Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for Little Black Dress
Evie and her younger sister, Anna, could not have been more different. While Evie was tall, slender, and somewhat plain, Anna was considered beautiful and vivacious. Evie was calm, reliable, and responsible, but Anna always craved adventure and excitement. She dreamed of traveling the world.
Their father dreamed of reclaiming acres of vineyards swindled from the family. So when Davis Cummings showed interest in Anna, their father not only encouraged the union, but actually coached Davis on how to win his daughter’s heart. Soon enough a huge wedding was planned.
But on the eve of the nuptials, Evie and Ann happen upon an unusual store. The Gypsy shopkeeper is mysterious and produces a little black dress for Anna’s to try on. She purchases it and wears it to the wedding rehearsal — shortly before she vanishes, leaving her parents and sister heartbroken, and her would-be groom and his family furious. A distraught Evie tries on the little black dress and soon discovers its magical powers.
Now, some fifty years later, Evie’s long-time housekeeper and confidante, Bridget, discovers her in the attic of the old Victorian family home one morning in Blue Hills, Missouri. She is unconscious, having suffered a stroke. Why she was wearing a little black dress and rummaging in the attic remains a mystery as Evie lies in a medically-induced coma in her hospital bed. Her daughter, Antonia, rushes home from St. Louis to be with her mother. It has been two years since the death of her beloved father, Jon, and Toni has spent little time with her mother, with whom she has always had a difficult relationship.
As Evie hovers between life and death, Toni begins putting her mother’s affairs in order and soon learns that her family has been harboring secrets for decades. She discovers one of them — a little black dress, ripped apart by paramedics working to save her mother’s life that appears to have been miraculously been pieced back together by Bridget. Astonishingly, the dress appears brand-new and there is no evidence of Bridget’s having patched it back together. And it fits Toni perfectly, even though she and her mother wear different sizes. What will the little black dress reveal to Toni?
Review:Little Black Dress, author Susan McBride’s just-released follow-up to The Cougar Club, is a dramatic family saga with a magical, fanciful twist that makes it a perfectly entertaining and engrossing summer read.
McBride tells the story using alternating chapters in which Evie’s first-person narrative reveals her life story, while those devoted to Toni are drafted in the third-person. As Evie lingers in a comatose state, her fate uncertain, she details the events surrounding Anna’s aborted wedding, how she met and married her husband, Jon, and the circumstances surrounding Toni’s birth. Meanwhile, as Toni waits for her mother to emerge from her coma, she is shocked to discover that since her father’s passing, her mother has allowed her financial and business matters to fall into disarray. When her long-time boyfriend arrives unannounced and insists on taking her out to dinner, she also learns that her mother has forged an unlikely partnership with Hunter Cummings, son of Davis Cummings, her aunt’s jilted bridegroom. What could possibly cause Evie to allow Hunter to run the family winery, much less engage in a new business venture with a member of the family that has held a grudge against them for half a century?
Toni left in a hurry, without packing, when she received news of her mother’s stroke, so she has no clothing to wear out on a dinner date except her old prom dresses that are still hanging in the closet of her childhood bedroom. But there is the little black dress her mother was wearing when Bridget found her in the attic. Of course, the paramedics destroyed it as they worked to save Evie’s life . . . didn’t they? Toni’s reaction to and puzzlement about the dress is, like that of Anna and Evie so many years earlier, the beginning of yet another mystery.
McBride’s characters are intriguingly flawed and endearing. Evie, always the stalwart, dependable, and dutiful daughter, found happiness with Jon, her true soul mate, and Antonia. She was happy having a home and family, while Anna, the headstrong, rebellious daughter, wanted to wander the globe. Toni, meanwhile, has never been married, but runs her own successful business. Ironically, she is a wedding planner. At forty-six, she believed she wanted to marry her long-time boyfriend, but after returning home and wearing the little black dress, her wishes have been called into question. Learning about her family’s past causes her to reevaluate her own life and the choices she has made thus far, and causes her to regret not having spent more time with her parents when she had the opportunity. Perhaps there is still time to develop a closer bond with Evie . . . if she survives. And what became of Anna, the aunt she has never met?
McBride keenly understands women and their relationships with each other. In The Cougar Club, she tackled female friendship, exploring the lives of four dissimilar women who unconditionally supported each other as each faced challenges. In Little Black Dress, she explores female familial relationships and the way long-held family secrets impact their lives, but does so using an inventive and clever plot device, a magical little black dress that reveals the wearer’s future. The twin narratives never bog down, with McBride injecting just the right amount of detail to give readers a full understanding of past events and their impact on the characters. The result is a thoughtful, imaginative, and fantastical story that will hold readers’ interest to the very last word.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of Little Black Dress free of charge from the author in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Enter to Win a Copy of Little Black Dress
One lucky reader, selected at random, will receive an autographed copy of Little Black Dress, generously provided by the author.
To enter, simply post a comment in which you answer this question:
If you could own a little black dress that would reveal your future to you when you wore it, would you choose to do so? Or would you rather not know the details of your future?
Be sure to include your email address (for notification and delivery purposes). The book can only be shipped to a United States or Canadian address (no P.O. box).
The comment posted by Felecia Digsby was selected at random, so a copy of Little Black Dress is en route to Felecia!