Thursday, October 5, 2023

The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle

The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle
  The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle
Author:  Jennifer Ryan
Publication Information:  Ballantine Books. 2022. 432 pages.
ISBN:  0593158830 / 978-0593158838

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "'I found it!' the Reverend Ben Carlisle's voice called from the attic."

Favorite Quote:  "We are part of a circle of women, sharing the same dreams, holding hands through the centuries. They are all there, if you look hard enough, if you untangle the threadworm, peeling away the layers of stitching to find the fragments of lives, of hopes, and of love woven throughout."

Jennifer Ryan writes stories of war, but, in the midst of death and destruction, she finds moments in history that exemplify wartime spirit and communities that stood together to do what they had to do to survive and find joy in some of the darkest moments of world history. The Kitchen Front based a story on the history of a BBC show that inspired creativity with war rations. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir was a story of a small town and the impact of the war. Both stories focused on the women of the community, had poignant moments of the horror of war, and yet found uplifting stories in that history.

This book continues on the same theme. Clothes rationing and the lack of availability for materials and notions severely limited people's wardrobes. At the same time, life went on - births, deaths, celebrations, and weddings. With the uncertainty of wartime, weddings were perhaps even more frequent and sometimes  hastily put together. Every woman had dreams of wedding gowns for their special day. Yet, the directions were as follows. "Brides are expected to wear their best dress or skirt suit for the wedding, unless they are in the military, in which case they are to wear their uniforms." What to do because no-one wants to wear that to their wedding?

In her research, Jennifer Ryan found "the story of a shared wedding dress ... in the memories of a young vicar's wife who would let any prospective bride wear her own wedding dress for their big day. The gown was passed from woman to woman... each time adjusted to fit." Further research led to many other stories of dresses and gathered and distributed as the need arose. The efforts expanded even to the United States with Eleanor Roosevelt getting involved to gather and send dresses to British brides during the war.

That is wonderful history of human spirit from which this book grows. A story of war is a memorable story of caring and ingenuity. As with Jennifer Ryan's other books, the war is present, and its devastation never far away. 

When a book about weddings and wedding dresses involves a London designer forced to flee to the country side, the dresses are going to be creative and beautiful. Of course, a book about weddings and wedding dresses cannot be without a bit romance. With the setting of an English village, small town life and its foibles enter the story. Overall, although a book about war, this is a feel good story that leaves me inspired and smiling.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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