The Funeral Dress: A Novel (Paperback)

The Funeral Dress: A Novel By Susan Gregg Gilmore Cover Image


A deeply touching Southern story filled with struggle and hope.

Emmalee Bullard and her new baby are on their own. Or so she thinks, until Leona Lane, the older seamstress who sat by her side at the local shirt factory where both women worked as collar makers, insists Emmalee come and live with her. But just as Emmalee prepares to escape her hardscrabble life in Red Chert Holler, Leona dies tragically. 

Grief-stricken, Emmalee decides she’ll make Leona’s burying dress. There are plenty of people who don't think the unmarried Emmalee should design a dress for a Christian woman--or care for a child on her own--but with every stitch, Emmalee struggles to do what is right for her daughter and to honor Leona the best way she can, finding unlikely support among an indomitable group of seamstresses and the town’s funeral director. In a moving tale exploring Southern spirit and camaraderie among working women, a young mother will compel a town to become a community.

Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content

About the Author

Susan Gregg Gilmore is the author of the novels Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen and The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove.  She has written for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor. Born in Nashville, she lives in Tennessee with her husband and three daughters.

Praise For…

“I rarely describe a book as being “beautiful” but The Funeral Dress really is just that. It’s beautiful. It hits you hard, builds you up, and hugs your soul.” –

“With The Funeral Dress, Gilmore—a former Nashville resident who now lives in Chattanooga—does her finest work to date, perfectly capturing the rhythm and music of the small-town Southern vernacular… This is a simple, quiet story about family ties, life’s disappointments, the daily struggle it takes to persevere, and the ways women support one another when times are tough, especially in the hard work of child-rearing. It’s also a story about gifts: those Emmalee discovers in herself and those—like compassion and comfort—that her pain unexpectedly reveals in others.” –

“A tender, graceful novel that addresses questions of class and social isolation… Gilmore imbues her story with a deep compassion for the lives of the working poor while offering a vivid picture of factory life and the sense of community it inspired among its workers.” Booklist

“A young woman in Appalachia battles poverty, discrimination and her own insecurity in this moving and memorable novel…A revelatory novel that offers an evocative account of the lives of Appalachian working women.” Kirkus

“Beloved writer Susan Gregg Gilmore takes a huge leap forward with her new novel The Funeral Dressthat rare book which is not only a book club natural and a page-turning "great read," but a stunning, serious literary work which ought to be up for every award out there. Its themes of rural poverty, class, and working women's hard lives are balanced by the bonds of community and love. The Funeral Dress is a lovely, memorable novel. So go ahead and buy two copiesone for yourself, and one for your best friend.” —Lee Smith, author of Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger
"This story of a young female textile worker encountering adversity in a small southern town reveals the remarkable power of friendship, community, and the gift of sewing. A vivid tribute to the efforts of a courageous band of sisters." —Rachel Simon, author of The Story Of Beautiful Girl and Riding The Bus With My Sister
“Susan Gregg Gilmore’s The Funeral Dress is a rare and wonderful glimpse into lives and friendships among blue collar working women in America.” —Fannie Flagg, author of Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven

Product Details
ISBN: 9780307886217
ISBN-10: 0307886212
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2013
Pages: 368
Language: English