Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

Title: The Dress Shop of Dreams
Author: Menna Van Praag
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: Dec 30, 2011
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: This cover is a wash of magic.  From the beautiful dress to the lovely swirling colors. The font stands out without overwhelming the delicate tone.

The Gist:
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.


The Dress Shop of Dreams is a really lovely story.  It is one that you know will wrap up in a happy ending, but the journey to get there is really fun.  All of the characters in this book are well developed and have a touch of magic all their own.  Despite there being rivals for one man's affection, there is a decided lack of girl on girl jealousy that is really refreshing.  Cora is unique in her outlook on the world and her obsessive counting which accompanied the narration just enough to be charming, without becoming tedious.  There are several plot lines that weave through one another in a delightful way and a number of smaller mysteries that are sprinkled throughout the plot.  These helped move the plot along and allowed it to avoid stagnating as we approached the answers to the big mystery - what actually happened to Cora's parents.  That particular plotline was a little disappointing as it was fairly predictable.  Despite a slightly slow start, The Dress Shop of Dreams wrapped up beautifully and left me really satisfied.  I am looking forward to delving into more of Menna Van Praag's world.    


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