The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan #BookReview #Macmillan #NetGalley #5*

From the acclaimed author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Kitchen Front, Jennifer Ryan, comes a novel inspired by true events in the Second World War.

After renowned London fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her design house in the Blitz, she has nowhere to go but the family manor house she fled decades ago.

She arrives with nothing but the clothes she stands in, at a loss as to how to rebuild her business from a quaint country village.

Her niece, Violet, is thrilled that her famous aunt is coming to stay – the village has been interminably dull with all the men off fighting. Meanwhile, the local vicar’s daughter, Grace Carlisle, is trying in vain to repair her mother’s gown, her only chance of a white wedding. When Cressida Westcott appears at the local sewing circle meeting, Grace asks for her help – but Cressida has much more to teach the ladies than just simple sewing skills.

Before long, Cressida’s spirit and ambition galvanizes the village group into action, and they find themselves mending wedding dresses not only for local brides, but for brides across the country.

And as the women dedicate themselves to helping others celebrate love, they might even manage to find it for themselves . . .

The Great British Sewing Bee meets the Second World War in this warm, charming and nostalgic novel The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle.

A Sheer Delight!

Another remarkable wartime read from a favourite author!

When Grace Carlisle’s mother died young, Grace stepped up to take her place not only in the home, but also in her father’s parish where she spends her days helping out anyone and everyone in need. With her wedding day looming and new rules about clothing, her only hope of being married in white is to wear her mother’s wedding dress, but there has been considerable moth damage; will it be possible to renovate the frock in time? At the local ‘big house’, Cressida Westcott has returned to live, temporarily, with her niece and nephew after her home and business were bombed in the Blitz. Cressida, not used to sitting on her laurels, soon becomes involved in village life and she has more skills to offer than just being a lady of the manor . . .

As with the author’s other novels, this is a delight from beginning to end. I always enjoy reading the acknowledgements and the amount of research carried out is quite mind boggling! It shows in all the little details throughout – like women in the village being referred to as ‘Mrs’ or ‘Miss’; when we were children we wouldn’t have ever considered calling a neighbour or friend of our parents by their Christian name. Also shining through is the determination of everyone to pull together during the war and it’s easily seen how it was the beginning of the end of the so-called ‘class war’. Everything about this one was a sheer delight and I revelled in it. Of course, Grace and Cressida’s stories were so very different but equally enthralling. Beautifully written and so very entertaining, this is easily a five star read and I recommend it to all lovers of a rather good tale!

My thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley; this is – as always – my honest, original and unbiased review.

Tags: historical women’s fiction

Author Details

Jennifer Ryan is the author of National Bestseller THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR, THE SPIES OF SHILLING LANE, and THE KITCHEN FRONT. Her writing has featured in Literary Hub, Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times, The Express, BBC Online, YOU Magazine, The Simple Things Magazine, and Good Reading Magazine. Previously a book editor with The Economist, DK, and the BBC, she moved from London to Washington, DC after marrying, and she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Her novels are inspired by her grandmother’s tales of the war in Britain.

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