Title: The Dress Shop of Dreams Author: Menna van Praag Expected Publication: December 30th 2014 by Ballantine Books Format: eBook; Paperback, 336 pages Genre: Magical Realism Source: Netgalley
Magical Realism, not a genre I am familiar with or one that I intentionally went looking for, but that is what I found from the first page of this book. I found myself sinking into the lives of Cora and all those that entered the little dress shop, a place of wonder that just seemed to know the right music to play when a person walked through the door.
At first, I was not too sure how everyone fit together, but as the story went along, I realized that I was reading a braid. I know that sound funny, but all the couples, or the people that should have been couples were interwoven in the most curious of ways.
Cora Carraway – Orphaned as a young girl and was raised by her grandmother in the dress shop. She has grown into a brilliant scientist who is now questioning the death of her parents. She spends her days lost in her own world where the only constant is numbers.
Ella Sparks – Cora’s grandmother. The owner of the dress shop, on All Saints’ Passage, who spends her days sewing beautiful dresses that make the owner’s realize their true potential (wear this dress and you’ll find what your missing: confidence, courage, power, love, beauty, magnificence….) by sewing a special little star into the seams of the dresses with her needle and red thread weaving possibility into their dreams.
Walt – Since he was four years old, Walt has been in love with Cora but she has never taken notice of him. He spends his days working in the bookshop that he has dreamed of his whole life and recently has taken a second job as the Night Reader on the local radio station narrating books that appeal to his female listeners, but embarrasses him.
Father Sebastian – Spends his days listening to the confessions of others but is hiding his own secret.
Dylan – Who is replying to the letters that Walt has been receiving at the station. This is the outlet that he needs to help him stay in touch, since so much of his time has been taken up caring for his ill father. Listening to the Night Reader has opened up emotions that he thought were long since dormant.
Officer Henry Dixon and his wife Francesca – Henry never stopped loving his wife and until that decisive moment, Henry had no idea why Francesca wanted to take their son Mateo back to Italy. Once all the words were said, the picture became clear and Henry loved her even more for it.
Milly – who closed herself off from the world, after the death of her husband, until she heard the Night Reader. With the perfect dress from the shop, she was going to make Walt fall in love with her. Little did she know, but her heart was really in love with someone else.
Intertwined with passages of the books that Walt is reading on air, the Dress Shop of Dreams takes the reader through the trials that each face in finding the one true person that they are meant to be with. Part romance, part magic, the Dress Shop of Dreams grabs the reader from the very first moment and holds on until the very last page, the very last word, when the writing in the journal that Walt’s mother had left for him is revealed. Walt has spent years trying to decipher the symbols in this journal. He knows that it has to be important, but he just cannot decode this message. That is until the right person discovers the answer. That is an awesome moment and the perfect ending to this wonderful book.