I saved Menna Van Praag's newest novel, The Dress Shop of Dreams, to read on the Christmas week holiday. It's the time of the year when I crave feel good reads - and this was a perfect choice.
Cora Sparks is a no nonsense scientist. Orphaned at a young age, she was raised by her grandmother Etta. Now, Etta is a dressmaker, but her shop is unlike any other you've ever visited....there's more than cloth and thread woven into her creations....
"Wear this dress and you'll find what you're missing: confidence, courage, power, love, beauty, magnificence....I promise. Wear this dress and it will transform your life."
But up until now, the two lives Etta hasn't been able to change are Cora's and Walt's. Walt owns the bookstore across the way from the dress shop - and has been in love with Cora since they were both children.
All the elements are here for a magical read - including the magic. I loved the descriptions of Etta's shop and the dresses. How wonderful would it be if a few stitches could change things! And wonderful to lose yourself for a few hours between the pages of that possibility.
Although happy endings are expected (and achieved) with this genre, the road there is not without bumps and turns. Van Praag puts her own unique twist on this story, as there's a mystery to go along with the romance and magic. The character I was most taken with was Walt. I think I wanted to visit his bookstore - or work there. And the descriptions of his late night reading also drew me to him. Although I quite liked Etta as well, but her backstory was quite sad.
This was a delightful little read perfect for my pajamas and comfy chair on a snowy day!
Fans of Sarah Addison Allen (another favourite writer of mine in this genre) will enjoy The Dress Shop of Dreams - read an excerpt. You can keep up with Menna Van Praag on Facebook and on Twitter.