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Literary Friday: The Dress Shop of Dreams

Friday, January 12, 2018

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  During January, I'm sharing the four books I read during Christmas vacation each Literary Friday.  The second book I'm sharing is The Dress Shop of Dreams by MennaVan Praag.  I've read another book by her called The House at the End of Hope Street.  I didn't love the book because I thought the female characters made poor choices, but I did think that it was well-written.  I enjoyed The Dress Shop of Dreams much more.

These are the books I read during Christmas.

According to Goodreads:

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 Review:

I love the premise of this book, and I enjoyed the narrative.  There is just enough magical realism to make me smile.  Cora's Grandmother Etta has a gift: She can sense what a woman needs to improve her life when she walks in her shop.  Then she knows which dress each customer needs, and she sews magical stitches in the dress to ensure success.  I love how the shop changes from season to season (the paint color changes magically).  I also thought it was fun how the shop's music changes as new customers walk in.  It would be fun to put together a playlist of the music mentioned in the book!

Walt is an interesting character.  He has magic of his own through his voice, and he can make stories truly come to life.  After he's finished running his bookshop he has a second job reading classic literature over the radio late at night. This has garnered him hundreds of lovestruck female fans who write him fan letters.  Cora is disinterested in a romantic relationship with Walt until one of these fans gets Walt's attention.  

Although I love this story, especially the storyline about Etta and her past, I feel that Cora's character is a little flat.  Walt has certainly loved her since they were children, and maybe I'm being hyper-critical because it's clear in the book that Cora has been repressing her emotions since the tragic deaths of her parents.  Still, I recommend this book if you like sweet love stories with magical realism and interesting settings.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. This does sound like a sweet book, I love the idea of the paint magically changing colors with the season! I often wish I had the magic nose trick that Samantha of Bewitched had to change things in an instant! Quiet weekend ahead, I'm hoping to fill it with lots of books!

  2. I'm heading to the library early next week to get a selection of books to read, missed my books while we were away. I did have a couple of Kindle books to read, but it just isn't the same as actually holding the book.

  3. Enjoyed the review RJ and it sounds like a sweet book like Jenna says. Your vignette are lovely.......

  4. I have to say I'm a little bit in love with Walt after reading your review. A bookseller who then reads classic lit on the radio? Love ♥

  5. I love how this sounds...I have to find it next time H and I go to the library!

  6. I liked your review very much and it does sound like a sweet book. We definitely need more Walts in this world.

  7. You write the best reviews! Guess what I'm reading right now? Nine Women, One Dress. I almost gave up on it after the first chapter but I remembered you liked it so I kept reading. Now I'm near the end and I HATE for it to end! I am REALLY enjoying it! You get so wrapped up in the lives of these women, don't you? Thanks! Hugs, Diane


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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