Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

From Goodreads:  Dora has always taken the path of least resistance. She went to the college that offered her a scholarship, is majoring in "vagueness studies," and wears whatever shows the least dirt. She falls into a job at the college coffee shop, and a crush on her flirty boss, Gary.

Just when she's about to test Gary's feelings, Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke. Dora rushes back home to Forsyth, NC, and finds herself running her grandmother's vintage clothing store. The store has always been a fixture in Dora's life; though she grew up more of a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of girl, before she even knew how to write, Mimi taught her that a vintage 1920s dress could lift a woman's spirit.

While working there, Dora befriends Mimi's adorable contractor, Conrad. Is he after Dora, or is working from a different blueprint? And why did Mimi start writing down--and giving away--stories of the dresses in her shop?

When Mimi dies, Dora can't get out of town fast enough and cedes control of the store to her money-hungry aunt who wants to turn it into a t-shirt shop for tourists. But ultimately, she returns to Forsyth, willing to battle whatever may stand in the way of her staying there. Dora can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants?

From Heather:   Let me start out by saying I LOVE the cover of this book!  I don't know if it's the colors (probably!) or the composition or what, but the cover totally drew me to the book!  (Have I mentioned that I LOVE a well-done book cover?)  I also loved the idea that there is a story to each of the vintage dresses in the shop.  Have you ever wondered what vintage clothes have seen in their lifetimes?  Who has worn them?  What were they like?  It's an interesting idea!  I love old things, and wish that they actually DID come with background stories!

I really liked the Dora for the most part.  She starts out kind of listless - she does whatever comes along, wears whatever she has and goes to school just to go to school.  She heads back to her hometown as soon as she learns that her grandmother, who raised her after her parents died, has had a stroke.  Through her grief for her grandmother, she finds something that she is passionate about.  She also finds someONE to be passionate about as well in her grandmother's friend Con.  (One complaint about the book - where did she come up with the names?  Dora and Con are NOT my favorite names!)  I really, really liked Con.  He was compassionate and kind at a time when that was just what Dora needed. 

I loved Mimi, even though she has just had a stroke and is unresponsive throughout the book.  The things she teaches Dora, even without saying a word, are priceless.  I wish I had a grandma like Mimi!

I really, really liked this book.  I would have given it 5 stars, but one of the friends at Mimi's shop has a bit of a mouth on her and will break out in profanities for no particular reason at all.  That always kind of bothers me, especially when it comes out on nowhere and serves no purpose whatsoever.  :)  That being said, I give it a solid 4 stars.  


Misty Moncur said...

Wow, that sounds really good. Did you get it at the library?

Heather said...

Yup! And I think you would probably really like it! :)

Jillian said...

Great review! Thanks you for sharing.