The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWIII, British Literature
Hardcover, 432 pages
Publication: May 31st 2022 by Ballantine Books
Taken from Goodreads: Three plucky women lift the spirits of home-front brides in wartime Britain, where clothes rationing leaves little opportunity for pomp or celebration--even at weddings--in this heartwarming novel based on true events, from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.
After renowned fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her design house in the London Blitz, she has nowhere to go but the family manor house she fled decades ago. Praying that her niece and nephew will be more hospitable than her brother had been, she arrives with nothing but the clothes she stands in, at a loss as to how to rebuild her business while staying in a quaint country village.
Her niece, Violet Westcott, is thrilled that her famous aunt is coming to stay--the village has been interminably dull with all the men off fighting. But just as Cressida arrives, so does Violet's conscription letter. It couldn't have come at a worse time; how will she ever find a suitably aristocratic husband if she has to spend her days wearing a frumpy uniform and doing war work?
Meanwhile, the local vicar's daughter, Grace Carlisle, is trying in vain to repair her mother's gown, her only chance of a white wedding. When Cressida Westcott appears at the local Sewing Circle meeting, Grace asks for her help--but Cressida has much more to teach the ladies than just simple sewing skills.
Before long, Cressida's spirit and ambition galvanizes the village group into action, and they find themselves mending wedding dresses not only for local brides, but for brides across the country. And as the women dedicate themselves to helping others celebrate love, they might even manage to find it for themselves.
My Thoughts: I am a fan of WWII books. The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle is a unique look at the lives of those at home trying to make ends meet. I enjoyed seeing the women of the small-town work together to give the brides of the are a white dress to wear to make their day special. The idea of taking wedding dresses and sharing them, altering them to fit, and making friendships while sewing is wonderful. I love reading about the women as their friendships blossomed and their lives moved in ways that none of them expected.
The main characters of this book live in a horrible time, a time of destruction, death, and fear, but they find a way to help others, make friendships, and fall in love while sewing wedding dresses. Cressida’s returned to the manor that was not happy for her, she was ruled by a father then a brother that did not care about her happiness only about what she could do for her family. Grace, the vicar’s daughter, is marrying not for love but because she wants a family. I hoped that she would open her eyes and see that she would not be happy marrying Lawrence and that her true love was right in front of her. Violet, Cressida’s niece, thinks that she must marry a well-to-do man to keep her family in the right place in the village. I enjoyed watching her realize that she could marry for love, not just for the stature. These women worked together, laughed together, supported each other, and fell in love together. They became my friends and people I want to spend more time with.
I love this book. Jennifer Ryan did an amazing job bringing the characters and setting to life. I could picture the different homes, the unique locations, and the beautiful dresses.
**Thank you Penguin Random House for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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Meet Jennifer Ryan (Taken from her website): Jennifer Ryan is the author of National Bestseller THE CHILBURY LADIES' CHOIR, THE SPIES OF SHILLING LANE, and THE KITCHEN FRONT. Her writing has featured in Literary Hub, Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times, The Express, BBC Online, YOU Magazine, The Simple Things Magazine, and Good Reading Magazine. Previously a book editor with The Economist, DK, and the BBC, she moved from London to Washington, DC after marrying, and she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Her novels are inspired by her grandmother's tales of the war in Britain.