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The Dress Shop of Dreams


The Dress Shop of Dreams

Reading THE DRESS SHOP OF DREAMS by Menna van Praag will reignite the spark in all of us who believe in true love prevailing, enchanting dresses, and a bit of magic to give us that push we need to accomplish our goals.

The book is told in the third person yet from multiple characters’ perspectives. However, the story mainly centers on Etta Sparks and her grandmother, Cora Carraway. Etta and her dresses are truly what cause all these events to unfold after years and years. When Etta stitches a small red star into Cora’s t-shirts (she’s not a dress sort of gal), Cora takes off on a mission to find out the truth concerning the death of her brilliant inventor parents nearly 20 years prior, opening herself to feelings and, most importantly, love, while encouraging others along the way to act --- although sometimes they have been for the worse rather than for the better.

"I would recommend THE DRESS SHOP OF DREAMS to anyone wanting a magical, enchanting read with both sorrow and joy, hope and despair."

I was truly charmed by this book and felt that it was in the same girl-power, love-discovering, magical atmosphere as van Praag’s previous novel, THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET, which I absolutely adored. The characters were all so diverse and realistic, each with their own elaborate stories to tell. Each one of them encountered many obstacles, both of the heart and through other close people, even from some who were thought to be well known and entirely uninvolved. This was a very intricate novel with ties linking the characters in the most curious and interesting ways, like a nearly invisible yet resilient web.

My favorite character would have to be Cora. I truly admired her determination, sense of justice, passions, and getting the chance to grow and learn with her on her life-changing journey. I could probably most relate to Walt, as he is a simple man with simple dreams, who loves books, is very observant, and has an amazing hidden talent (I’m still waiting on that last one).

My favorite part was the ending, when I felt that the pieces fell precisely into their rightful places, and everyone, myself included, was content and truly happy. On the flip side, all the times that my beloved characters had to endure incredibly unfortunate incidences was my least favorite part. Still, I honestly wouldn’t change a thing, although I would’ve liked to learn a bit more about a few of the lesser characters’ pasts.

I would recommend THE DRESS SHOP OF DREAMS to anyone wanting a magical, enchanting read with both sorrow and joy, hope and despair. Overall this is a great novel for any reader who enjoys romance, mystery, a mild thriller, an inspiring story, and contemporary fiction all wrapped into one.

Reviewed by Sara J. on January 16, 2015

The Dress Shop of Dreams
by Menna van Praag

  • Publication Date: December 30, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0804178984
  • ISBN-13: 9780804178983