Elspeth Lorraine

Book Reviews

July 23, 2022

"A Perfect Fit" by Mara Rockliff and Illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal

Lithuania-born Jewish emigrant Lena comes to America with the words of her grandfather "If she could help another person, that would be real success" as her guiding principle in the new country. After refusing an arranged marriage she  finds work in a sewing sweatshop with her sister and discovers her love of fine fabrics, fashion and shiny things. After being widowed with a baby, necessity leads Lena to build her own seamstress shop. Lena excelled at making clothes that didn't "squeeze or pinch" for all sizes and types of women's bodies. She designed clothes and patterns that sewing machines could churn out to make everyone comfortable and happy! Her shops are still open today, known as Lane Bryant.

Bits and Pieces:  I liked the rhythm of the manuscript enough to read it two more times in one sitting. This book had lots to offer. A woman entrepreneur? Check? Divine illustrations? Check. Beautiful, detailed gowns? Check. Gibson Girl hairdos? Checkity check.

Favorite Part: I need to choose two here. First, the illustrations. SWOON. Martinez-Neal used acrylics, colored pencils, pastels, linocuts and fabric on hand textured paper for the spreads and I was enchanted. Second, Lena got nervous at the bank and accidently wrote Lane instead of Lena and that's how the store got it's name. This seems like such an Elspeth level thing to do and I related hard.  Once I misspelled my own name on a whiteboard in front of like 70 adults and I don't even have the second language barrier excuse.

Not Sure About: I should change the name of this section to "What I wanted more of". She and her sister had one of the most beautiful spreads in the book and I really wanted to know what happened to her. Maybe that's just the sister in me.

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