The Little French Bridal Shop

St. Martin’s. Mar. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781250271525. $26.99. F
DEBUT With her mother sinking into increasing dementia, Larisa Pearl’s coping skills leave something to be desired. She has lost her job, has fought with her boyfriend, and is engaging in deceptions small and large—including stepping into the Little French Bridal Shop, trying on all the gowns, and pretending that she’ll be getting married in June. It’s a lie that might work elsewhere, but this is Larisa’s hometown. She’s returned to the small Massachusetts seaside town to fix up her late great-aunt Ursula’s home, Elmhurst, in preparation for selling it. The long-term caretaker of Elmhurst, Jack Merrill, is having problems of his own. His marriage is fraying and he’s unsure of how his life will change now that Ursula is gone. Once Jack’s wife asks for a separation, forcing him to move into a room in Elmhurst, he and Larisa become reacquainted.
VERDICT Dupee’s debut novel doesn’t have a happy-ever-after ending. It’s crisply written, but readers may find the characters a little opaque; the reasons behind their actions aren’t always clear. Still the book is strung through with the hope that life’s hard times don’t last forever. Readers will enjoy seeing Larisa and Jack find that hope.

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