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The Secret Lives of Dresses


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About the Author

Erin McKean runs one of the most popular vintage fashion websites in the US and words are her passions and indeed her day job, as one of America's most eminent lexicographers. THE SECRET LIVES OF DRESSES is her debut novel.


Now in her last year of college, Dora is wandering aimlessly through life, majoring in liberal arts-a subject that allows her to delay contemplating her future-and taking whatever opportunities come along. When her grandmother Mimi suffers a stroke, Dora rushes home to Forsyth, NC, where she runs the vintage dress shop in Mimi's absence and slowly transforms into the woman she never thought she was, one who feels at home in vintage dresses. In distracting herself from the pain brought on by her grandmother's illness, Dora soon finds herself doing exactly what she has always avoided: making decisions about her future. Lexicographer McKean interweaves an involving tale about vintage dresses that have "secret lives" with her underlying theme of finding oneself during times of turmoil and loss. VERDICT In this quiet debut novel, fans of McKean's blog ( will be especially captivated by her ability to effectively spice up a consistently steady plot with a heaping of the "secret lives" they have enjoyed for years. It will also appeal to readers who enjoy coming-of-age tales.--Natasha Grant, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Style queens and Mad Men fans will love this heart-warming story - BellaLove a romance? Love fashion? You'll lap up this cute tale of a woman who looks after her grandmother's shop and discovers all sorts of life secrets in the pocket of a dress. - HeatEver slipped into a vintage dress and wondered who wore it first? Then you'll adore The Secret Lives of Dresses. Penned by US fashion blogger Erin McKean, it follows Dora, who takes over her gran's clothes shop and finds that in the pocket of every dress lies a history. - LookA lovingly stitched tale - NowSweet and enjoyable... a heartwarming read - ImageA girlie, captivating tale of frocks and love - Closeran enchanting novel for anyone with a love of dresses - Irish Tatler

Blogger McKean's retro fashion-forward coming-of-age debut follows Dora Winston as she sashays toward a degree in "vagueness studies" while engaged in a fruitless flirtation with her coffee shop boss. She's got no idea what to do with her life, and then her adored grandmother, Mimi, has a stroke, and Dora is whisked back to Mimi's vintage clothing store, where she learns more about Mimi, thanks to the secret (and ploddingly overwritten) stories Mimi has stashed away on pieces of paper stuck in the pockets of her most intriguing inventory. Flashbacks flesh out Mimi's wisdom and wit, while store workers Gabby and Maux complete the trilogy of strong and funny women who run the business and help Dora find her way. The prose hovers somewhere below lackluster, however, and Dora's journey is as comfortable and unsurprising as a favorite sweater. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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