Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: "Little Black Dress" by Susan McBride

Antonia Ashton has worked hard to escape her small-town roots and has established a life for herself in the city, complete with a business and a boyfriend. However Antonia's plans go awry when her mother, Evie, suffers a stroke and Antonia needs to return to her hometown of Blue Hills.

Back home Antonia is confronted with a deluge of memories, and the appearance of a  mysterious black dress only proves to complicate things. What Antonia slowly comes to realize is that this seemingly normal little black dress possesses power beyond her wildest imagination. It was the garment that Evie was found in when she had her stroke, and although the paramedics had to cut it open, Antonia brings it home and finds that it has miraculously repaired itself. Even more surprising are the visions that Antonia has as soon as she puts the dress on.

As Antonia spends more time in Blue Hills helping her mother recover and rediscovering old friends, she inadvertently unravels an age-old family mystery and comes to understand more about herself and her family history, all with the help of a little black dress.

Before even picking up this book I was a little skeptical. I mean, a little black dress that has magical powers? I had my doubts as to how that would work into the story, and I wondered if it would lend a sense of disbelief to the entire story. Luckily I was mistaken, and as I read I found myself drawn into the story about hardworking Antonia, her kindhearted mother Evie, and Evie's long-lost sister Anna. The mysteries behind the Ashton family were revealed slowly but surely, and even though I had some ideas as to what was going to happen, I wasn't entirely right, nor did having an idea as to what was going to happen take away from the story as a whole. Even though I don't read what one would call "traditional" mysteries, I loved how McBride was able to weave mystery, family dynamics, and romance into one book, and how she managed to make these elements all work together.

If you don't mind the fact that the one thing that ties the story together is a black dress with magical powers, I think that you'll enjoy Little Black Dress. Well-written and with a plot that managed to suck me in despite my initial doubts, this one is a treat for those who enjoy women's fiction. My thanks to the publisher for sending this review copy.

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