As the summer comes to an end you may be looking for one last fun, easy, summer read to soak in like the sun as you relax over Labor Day weekend. If you do only have time for one more, I suggest making it “The Secret Lives of Dresses,” by Erin McKean.
When Dora’s grandmother Mimi suffers a stroke, Dora must leave college where she is majoring in what Mimi calls “vagueness studies” and come home to help care for the woman who raised her. Once home, Dora begins helping in Mimi’s vintage clothing store and, slowly, more than her outfits begin to change.
Dora begins to see the world through Mimi’s eyes, and wardrobe, and the vagueness that had plagued her becomes more focused. She falls in love with the dresses, and the stories Mimi had been writing for them.
The concept of the book, the clothes having a life of their own and helping Dora to discover meaning in hers, was fun and unique. Dora herself was a very relatable character. Instead of the driven twenty smoething youth on the career track we so often see, we have someone who is just not sure what direction she wants to take her life. To me, this is a bit easier to relate to.
The other great part is the dresses. Erin McKean describes the dresses and their lives in great detail probably due to the fact that she also writes a blog called A Dress A Day. The blog features vintage clothes and patterns and was the inspiration for the novel.
The novel has everything a summer read needs, funny quips, quirky characters, a budding romance and a life crisis. While it is a fun read, it seems on the verge of being much more than that, it just never takes the leap. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, I just wanted more. I wanted more from the characters, the back story and the dresses.
Despite the few places it lacks depth, McKean has delivered a fun and entertaining read to enjoy while soaking up the last of the summer sun.