I've just bought my fourth copy of this -- second-hand -- from amazon, because I've given the other three away as presents to friends. It's such a lovely book -- hence the fact that I want my friends to read it -- so why is it out of print? I'm sure I'm not the only reader who returns, over and over again, to Paul Gallico's story of Ada Harris, a London cleaning lady who scrimps and saves in order to buy herself a Dior dress from Paris (hence the alternative title in American editions: Mrs 'Arris Goes To Paris).
It's one of the most evocative books I've ever read about the emotions threaded through our clothes -- about how what we wear on the outside is sometimes an indication of what lies beneath (which is a theme of my previous book, "My Mother's Wedding Dress"). The Dior dress cannot transform Mrs Harris back into a young girl -- 'the creation worked no miracles, except in her soul' -- but a kind of magic is nevertheless woven into its seams, and survives the material damage wreaked on its fabric, so that by the end of the story, "Mrs Harris hugged the dress to her thin bosom, hugged it hard as though it were alive and human..."
Now, I'm off to bed, to re-read it for the twentieth time -- and it never fails to make me laugh, and also tug at my heart.