In One Word

In One Word, The Prince and The Dressmaker by Jen Wang is…

prince and the dressmaker

  • Published in 2018 by First Second
  • Format: Paperback
  • Reading Time: 2 adorable days


  • Realised that I’m not reading my current novels quick enough so it’s back to another graphic novel for the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge. This is one I’ve had on my TBR for over a year and follows Sebastian, the prince who lives by his parents’ traditional expectations by day and takes the Paris fashion scene by storm as his alter-ego, Lady Crystallia, by night, and Frances, an obscure but brilliant seamstress who creates Lady Crystallia’s fabulous wardrobe. While Sebastian loves all the dresses she makes for him and Frances loves seeing her work put to such good use, she still wishes she could take the credit for her work. Especially when it’s creating such a stir.
  • A great pair of main characters that are very easy to fall in love with. Sebastian is a great genderfluid (sorry if that’s not the right term) character and the author portrays that very well in the scene where he says, sometimes, he feels like a prince and, at others, a princess. Frances is great too. She’s kind but has her limits and she has a daring streak just screaming to be let out on a dressmaker’s mannequin. Both get excellent character development as they struggle to reconcile what they want to be with what other people expect them to be. I think what let the book down slightly was some of the side characters. The author did a good job with the parents, averting the one-dimension ‘hate-anything-that-isn’t-normal’ stereotype, and with some of the girls Sebastian’s parents throw his way. I felt more could have been done with Juliana and Marcel, though, and that they were disposed of a bit too quickly.
  • Dresses are spectacular, of course. The designs are all wonderfully drawn and definitely could have come out of a highly stylised fashion magazine at the time. The art style is great too. Just like the story, it’s somewhere in between realistic and cartoony. The characters are all very expressive and there are some fantastically funny expressions.
  • It follows a classic double-life sort of tale full of opportunities for comedic moments such as the troubles of what to do when presented with a swimming pool and how to balance both lives without wearing one’s self out. Not to mention, the pressure Sebastian is under to choose a bride. There’s many elements of a Cinderella story right from the beginning but it definitely doesn’t follow that old formula. It did a good job of keeping me guessing on where the story was going to go too. It averted all the lazy plot twists and managed to keep my interest throughout.
  • Anachronisms are probably all over the place but this is not the sort of book you overthink. It’s an escapist fantasy that just happens to include a genderfluid main character. You just read it and enjoy the aesthetic of this ‘modern age’, slightly fantastical Paris with plenty of princesses and fashion designers in easy reach.
  • Never felt like Frances was being selfish when she said she wanted to be recognised for her work. It would have been so easy to make her appear to be self-centred and taking advantage of her friend but the friendship between them was so well-developed that the thought never crossed my mind.
  • The book gets a five star rating just for leaving me with a smile on my face. It’s more of a 4.5 stars because I think the ending, though very sweet, felt a little too easily won. I felt the author could have shown a bit more of the hostility Sebastian is so afraid of rather than just describing it. Still, it might have turned this book into a dark place that didn’t suit the tone and it’s not a book that should be taken too seriously.

Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Did you agree with my rating? Can you think of a better word to describe it? Please let me know with a like, share or comment.

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