Book Review: The Secret Lives of Dresses

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Honestly, it was the cover that drew me to this book. That and because I kept on seeing it around the bookstore. It’s not my typical read, but lately I’ve been more open to the “chick-lit” genre.

The story is about Dora, an undergraduate who rushes home to news that the grandmother who raised her has suffered a stroke and has been hospitalized.

Her grandmother, Mimi, owned a vintage clothing store in town and Dora assumed the responsibility of running it to keep her busy. She goes about it like she has always known Mimi to do so- after all, it was Mimi who taught her everything about the shop and about life.

She finds out that some of the dresses in the shop come with a “secret life”- a short story about a day in the life of that particular dress. Everyone knows about them except Dora, but no one can tell her anything about them other than Mimi has been doing them for years.

Though even in the small town of Forsyth, North Carolina, we don’t get acquainted to many of the people- which for that I’m thankful. Instead the author, Erin McKean, sticks to those people that matter to Dora- Gabby, Mimi’s best friend and aunt-like figure; Maux, Mimi’s outspoken, tattooed goth chick employee; and Con- a handsome contractor who befriends Dora.

These characters are what hold Dora together in this difficult time… Even stories of Mimi is refreshing and makes you wish you knew her too.

Although somewhat predictable and the secret lives of the dresses don’t come up too often, it actually is a sweet story- one of those “there’s no place like home” type stories. I can actually see this being turned into a Hallmark or Family channel movie. The main characters are very likeable and they’re described so well that you feel like you’ve known them as long as Dora has. I was overall quite surprised how much I enjoyed it and I would recommend this to any woman that wants a light read or who appreciates the beauty of a vintage.

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean
Rating: 4/5 stars

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