“Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting related to the past events, but is fictional…
An essential element of historical fiction is that it is set in the past and pays attention to the manners, social conditions, and other details of the depicted period. Authors also frequently choose to explore notable historical figures in these settings, allowing readers to better understand how these individuals might have responded to their environments…”
I selected this week’s book with my eyes open. I read the description and thought it sounded interesting even though it was yet another historical fiction book. I am truly at the point where I would be happy never to read yet another historical fiction book based during the Second World War. There would need to be a good hook to get me to read another. ( I think I have said this before and look how that turned out.)
And this book sounded interesting enough for me to want to read it. I was given a copy in exchange for my unbiased review.
The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle starts during the London Blitz. Cressida Westcott loses her design studio and her home all one night of bombing. She is left with nothing. The only option she can see is to return to her ancestral home and hope that she can be taken in by her niece and nephew. She and her older brother did not get along and she has not been home in years. Her brother is dead and she hopes she can stay there while she tries to find a new place to live and work.
Cressida is famous in the world of fashion design. Her studio was quite an accomplishment for a woman in those times. She never married and she worked hard all the time. She arrives at her old country home with a coat over her nightdress. That is all she has with her. Her niece and nephew welcome her to their home.
Cressida’s niece, Violet, feels that her only purpose in life is to marry well. She wants to marry an aristocrat and settle down. She doesn’t really have any ambition beyond that. She attends some of the Village functions but is never really any help to anyone.
Hugh is Cressida’s nephew. He and his father did not get along but he is trying to take on the role that his father played in the town and carry out the directions that he his father left. He is a reluctant landlord. He did not like his father very much but doesn’t see that he can break with his Father’s ways.
Grace Carlisle is the vicar’s daughter. She selflessly gives to the people of the parish. She runs most of the events and visits the sick. Her father was devastated by the death of his wife and Grace has stepped in to fill the void. She is engaged to be married and the Vicar goes to the attic to find Grace’s mother’s wedding dress. He does find it but it has moth damage in several parts of the dress.
Grace takes the dress to the parish sewing circle to see if they have ideas on how she can fix the dress. The night she brings the dress, Cressida comes to the sewing circle for the first time. In looking over the dress, the women start discussing that the wartime brides in England cannot get wedding dresses or even white dresses. The women start thinking of ways that they can help by fixing up dresses and sharing them among the brides.
The book centers on Cressida, Violet, and Grace and the changes that they go through over the course of the book. Cressida encourages the women in the sewing circle to be independent and is there to help Grace and Violet when they are in doubt. I liked the way the story progressed and the character development. The story moved along well and held my interest. The characters are believable and interesting. I recommend it.
By the way, Jennifer Ryan also wrote The Chilbury Ladies Choir, which I have read and enjoyed.
Thanks for reading.