When you sign up to review a book for a blog tour for a book you haven’t yet read by an author you haven’t heard of, I guess you’re always taking a bit of a chance. It’s so wonderful when that leap into the darkness introduces you to a book so absolutely enchanting that I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who might enjoy a well written, beautifully constructed story, full of love and hope, perfect to escape into and so thoroughly enjoyable. The Dress by Jane L Rosen is published in paperback original by Arrow on 17th November, and is also available as an eBook – and I absolutely loved it.
Legend has it that every season there is one dress. The dress that can make your career, the dress to ignite a spark with that special someone, the dress to utterly transform your life.
For Felicia, who has been in love with her boss for 20 years; for Natalie who has sworn off men since her ex dumped her – for them and for others, life is about to change.
And all because of their brush with the dress of the season, the perfect little black number that everyone wants to get their hands on…
With the Max Hammer little black dress at its centre, this book lays bare the lives of a wonderful cast of New York characters with the same sureness of touch that Armistead Maupin examines the people of San Francisco. Every small story – some self contained, some continuing episodically to their glorious conclusion – is absolutely enchanting, with a cast of characters that leaps off the page and leaves an indelible impression on your heart.
I was hooked from the moment young Sally from Alabama stepped out on the runway wearing “the dress” – that one dress that changes the lives and fortunes of everyone it touches. There were so many story threads I adored – the story of Sally herself, 90 year old Morris Siegel and how he came to be a pattern cutter, film star Jeremy Madison with the confusion over his sexual preferences and wonderful blossoming relationship with Natalie “the beard” from Bloomingdales, and Andie of the Ostrich Detective Agency using the tools of her trade to look for some happiness of her own.
The staff at Bloomingdales with their interactions with customers were simply wonderful – I just loved Ruthie from Third Floor Ladies’ Dresses, her asides and observations, and her real affection (and occasional hatred) for some of her customers. From those interactions in Bloomingdales, we get to meet Arthur, who is at the centre of the story line I loved the best – having lost the love of his life, we watch him slowly become aware of the woman who has always adored him and been part of his life for over twenty years, thanks to a timely intervention by those wonderful staff at Bloomingdales.
This is a book where good things happen for good people, sometimes in the most surprising ways – and the bad most certainly get their comeuppance. Every story is told with the most wonderful wit and personality, in the distinctive voice of the character who tells it, and we get to know every one within moments with a few assured character strokes that distinguish them instantly. There are stories with twists and turns that make you laugh, some that make you cringe, and others that really make your heart sing and will bring a tear to the most jaded of eyes.
The book’s construction is quite wonderful – a magnificent dance of characters who become part of your heart and your life, whose happiness comes to mean so much to you, intermingled with other vignettes that are complete stories in themselves and every bit as touching and funny. The writing is assured and confident, infused with love, warmth and sparkling humour.
This book wasn’t what I expected at all – and I totally loved it. And, what’s more, I think almost everyone who picks it up will feel the same. Absolute perfection…
My thanks to Arrow Publishing and netgalley for my advance reading e-copy, and to Jasmine Rowe at Cornerstone Publicity for her help and support.
Jane L. Rosen is an author, screenwriter and Huffington Post contributor. She lives in New York City and Fire Island with her husband and three daughters. She often takes inspiration from the city she lives in and the people she shares it with. In addition to her writing she has spent time in television and event production and is the co-founder of a gifting app called ItsAllGravy.com.
Follow Jane on Twitter.