Book Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams

January 13, 2015 Book Review, reviews 6

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: The Dress Shop of DreamsThe Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Pragg
Published by Ballantine Books, Random House on December 30th
Genres: Fiction, Magical Realism
Pages: 336
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound


Having read and loved Menna van Praag’s novel The House at the End of Hope Street {review here} I had high expectations of The Dress Shop of Dreams.  Both books are steeped in magical realism and satisfy my yearning for fairy tales.  I collected fairy tales as a child and read them over and over {The recent movie “Into the Woods” was a phenomenal experience for me!}  I’ve been accused, quite often, of living with my head in the clouds and being too much of a dreamer.  All perfect reasons to immerse myself in Menna van Praag’s novels!

When Cora Sparks parent’s died mysteriously, Cora moved in with Etta, her Grandmother, above Etta’s fabulous dress shop.  Cora grows up as logical, a realist and becomes a scientist with a heart closed to love.  On the same street as the dress shop is a book store where Walt, a young boy infatuated with Cora, grows up immersed in the stacks.  Walt ends up buying the bookstore as an adult {what a dream come true that would be for me!} and Cora burrows deeper and deeper into her lab.

Etta’s sewing needles and expertise at finding the perfect dress for a client is nothing short of magical.  A woman can walk into the dress shop without any self-confidence, put on a dress from Etta and then sees herself as beautiful, self-assured and ready to make her own dreams come true.  When Etta decides to push things along between Walt and Cora by sewing a tiny heart into Walt’s shirt, chaos ensues.

Normally I enjoy books with several points of view; however, The Dress Shop of Dreams seemed to have a few too many that did nothing to further the plot.  The cast of characters are imaginative and real, making this character-driven story a treat.

[Tweet “a nora ephron-esque feel-good book for dreamers”]

As a feel-good novel with underlying magic The Dress Shop of Dreams shines.  Reading it was like sitting through a Nora Ephron film with copious amounts of popcorn and snowcaps.  A super sweet, imaginative love story with hearts all awry and characters who think they know what’s best until life, and a bit of magic, show them otherwise.  Recommended to those who enjoy a Nora Ephron film and readers of Sarah Addison Allen.


I’m honored to be a member of the She Reads Blog Network.  Five lucky winners will receive the set of She Reads Books of Winter of which includes The Dress Shop of Dreams. ENTER HERE by January 30th, 2015.   The complete set includes The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag, The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister, Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker, and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

6 Responses to “Book Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams”

  1. Christina T

    I haven’t read her first book but I liked this one. Stories like those of Sarah Addison Allen appeal to me. I liked the characters (though I struggled to relate to Cora), especially Walt who reminded me of Forney Hull from Where The Heart Is and the various love stories.

    I did think there were too many characters. I could have done without the extra storyline involving Henry and Francesca. I also thought the mystery was too much and in the end it didn’t really matter.

    Really nice review! I agree that this does remind me of Nora Ephron’s movies.

    I loved fairy tales as a child. I still do (Once Upon a Time is one of my favorite shows). Have you read Goodnight June by Sarah Jio? If not you might enjoy it.
    Christina T recently posted…Review: The Dress Shop of DreamsMy Profile

    • Stacy (The Novel Life)

      Thanks so much for the kind words! Your review touched on so many other elements that I didn’t think to include ~ the big one being the setting! I’m honored you found me and that we had similar thoughts on this one.

      Thank you for the tip to read Sarah Jio’s Goodnight June. I ordered it after reading your comment and will let you know what I think in a couple of days 😉 It’s great to have someone recommend a similar read ~ especially one that you really enjoyed!

      I hate to admit this but I’ve only seen a couple of the Once Upon a Time episodes! Which is crazy given my love of fairy tales. I go in spurts watching television so I tend to watch entire seasons in a few days on hulu or netflix. About the only show I half-way remember to turn on during the week is Erin Burnett on CNN {my boyfriend swears I’ve got a crush on her but I really don’t!}

      Would you believe I’ve never read Where the Heart Is! I added that to my list {again} thanks to you! The bookstore I buy from is going to love you! I imagine they’ll be wanting to send you a thank you note 😉
      Stacy (The Novel Life) recently posted…Book Review: The Dress Shop of DreamsMy Profile

      • Christina T

        I hope you like Goodnight June. It doesn’t have any magic but I loved the setting (children’s book store) and the way the author incorporated books into the story. I watched the movie version of Where the Heart Is before I read the book and I like both. I loved the small town setting and the colorful characters.

        I binge watched Once Upon a Time on Netflix last winter and then caught up on Season 3 on Hulu. I tried watching Grimm (also based on fairy tales) but it was too dark for me. I am looking forward to watching Into the Woods when it is out on DVD.

        I will have to check out The House at the End of Hope Street. It caught my attention when it was published but I never got around to picking up a copy. I’ll have to see if we own it at my library.
        Christina T recently posted…Review: The Dress Shop of DreamsMy Profile

  2. Catherine

    I agree with you on the multiple points of view- it was too much for me and distracting. However, what woman doesn’t dream of walking into a dress shop and finding a silk dress that exactly meets her greatest secret desires?! I loved that aspect of it.
    Catherine recently posted…Brilliant: A NovelMy Profile

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