Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

The Secret Lives of Dresses
Author: Erin McKean
Publisher: Grand Central
Published: February 10, 2011
Paperback: 304 pages
Source: purchased at Target

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from Dora has always taken the path of least resistance. She went to the college that offered her a scholarship, is majoring in "vagueness studies," and wears whatever shows the least dirt. She falls into a job at the college coffee shop, and a crush on her flirty boss, Gary. 

Just when she's about to test Gary's feelings, Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke. Dora rushes back home to Forsyth, NC, and finds herself running her grandmother's vintage clothing store. The store has always been a fixture in Dora's life; though she grew up more of a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of girl, before she even knew how to write, Mimi taught her that a vintage 1920s dress could lift a woman's spirit. 

While working there, Dora befriends Mimi's adorable contractor, Conrad. Is he after Dora, or is working from a different blueprint? And why did Mimi start writing down--and giving away--stories of the dresses in her shop? 

When Mimi dies, Dora can't get out of town fast enough and cedes control of the store to her money-hungry aunt who wants to turn it into a t-shirt shop for tourists. But ultimately, she returns to Forsyth, willing to battle whatever may stand in the way of her staying there. Dora can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants?

My Thoughts: I really wanted to like this book. The plot sounded very interesting, the characters seemed like they would be interesting, but none of it added up to a good read. The plot summary makes it seem like the dresses will play more of a role in the book, but aside from Dora picking out an outfit, there wasn't that much to do with dresses or fashion. The story that was told was kind of bland. I felt that it was slow moving and that I could predict what was going to happen 10 pages before it did happen. And while I sometimes like that predictability in a book, I don't like it when it's so obvious what's going to happen and then the author builds it up for 10 pages. 

Another thing that I did like about this book were the characters. I felt that they were characters and not real people. Dora's aunt and cousin were so stereotypical that it was annoying. The handsome contractor who just falls for Dora on the first day of meeting ... it was just too much. And then there was the main character, Dora. She had no personality whatsoever. I just wanted to scream at her, "Grow up! Get a life!" Unfortunately, you can't yell at a character in a book. She was so weak as a character that it became annoying whenever she would think about what to do. She wasn't written to be a main character, and unfortunately, she was. 

If I had to pick something that I did like about the book, it would be the setting. In a small town in North Carolina, I thought it was a great setting and Erin McKean did a great job of painting a beautful setting for this book. Unfortunately, it was wasted on lackluster characters and no real plot. 

1 comment:

  1. Sorry you didn't like this book! I've read a lot of reviews similar to yours where the reader was disappointed and underwhelmed. I have this book on my TBR shelf, and I'm thinking it may stay there for awhile. Bummer, too, because I was so excited to read it when I bought it!