The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle

Ballantine. May 2022. 432p. ISBN 9780593158838. $28. F
World War II brings change to every part of England. World famous clothing Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her studio in the London Blitz, and returns to her family’s country manor, which she fled after being disowned by her rigidly aristocratic brother. Little does she know that her return will change everyone’s lives from her equally rigid nephew Hugh, now master of the estate, to her vapid socialite niece, Violet, to the village sewing circle inspired by rehabilitating one wedding dress to setting up a Wedding Dress Exchange that reaches across the Atlantic, even to Eleanor Roosevelt. Under her influence the quiet vicar’s daughter looking forward to life as a quiet vicar’s wife decides to follow her own adventurous heart and her talents as a designer and the vapid socialite become a driver, mechanic, and officer; however, it’s not until Cressida returns to her life in London that she recognizes her own faulty assumptions about life and love just as she has encouraged the others to do.
VERDICT With its wealth of historical detail, Ryan’s latest historical novel (The Kitchen Front) will appeal to World War II buffs as well as lovers of cozy English village novels.
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