Friday, January 23, 2015

Julie's Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams

Author: Menna van Praag
Series: None
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher/
Genre:  Magical Realism
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Easy to get lost in and not want to leave this highly enjoyable novel
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires. Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams is a perfectly lovely novel to sit with in front of a fire and devour. Unfortunately, I couldn't do just that but I did devour it; hungrily. The story focuses on Etta, Cora, and Walt and their quest to find love or in Etta's case to try to forget it. Cora is oblivious to life going on around her. The only thing Cora cares about is fulfilling her parents dream or finding a grain that can grow anywhere. She has been going to Walt's bookshop for years but barely acknowledges him other than requesting her espresso and slice of cherry pie.

Walt, on the other hand, has been in love with Cora since he was a kid and first laid eyes on her. He's been hooked every since. He's just too shy to say anything to her about how he feels.

Etta is magic. Her dress shop helps women see who they want to be and have the power to be whatever that might be. You see Etta weaves in a bit of magic after a dress has picked the women. The problem is that her own magic doesn't work on her; so she's been lovelorn for 50 years. Etta decides that it's time for Cora to open her heart and for Walt to learn how to speak what he feels, so she meddles. Of course it doesn't work the way she thinks it will but that's ok because it allows both Cora and Walt to discover themselves.

It's not that I couldn't see where the story was going but it was the ride. The ride was magical, lovely and comforting. Ms. van Praag has a wonderful way of making her characters come off the page and frankly I wanted Etta as my grandmother. Were there times when I got frustrated with Cora and Walt, yes but I kind of figured that was part of their growth plan.

I have The House at the End of Hope Street on my shelf and will be pulling it off sooner rather than later. She also has a book coming out later this year, The Witches of Cambridge, which looks enticing as well.

If you are looking for a quick book that will warm your heart and soul, look no further than The Dress Shop of Dreams.



Michelle S January 24, 2015 at 7:54 PM  

I still feel like I should have read this one. I like comforting. I need comforting.

Julie January 26, 2015 at 9:38 AM  

You can still read it. It's winter book for She Reads so you have until March I think.

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