The Black Dress by Deborah Moggach

The Black Dress is a darkly humorous tale of the destabilising effects of grief and loneliness on sixty-nine-year-old Pru, after her husband leaves her suddenly and ends their marriage. At times it seems she misses being half of a couple,and the resulting social life, rather than him specifically. She is bereft and very lonely, and for a while goes off the rails. She buys a little black dress from a charity shop and gatecrashes funerals where men have recently lost their partners. What follows will make you cringe and laugh in equal measure. Deborah Moggach writes with heart-breaking honesty about life as an older woman as she has done in many of her previous books.

The story is told entirely from Pru’s point of view – we are inside her head – but she is a fairly unreliable narrator so we should take what she says with a pinch of salt. The pace is uneven, and it is quite hard to pigeonhole The Black Dress into any specific genre, but the twist at the end is very satisfying. This is not her best book, but it is well written and would make for an interesting discussion at a book group. Thanks to Headline and Bookends for a copy to review.