Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

Release Date: 2/10/11
The Secret Lives of DressesPublisher: 5 Spot
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 290
SourceHachette Book Group
Challenge100 Books in a Year

Dora has always taken the past 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's fallen into a job at the campus coffee shop and a crush on her flirty boss, Gary . . . but has no idea what she's going to do next.

When Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke, Dora rushes home to Forsyth, NC, and finds herself running her grandmother's vintage clothing store.  Surrounded by regal gowns, sexy sheaths, and Jackie-esque suits from decades gone by, Dora makes a curious discovery: Mimi had been secretly writing down and giving away stories about the dresses in her shop.  Soon the clothes, her grandmother's legacies, and a handsome young contractor named Conrad being to make her wonder . . . She can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants? ((Taken from the back cover))

First Sentence
"Dora had a rhythm going, or if not a rhythm, a pattern, and it went something like downshift, wipe tears away with back of hand, sob, upshift, scrub running nose with horrible crumpled fast-food napkin, stab at the buttons on the radio, and then downshift again."

My Thoughts
Honestly, this book blew me away.  Mostly because I read up on the author and found out she has only ever written language books.  This is McKean's first book where "the words are arranged in something other than alphabetical order".  McKean is a fantastic story teller, and the book grabbed me from the first sentence and didn't let go until I finished.  

I loved Dora's character and could completely relate to her.  I honestly wish there was some sort of "vagueness studies" available at the colleges I attended, because that certainly would have been my major!  I've always thought that vintage stuff is cool, but I've never worn any vintage clothing or anything like that, as I am more of a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of girl.

Mimi was hands down amazing.  I was so impressed that I could love a character so much that was in a coma for a large majority of the book.  She was just a sweet, loving grandmother with lots of pearls of wisdom. 

My only real confusion came about surrounding Conrad, and maybe I missed something . . . It just seemed to me like he was a much older man, and pursuing a 20 something girl seemed weird to me.  It seemed like throughout the story, Dora was somewhat uncomfortable around him, however many of the other characters would say how beautiful and wonderful Con was.  I'm not saying that I don't think that Dora and Con are perfect for each other, because I believe they are . . . it just didn't seem to fit at first.

This is a wonderful story of growing up, dealing with family and learning to love, and I would highly recommend this book.

Favorite Quote
"'If you want someone to stop listening to you," she told Dora, "go ahead and yell.  If you want them to listen to every word, whisper."'

Likes: How likeable and well developed the characters are.
Dislikes:  The confusion about Conrad.
Favorite Character: Mimi
Least Favorite Character: Camille
Cover: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing Style: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5

Happy Reading!

Disclosure - I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from the publisher.  This in no way affected my review.


Annette Mills said...

This is the second or maybe third awesome review of this book. It's on my TBR -- can't wait to read it. Great thoughts!

Lark Andrea said...

Great review! I am adding this to my TBR list. I also love that you include a favorite quote in your reviews. I may have to consider adding that to my review structure.

Andrea @ Reading Lark

E said...

Oooooooh, this sounds wonderful! I will definitely add it to my list :)


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