Synopses & Reviews
A deeply touching Southern story filled with struggle and hope.
Emmalee Bullard and her new baby are on their own. Or so she thinks, until Leona Lane, the older seamstress who sat by her side at the local shirt factory where both women worked as collar makers, insists Emmalee come and live with her. Just as Emmalee prepares to escape her hardscrabble life in Red Chert holler, Leona dies tragically. Grief-stricken, Emmalee decides she’ll make Leona’s burying dress, but there are plenty of people who don't think the unmarried Emmalee should design a dress for a Christian woman - or care for a child on her own. But with every stitch, Emmalee struggles to do what is right for her daughter and to honor Leona the best way she can, finding unlikely support among an indomitable group of seamstresses and the town’s funeral director. In a moving tale exploring Southern spirit and camaraderie among working women, a young mother will compel a town to become a community.
Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content
"Emmalee Bullard pays tribute to the dead in a peculiar way--fashioning large wooden crosses together for each member of her community who passes away. When she drops out of school, this craftiness helps land her a job sewing collars at the Tennewa Dressmaking Factory, where she befriends her boss and mentor Leona Lane. One day Emmalee goes into work with stomach pains only to learn she is pregnant later when goes into labor. Forced to live with her abusive father, Emmalee and her newborn's future is bleak until Leona offers up a room her and her husband's trailer for them to stay. In an unfortunate twist of fate the very next day, Leona and her husband die in a car accident. Emmalee mourns the loss of her friend by making her a burial dress , requiring her to leave the baby with estranged relatives for a day. A decision that lands Emmalee in a nasty custody battle with family, and forces her to divulge the controversial identity of the baby's father. Gilmore (The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove) tactfully draws parallels between the two main characters, Leona's life and Emmalee's present a classic formula that makes for dynamic characters. The friendship between these two protagonists serves as a streak of light in this mainly morbid tale. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
SUSAN GREGG GILMORE is the author of the novels Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen and The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove. She has written for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor. Born in Nashville, she lives in Tennessee with her husband and three daughters.
Reading Group Guide
Please note: In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel—as well as the ending. If you have not finished reading The Funeral Dress, we respectfully suggest that you may want to wait before reviewing this guide.