Monday, January 26, 2015

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

Published December 20, 2014 by Ballantine Books

The Dress Shop of Dreams is part of the Winter SheReads book choices.   SheReads is a community of bloggers that work together to promote book. 

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 Thoughts…

This is a story of magic, love and family.   I was sent to a world where dresses can make a person be stronger, know her heart, and understand what path she is to head down,  a world where history can be learned just by dreaming.    The characters are magical and lovable.  The story line moves at a steady and easy pace that pulls the reader in and hold her in from the beginning to the end. 

Etta knows that Cora is living a partial life and knows that they only way to help her is to let her heart know the truth and feel the hurt that has been hidden from her for almost her entire life.   The love she feels for her granddaughter, Cora, is obvious and huge.  Etta is my favorite character.  The magic she shares with the women that come into her dress shop made me smile and feel good.   She not only wanted them to look good, she wanted them to feel good and confident.    While Etta struggles with her own heart break she is able to help so many other women. 

I found The Dress Shop of Dreams a charming and lovely book.    The bits of magic and mystery pulled me in and didn’t let me go, even now that I am finished I still am thinking about the story and characters.   The variety of romances were a great bonus, from the main romance of Cora and Walt, to the side romances including one of fifty years in the making.    This is a story I will recommend to anyone looking for a mystical and magical story to fall into.   

Book Links


“Dreams, dresses, magic, and mystery swirl in this enchanting novel. The Dress
Shop of Dreams is the book to read before turning off your bedside light.”
—Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author of An Island Christmas

“Big-hearted, beautiful and brushed with magic, this novel celebrates life's
moments of joy, possibility and transformation. Menna van Praag’s
writing is bright with sparkles and lovely grace notes.”
—Susan Wiggs, bestselling author of The Beekeeper’s Ball

“The Dress Shop of Dreams is a dream come true for lovers of romantic tales
with a twist of fantasy. Utterly enchanting! Menna van Praag’s imaginative,
endearing characters will stay with you long after you close the book.”
—Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wind

Meet the Author
Menna van Praag was born in Cambridge, England, and studied modern history at Oxford University. Her first novella, Men, Money, and Chocolate—an autobiographical tale about a waitress who aspires to be a writer—has been translated into twenty-six languages. Her first work of fiction, The House at the End of Hope Street, was inspired by an idea van Praag had to set up a house for female artists to give them a year to fulfill their artistic ambitions. You can learn more about Menna on her website at

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