Picture Book Snob
A stylish story set in 18th century Ireland
The Townhouse: Lady Powerscourt's Disappearing Dress by Shireen Marcus and Tarsila Krüse
Powerscourt Townhouse is one of my favourite buildings in Dublin city. Originally a home in the 1700's, it's now an elegant shopping centre. I'll never forget seeing it for the first time as a child, when taken there for lunch one day in December. I was mesmerised by the twinkling fairy lights and the tinkling piano at its heart, where a pianist sat playing Christmas music.
Written by Shireen Marcus, a French teacher who is also a tour guide in Powerscourt Townhouse, this book is inspired by the wealthy family who once lived there. When Lady Powerscourt's latest dress arrives from Paris, her children decide to take it on an adventure. This is an interesting exploration of childhood long ago, and we see that the young people of the past were as mischievous and playful as they are now. Society might change, but children do not!
There are so many beautiful period details in the wonderful illustrations and I love how animated they are. The images are full of fun and incredibly cute and add even more humour to the text. The rosy-cheeked characters are adorable and so are their pets. I love Lady Powerscourt's dress and you can almost feel its luxurious fabric and hear it rustling as you read.
This book was published by the Powerscourt Centre who also commissioned one of Ireland's leading bespoke fashion designers, Synan O’Mahony, to recreate the story's ‘disappearing dress.’ The showstopping design is 4ft wide and an exaggerated version of an 18th century dress. It's displayed on the ground floor of the townhouse, now the Powerscourt Centre, for all passers-by to enjoy.
With a double-page spread of facts about life in 18th century Ireland, this story is as informative as it in entertaining. An attractive hardback - even the endpapers are exquisite - this would make a fabulous gift. The Townhouse is a delightfully quaint and whimsical story. It's a lovely tribute to a city centre landmark and as captivating as any of Lady Powerscourt's eye-catching outfits.
The Townhouse: Lady Powerscourt's Disappearing Dress can be purchased from Article in the Powerscourt Centre
About Powerscourt Townhouse: Formally, 59 South William Street was home to Richard Wingfield 3rd Viscount Powerscourt (1744-1788) and his wife Lady Amelia, who bought the townhouse to entertain guests during Parliament season. Designed by Robert Mack, the townhouse took 3 years to complete at a cost of €80,000 and is the third finest Georgian House in Dublin, with the magnificent Leinster House and Charlemont House leading respectively. The Lord and Lady Powerscourt spared no expense in decorating the house and employed well know artists and craftsmen.
In order to dazzle their guests the hallway and landing were decorated in a rococo style and the ceiling in the music room, and in the ballroom are in a neo classical style. Read more and see photos of the townhouse today on the Powerscourt Centre website
The Irish Georgian Society's mission is to conserve, protect and foster an interest and a respect for Ireland’s architectural heritage and decorative arts. Read more about the Irish Georgian Society and how you can support them on their website
Read an interview with author Shireen Marcus about how her experience as a tour guide inspired her to write a children's book
Read about the launch of this book by award-winning Irish film director Lenny Abrahamson
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