This is part of a series of posts about the shortlist for the 2015 BBC National Short Story Award.
Invited to her cousin’s wedding – but “not maid of honour, not even a bridesmaid” – a young woman determines to take a private revenge by wearing a dress that will subtly outshine the bride and annoy that side of the family. Unable to find something suitable in the shops, she decides to make her own in secret. The trouble is that, no matter what method she tries, she can’t quite get the hang of it.
There were times when I found Leviston’s first-person narration a little over-egged (that is, more like a writer’s voice than a character’s), especially in comparison to the snappier rhythms of the contemporary dialogue. But I guess you could also take the view that it creates a contrast between the narrator’s interior and exterior life, in a story which is all about breaking down emotional barriers. The protagonist’s relationship with her mother is transformed through the act of making this dress, leading to the kind of symbolic patterning for which I always have a soft spot in fiction.
Listen to a reading of ‘Broderie Anglaise’
Anthology details (Foyles affiliate link)
The BBC National Short Story Award 2015, Comma Press paperback