The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle
By Jennifer Ryan
(411 pages, fiction, 2022)
Set in World War II, this story features three women who become involved in their small village’s sewing circle. Famous dress designer Cressida Westcott loses her house and business to the Blitz in London. Escaping with just the clothes on her back, she has to return to her family manor house near Canterbury. Cressida had vowed never to return home because of her brother’s disapproval of her and her career.
Her niece, Violet Westcott, thinks it is wonderful that her well-known aunt is returning. Violet has been groomed to grow up and marry a rich nobleman, and not to have any opinions or dreams for herself. But that starts to change when Violet is conscripted and becomes the driver for a brash American officer.
And Grace Carlisle, the vicar’s daughter, wants to marry and have a family of her own. She has her mother’s wedding gown and hopes to restore it and wear it for her own upcoming wedding. Her fiancé, while a good man, doesn’t bring up romantic feelings in her. Grace has convinced herself that this doesn’t matter. But her paths cross with Hugh, Cressida’s young nephew, who is now lord of the manner. And she remembers their carefree childhood together.
Clothing is rationed and very scarce because of the war. Many young brides don’t have wedding gowns and have to get married in their uniforms or ordinary dress. Grace asks Cressida to help the Sewing Circle take in donated wedding dresses to make them into something a bride would be proud to wear. It’s a way to show the Germans that British customs are still being carried out, and joyful events are still happening despite the war. And it brings the women together. Cressida, Violet and Grace help other women celebrate their weddings with beautiful gowns. But will love ever be a part of their lives?
Author Jennifer Ryan has once again done extensive research for her latest book, The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle. Don’t miss the very interesting and funny “Author’s Note” in the back. If you like this title, try her others: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, The Spies of Shilling Lane and The Kitchen Front.
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