Crumbcatchers and sperm donation

the book:

The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell

published 2011


She turned a corner and found herself opposite the Brunswick Centre. She smiled, as the irresistible lure of unknown shops therein called to her. Inside the centre she found a dress shop called, rather aptly, Joy. Her eye was immediately caught by a flame-coloured dress hanging in the window. It was shiny, a kind of orange-red, with a crumb-catcher bodice and a full skirt. It would be perfect for Nush’s nineteenth the following month. With a beaded cardi over and her strappy gold platforms. £89.99, though. Where was she going to get £ 90 from?

[later] He’d bought her a gift. She pulled her shoulders back and began to unfurl the ribbons, peel back the paper. Inside was a cube of fabric, burnt orange, shot taffeta. She unfolded the cube and revealed a dress. The dress. The flame-coloured one she’d admired in the window of that shop all those weeks ago, just before she met Jack, when her life had felt normal and set on a predictable though dazzling course. She’d talked herself out of buying it with her birthday money. And now here it was, in her lap. The same dress.

observations: I didn’t know what a crumbcatcher bodice was, and trying to find a definition of it was difficult – apart from Wiki saying that a cummerbund was a crumbcatcher. But thanks to the glories of Google Images you can find hundreds of pictures of them – it’s quite an ugly name for a pretty style, and one that seems hugely featured on wedding and bridesmaid dresses. You wouldn’t say it was clear from the cover of this book, above, so we have generously found a nice close-up from a bridal shop.

The book is about the results of sperm donation. One man turns out to have fathered four different children - in the manner of novels, everybody decides to get together, there is heartbreak and sunshine and some tears, and a tiny mystery about who is the fourth child. The issues raised in this book are mind-bending, and handled very well, and some of the writing is excellent. The plot veers between chicklit, romcom and sheer fairytale. The bit where – SPOILER – one character loses the love of her life only to find that, luckily, he has an identical twin brother is the kind of thing Dickens might have come up with on a bad day. The character above, with the Prince Charming giving her the right dress (on what planet…?), has moments where she nearly turns into a real person with real problems and believable responses, but then she drifts back…

But it’s a quick holiday-type read, and it actually does make you think about the implications of sperm donation.

Links up with: There’s a teenager hoping for a party dress
here, and these young women share their taffeta dress.

The cover of the book is from amazon, the bodice is part of a bridesmaid’s dress offered by


  1. Moira - Oh, that does sound like a fun read, even if it does - erm - stretch the imagination a little... ;-). And I never knew the name for that sort of bodice - thanks for that.


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