Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Dress Shop of Dreams

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
Published by Ballantine Books
30th December 2014
Hardback Edition

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.

I first discovered Menna van Praag earlier this year when I read the delightful The House at the end of Hope Street which I reviewed here.  Her latest offering is out at the end of December and it's as equally wonderful.
The Dress Shop of Dreams centres around Etta, the shop owner, who sews a little bit of magic into every dress that is sold, her orphaned scientist granddaugher Cora, and the man who owns the bookshop further down the road Walt.  Cora loves Walt, and Walt loves Cora, but they don't know that yet and it's going to take a bit more than a sprinkling of magic to bring them together.  Coupled with this is the mystery of the fire that killed Cora's parents some twenty years ago, and the attractive, separated policeman Henry, who comes along to help work out what happened, as well as to add some drama into Cora's linear thinking life.

This book reminded me a little of The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin Mckean which isn't a bad thing as I enjoyed that too.  Despite being set in England though, in my head the characters were all American and living in the USA - albeit one that features Oxford University!

If you haven't discovered Menna van Praag yet, and you love a bit of magical realism in your life and in your stories, then I heartily recommend checking her out.  I raced though The Dress Shop of Dreams and closed it with a smile of happiness on my face and within.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x


  1. This sounds magical, and as Cambridge is only a 25 minute drive from me I just feel utterly compelled to read it. Thank you for sharing.

    1. And the good news is Tracy that Menna says she might have a UK publisher so look out for this over here soon! X


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