Monday, November 17, 2014

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

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.

My thoughts- 

When there are multiple points of view from the characters in novels, sometimes things get a little too complicated or the author works so hard to give the back story that there just really ends up not being much to the characters overall. That was not the case with The Dress Shop of Dreams. Menna Van Praag did an excellent job of switching effortlessly between several characters throughout the story without losing the story in the midst of it all. I think when a novel interweaves several story lines and several points of view and it is done right, it really adds to the overall gelling of the story.  I think the title of the novel would probably lead people to believe that this is chick-lit, but I found this to be an entertaining contemporary novel that I think both men and women alike will enjoy. There is a little touch of mystery as Cora explores her parents death and learns whether it was really the accident that it seems. There are several love stories interwoven throughout and a little bit of magic that may guide some of that along. I really enjoyed seeing the change in cold, very scientific minded Cora, after some of Etta's magic. Every now and then when I read a book like this, in my head it read's like a play. I feel like I could easily see these characters interacting on the stage and it would flow so well. I love theatre and it takes a special novel to play out in my head specifically like that. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction.

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The Dress Shop of Dreams will be available December 30. You can pre-order it now on

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