For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.
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.
Paperback, 336 pages
Expected publication: December 30th 2014 by Ballantine Books
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Four and a half stars: A delightful, magical, romantic read. A must read for fans of magical realism.
Cora awakens from the same recurring dream she has had over and over since her parents died on her fifth birthday. Cora shakes it off and proceeds about her day. As a scientist, Cora has little time for dreams, magic and love, unlike her grandmother, Etta. Etta runs a delightful, magical dress shop where she is able to help women find their heart's desire with the perfect gown and a few stitches for encouragement. Etta struggles though when it comes time to help her own granddaughter find her heart, and in the process, Etta might just recover her own. Can the dress shop of dreams deliver love?
What I Liked:
- What a relief to find such a charming, feel good book with pinches of magic thrown in to spark the imagination. I was in the middle of a major reading slump before picking this one up, and I was thrilled that his book delivered such a lovely story. I enjoyed every minute of it. If you adore magical realism books with romance, get this one. I highly recommend it,
- I loved the magical dress shop. It was a place I would love to visit with all of its colorful gowns, changing music and silk lined walls that transform with the season. It screamed cozy and wonderful. I also liked Walt's little bookstore and longed to go there and lose myself in the stacks of book while sampling cherry pie. Loved the settings!
- This book features not one, but four different romances. I was a bit surprised, but pleased to uncover the additional romances. The main romance is centered around Cora and her childhood friend Walt. Walt has loved Cora from the moment he met her as a child, but Cora's heart has been closed off and frozen due to her parent's death. It will take some magic to make Cora open her eyes, and when she does will it be too late? I think my favorite romance, though, was the long, unrequited romance between Etta and The Saint. A romance that spanned over fifty years of longing. Loved it. The second and third romances were interesting and wonderful as well. I loved exploring the different romances and their themes.
- Aside from the magic and romance there is a bit of a mystery in this one as Cora strives to uncover the truth about her parents death. I loved how the author connected all the characters and how everything fell into place. I was never bored for a moment with this one.
- The Dress Shop of Dreams was a delightful tale with magic, romance, and a bit of mystery. I adored the characters, the dress shop and I appreciated the tight plot. This was the perfect pick me up read, and it helped cure me of a major reading slump. This is an excellent book for winter reading.
- The writing was outstanding. I loved the way the author engaged all my senses. Her descriptions are detailed and rich. I was enchanted by the writing.
And The Not So Much:
- While I loved that there were several story lines going on, I was a bit frustrated with the way the book was laid out. It is a story with multiple view points, and though I didn't have issues with the character shifts, I didn't like that often the change occurred from one paragraph to the next. It bothers me when I am reading one character's view point and find it shifts to someone else in the next paragraph. The end portion of the book gets too chaotic with the quick transitions.
- I thought Etta's magical dress shop was delightful, but I was curious to know more about how Etta came by her gift and how she ended up opening the shop after her heartbreak. How did she know which stitches would work their magic? I thought this part of the story needed a touch more detail.
- I struggled with Milly's character. It wasn't that I didn't like her, because I found that as her story unwound, I felt compassion for her, I think my issue stemmed from the fact that she was introduced as a love interest for one of the men who I knew was destined to be with another, so I kept wanting her out of the picture. Luckily, Milly finds her own romance in an unexpected way, and I liked it. So I got over my issues with her.
- The book builds up these four different romances, and I grew more eager as the pages dwindled to see how each couple would get their ending. I was hoping for lots of feel good moments. While I did get some sweet, happy ever after scenes, I felt that all the romance endings were rushed. Just as each couple got to that one magical moment, the story shifted. I wanted more, more more.... I almost think there should be another book. Still all the loose ends are tied off and I wasn't left with lingering questions.
The Dress Shop of Dreams was a lovely book that was brimming with sweet romance, a pinch of magic, some mystery and an overall great story. I highly recommend this book for those of you who love magical realism and are looking for something light and feel good. This was just what I needed.
"I know that a heart can hold on for a lifetime, hoping for the impossible, loving, wanting what if will never have. "
"If two herts truly love each other then they always will, even when they are apart. Unless they both let go. But if one holds on then it's because the other one hasn't yet let it go either."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.