Having previously read all Hickman's other works I was eagerly anticipating a good read. I was rewarded. It was wholly different from her previous works but wholly engrossing and entertaining. She takes a subject that is horrifying and scrapes the paint off to show us how healing painfully begins. No, it's not your typical "Christian fiction", but since when does Jesus do everything the same? The book will speak to the lost and hurting and show them the way to the ULTIMATE HEALER.
Patricia Hickman plumbs the depths of family secrets and dysfunction in . This novel, 'Painted Dresses' based on her own experience, exposes the shadows that families hide and the lies they use to protect their pride and later generations from a darkness that would threaten to swallow them whole. It is a heartbreaking tale of discovery and facing the family demons. Yet beyond the heartbreak there is healing and hope for a positive future.Gaylen and Delia are a study in opposites. Where Gaylen is careful, mature and responsible Delia is haphazard, childish and rebellious. Gaylen feels that her life is falling apart around her ears, whereas Delia has an unrealistic impression that Gaylens life is perfect and that Gaylen herself has it all together. Patricia portrays their relationship so realistically that I found it easy to relate the story to my own sibling relationships, because every family has its moments!I loved the way Patricia uses Aunt Amitys painted dresses to propel Gaylen and Delia on their journey, seeking the truths about their family that have long been hidden. It seemed that those works of art gave the family members and friends involved permission to share the secrets that surrounded the dresss inclusion in Amitys collection, thus encouraging Gaylen in her search for the truth.Patricia skillfully draws Painted Dresses to a satisfying conclusion that left me able to imagine both Gaylen and Delia reaching forward towards good things in their futures.
One part Southern Fiction. One part mystery. One part journey of self discovery. Painted Dresses brings all my favorite elements of fiction together in a delicious mix of wounded characters and breath-taking prose. Following her fathers funeral, Gaylen, whose marriage is in ruins, flees the confines of her family with Delia, her impulsive, sometimes annoying sister. In their deceased aunts mountain cottage, they find a collection of painted dresses and embark on a journey to uncover family secrets and the source of Gaylens nightmares. There are delights at every turn as each leg of the journey brings the sisters closer to the truth about their pasts. Painted Dresses is a book to savor for the beautiful writing and to assure the reader of rest and hope even in brokenness. Highly recommended.
I read Painted Dresses with surprise at how well it portrayed real people with problems that mirror those in my family and my neighborhood. My five star rating is for this reason - Patricia Hickman has dared to put the truth that she feels is honest and raw about human frailty onto the written pages - not something whispered at the coffee shop or over the phone line. The Power of story is very individual and what one person thinks is a masterpiece, another doesn't warm to or like and that's okay. God created us all in beautiful individual ways. So too, He works through writers to tell stories that are just that far reaching in their originality - to reach human hearts in different places and seasons. Being human is a messy business and that fact is clear and evident as her character Gaylen tries to shed light and grace on a dark past, to forgive herself in the process, and to find her way home again. Ultimately, I think that's what we all want. God's grace, forgiveness, and a welcoming way to go home.