The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag (Ballantine Books, January 2015)
Etta Spark’s dress shop is on a quiet side street in Cambridge, but women who need Etta’s magic find their way into her shop. Etta’s dresses have a way of finding the owner who needs them the most, and Etta stitches a little extra magic into each dress, helping the wearer’s dreams come true. The only people she seems not to be able to help are her twenty-five year old granddaughter Cora and herself. Etta’s daughter Maggie and her husband were scientists on the verge of a breakthrough that they felt would put an end to world hunger when they were killed in a fire twenty years earlier. Cora has followed in their scientific footsteps but fancies herself too logical for things such as love and magic. The young bookstore owner, Walt, a shop or two away has had his cap set for Cora since he was five and she was eight, but has never had the courage to tell Cora. Etta, who was happily married for many years, still pines for her first love, her true love and decides that Cora’s, and Walt’s, life will not be filled with regrets and what-ifs and takes matters into her own hands, tilting things on an axis where nothing is what it seems nor as it should be as Cora sets off to prove her parents’ deaths were not an accident, but murder. Filled with sparkle and magic, but most of all heart and love, Van Praag (The House at the End of Hope Street) has once again written an enchanting tale that will provide several hours of enjoyable escape and hopefulness.