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The Wedding Dress Circle by Jennifer Ryan


Set in England during World War II, The Wedding Dress Circle is inspired by real-life accounts of women collecting and distributing wedding dresses for brides to wear during a time of rationing that had put wedding dresses out of the reach of most women.


The story opens when Cressida Westcott, a renowned fashion designer, loses her home and business in the Blitz. She has nowhere to go except to the country manor home she left many years earlier. Her nephew Hugh is busy with war office business and offers her a polite but cold welcome to the family home. But her niece Violet is thrilled her famous aunt is coming to stay, although less thrilled when her aunt doesn’t seem that interested in her plans to marry a Duke or someone with wealth and a title. While Violet is a privileged young woman, Cressida is more drawn to Grace Carlisle, the local vicar’s daughter, a modest young woman who is desperate to repair her mother’s moth-ridden wedding dress.


Cressida is invited to the local sewing circle meeting, and as the novel progresses, she has much more to teach the ladies there than just sewing skills. And Cressida finds that living in the country isn’t the dreadful time she thought it would be, especially when she re-establishes a friendship with a man from her past. Meanwhile, Cressida catches the eye of a friend from her childhood, but it is not the man she intends to marry. And Violet’s life is thrown into disarray when she is conscripted to do work for the war effort and finds herself driving an intolerable American officer.


As you might have guessed, more than a thread of romance runs through this novel, but it’s utterly charming and transports you to the English countryside and London during the Blitz with a fabulous cast of characters. It’s a nostalgic read, full of friendship, love and laughter, with stylish clothing galore. I adored it!


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Macmillan Publishers

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