One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!
‘The Dress Shop of Dreams’ by Menna Van Praag contains four overlapping love stories. It’s love with a little ‘fairy dust.’ The only magic in the book – and just a tiny bit at the very beginning- changes the course of the life of the individuals on which it is bestowed. But this change is something that could have happened anyway with no nothing more than courage. And so, this book becomes a study in what-ifs, as the reader is encouraged to think how a small step in a direction can create monumental changes.
Cora’s grandmother Etta, who owns a magical dress shop where women can find their hearts’ desires, decides it’s way past time for Cora to learn to feel again after the loss of her parents twenty years before. She works her sewing magic on her granddaughter and waits for the inevitable flood of emotions to arrive, especially Cora’s long-suppressed love for Walt, her childhood friend and owner of the bookstore where Cora has spent many hours happily reading, oblivious to Walt’s feelings for her. Walt starts reading Jane Austen novels at night on the radio, which brings him to the attention of Milly, a widow trying to mend her own broken heart, and Dylan, the radio-station manager who starts writing to Milly under Walt’s name. Meanwhile Cora seeks out the aid of police detective Henry to help her solve the mystery of her parents’ deaths, all while Henry pines for his ex-wife, Francesca, who harbors a terrible secret. And though Etta has set things motion with a few stitches of red thread, she can’t seem to work her magic on herself and her long-lost love. At the heart of the novel are two very different concepts–dreams and reality….and can they actually exist together?
Van Praag has a deliciously innate capability to weave the totality of characters of The Dress Shop of Dreams into a compelling tale. Each character’s lives touching the other’s, causing things to happen so that love, and ultimately healing can begin. Van Praag cracks the code that deciphers magical fate when it comes to couture, storytelling, and the complexities of love.
Click here to see my goals for 2015