has just left school to start her first job at a linen mill. But this dark and cold December night she doesn’t make it home.
Originally stitched into the fabric of a dress, Kathleen’s life is presented here as a book for the first time. In the process, Heather Richardson also tells the stories of Kathleen’s parents and their lives together in rural Northern Ireland in the first half of the 20th Century.
A Dress For Kathleen is a labour of love from niece to the aunt she never met. Every sentence sparkles. Heather Richardson’s masterpiece is a poetic portrait in prose and one of the finest books you will read this year.
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