Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams

The Dress Shop of Dreams: A NovelAuthor: Menna Van Praag
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Ballantine Books

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.

No, these women are looking for much more than that; they are looking for a lost piece of themselves. Which is exactly what Etta Sparks can give them.

Now Etta knows that great love only comes once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky.

A simple, ordinary day, made special and extraordinary by first love and first words.

It’s a great shame, she thinks, that the heart cannot feel joy without also feeling pain, that it cannot know love without also knowing loss.

I have been a fan of Alice Hoffman ever since I became entranced with her novel, Practical Magic. The magical realism genre is full of intrigue and sweet, cozy stories. I discovered Menna Van Praag’s newest book and was reminded of Hoffman’s mystical and engaging magical tales. This book is full of romance, mystery, magic, and so much more. A lot of the book takes place in Etta’s dress shop where she has the ability to set free a woman’s deepest desires. Etta hopes to unleash some of her magic on her granddaughter Cora who cannot see the love that is directly in front of her. This novel contains four different love stories, told from varying perspectives, all while Cora is trying to solve her parent’s murder mystery. There is a little something for all in this book!

The characters in this story are all connected in one way or other and they are all rich and complicated and have obstacles they are facing in life. There are sad moments in the lives of these characters, but there are moments of extreme joy as well. I was completely enamored with this story and all of its original details. Menna has become of my favorite authors. Just like Alice Hoffman, I vow to read whatever she releases next. Her writing is breathtaking and is sure to make a believer out of you!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Ballantine in exchange for my honest review***

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