Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Dress

Title:  The Dress
Author:  Sophie Nicholls
Publication Information:  Ruby Slipper Publishing. 2011. 211 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered via email.

Favorite Quote:  You always want what you didn't choose. You always think you should have done, could have done X, Y, Z, instead of focusing on what you do have, right in front of your pretty little nose and what you can make happen, if you only put your mind to it. You're scared, that's all.

The Dress is the story of mother and daughter Fabbia and Ella Moreno. The story is told as they settle into York, and Fabbia runs her own shop of vintage clothing. The book hints at so much more in their story. It makes many references to the "Old Country" and Fabbia's memories of her childhood. It makes many references to Fabbia and Ella having the gift to see "the signals" in the world about situations, emotions, and people. The chapter headings refer to the vintage items that Fabbia sells. The book references the history of the items, the idea of clothes choosing their owners, and the secret messages Fabbia embeds in the embroidering or sewing in the clothes. All of these elements are incorporated as the story of the Moreno's life in York progresses.

The two main characters are likable, and the story creates questions about all the things it hints about. Unfortunately, most of those story threads - the Old Country, the gift of sight, the clothes - are not developed.

The main issue and ending are about a current issue in the world (not saying what to avoid a spoiler). On initial reading, it is a surprise because it is not explicit throughout the book. Upon reflection, the main issue is hinted at. It is not voiced, but going back knowing the ending, elements become visible throughout the story. The hiding and hinting perhaps communicate Fabbia's fear and her desire to protect her daughter. It just leaves the other really interesting elements of the book unfinished. Ultimately, however, the story is still an enjoyable and relevant one.

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