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The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle

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Three plucky women lift the spirits of home-front brides in wartime Britain, where clothes rationing leaves little opportunity for pomp or celebration—even at weddings—in this heartwarming novel based on true events, from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. After renowned fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her design house in the Lo Three plucky women lift the spirits of home-front brides in wartime Britain, where clothes rationing leaves little opportunity for pomp or celebration—even at weddings—in this heartwarming novel based on true events, from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. After renowned fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her design house in the London Blitz, she has nowhere to go but the family manor house she fled decades ago. Praying that her niece and nephew will be more hospitable than her brother had been, she arrives with nothing but the clothes she stands in, at a loss as to how to rebuild her business while staying in a quaint country village. Her niece, Violet Westcott, is thrilled that her famous aunt is coming to stay—the village has been interminably dull with all the men off fighting. But just as Cressida arrives, so does Violet's conscription letter. It couldn't have come at a worse time; how will she ever find a suitably aristocratic husband if she has to spend her days wearing a frumpy uniform and doing war work? Meanwhile, the local vicar's daughter, Grace Carlisle, is trying in vain to repair her mother's gown, her only chance of a white wedding. When Cressida Westcott appears at the local Sewing Circle meeting, Grace asks for her help—but Cressida has much more to teach the ladies than just simple sewing skills. Before long, Cressida's spirit and ambition galvanizes the village group into action, and they find themselves mending wedding dresses not only for local brides, but for brides across the country. And as the women dedicate themselves to helping others celebrate love, they might even manage to find it for themselves.


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Three plucky women lift the spirits of home-front brides in wartime Britain, where clothes rationing leaves little opportunity for pomp or celebration—even at weddings—in this heartwarming novel based on true events, from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. After renowned fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her design house in the Lo Three plucky women lift the spirits of home-front brides in wartime Britain, where clothes rationing leaves little opportunity for pomp or celebration—even at weddings—in this heartwarming novel based on true events, from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. After renowned fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her design house in the London Blitz, she has nowhere to go but the family manor house she fled decades ago. Praying that her niece and nephew will be more hospitable than her brother had been, she arrives with nothing but the clothes she stands in, at a loss as to how to rebuild her business while staying in a quaint country village. Her niece, Violet Westcott, is thrilled that her famous aunt is coming to stay—the village has been interminably dull with all the men off fighting. But just as Cressida arrives, so does Violet's conscription letter. It couldn't have come at a worse time; how will she ever find a suitably aristocratic husband if she has to spend her days wearing a frumpy uniform and doing war work? Meanwhile, the local vicar's daughter, Grace Carlisle, is trying in vain to repair her mother's gown, her only chance of a white wedding. When Cressida Westcott appears at the local Sewing Circle meeting, Grace asks for her help—but Cressida has much more to teach the ladies than just simple sewing skills. Before long, Cressida's spirit and ambition galvanizes the village group into action, and they find themselves mending wedding dresses not only for local brides, but for brides across the country. And as the women dedicate themselves to helping others celebrate love, they might even manage to find it for themselves.

30 review for The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle

  1. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan In a country village near London, during WWII, Grace Carlisle's vicar father finds her late mother's wedding dress and presents it to her for her own wedding. The once beautiful dress is moth eaten and in tatters so the local sewing club, doing everything for the war effort to provide clothing for soldiers and citizens, get to work repairing the dress with donated cloth. Doing so leads the women to create a wedding dress lending service, allowing wo The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan In a country village near London, during WWII, Grace Carlisle's vicar father finds her late mother's wedding dress and presents it to her for her own wedding. The once beautiful dress is moth eaten and in tatters so the local sewing club, doing everything for the war effort to provide clothing for soldiers and citizens, get to work repairing the dress with donated cloth. Doing so leads the women to create a wedding dress lending service, allowing women to get married in borrowed wedding dresses that can then go on to the next woman. Violet Westcott's family is the owner of the village's manor and her brother Hugh oversees the manor properties and the village. Both have had it pounded into their heads that they must marry someone who will enhance the family reputation and finances. Until Huge and Grace were fifteen they were best friends but once Hugh was sent to boarding school, they rarely saw each other. Now Violet is having her world shaken by being forced to do war work. Famous fashion designer, Cressida Westcott, has lost her lavish London home and fashion house when both places are bombed during the air raids. All she can do is drag herself back to her family home, a place she left long ago. Now that her brother is dead, the family home belongs to Hugh and she's hoping she can get along with him much better than she got along with her brutish late brother. These three women and the women of the village, come together in the interest of repairing a tattered wedding dress but out of that endeavor comes so much more. I enjoyed seeing the changes in each woman and the men in their lives. I've learned so much about wartime London and the surrounding areas from this book and the two others I've read by this author. Now I understand how even clothing and material was rationed during wartime and afterwards. Women were getting married in their nicest worn clothes or their war uniforms. That is, until women came together and shared what they had, pieced together dresses from parts of other dresses, and used their sewing skills to make useable items out of discards and scraps. I love to learn from historical fiction and I learned so much with this one. Publication: May 31st 2022 Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I found this book to be a pleasant read and rate it 4 bright stars. It is set in WWII Britain. There 3 narrators in the book. Cressida Westcott is a successful dress designer to high fashion, wealthy women in London, England. Then bombs from the Germans destroy her home and her dress store/workshop. She is lucky to be alive, escaping minutes before the bomb destroys her house.She is forced to ask her nephew, Hugh, for permission to move into the family home in Aldhurst village. She left home 2o y I found this book to be a pleasant read and rate it 4 bright stars. It is set in WWII Britain. There 3 narrators in the book. Cressida Westcott is a successful dress designer to high fashion, wealthy women in London, England. Then bombs from the Germans destroy her home and her dress store/workshop. She is lucky to be alive, escaping minutes before the bomb destroys her house.She is forced to ask her nephew, Hugh, for permission to move into the family home in Aldhurst village. She left home 2o years ago after an argument with her father, now deceased. She never married, concentrating on her work. Grace Carlisle is the daughter of the Aldhurst village vicar. She is engaged to another church minister, Lawrence. Violet Westcott is Hugh's sister and something of an immature woman set on marrying a lord with a title. How these 3 women find true love and break out of the roles that that others had set upon them, makes for an enchanting read of love and loneliness in a time of war. The title is about a group of women who set about mending a used wedding dress for Grace and then decide to lend it out to other brides. Clothes are rationed in WWII Britain. Violet quote: "Completely oblivious to how offensive it might sound, Violet declared, 'Who would want to borrow a wedding gown? I shall be ordering a new one, have no doubt about that." Spring scene: "Outside, late spring was at its very finest, the scent of freshly cut grass seeping inside, reminding her of her childhood, the freedom, the escape." The characters are enjoyable to read about, as they deal with wartime shortages, including using brown gravy as a stocking substitute . I have read 3 previous books by the author, all stand alones, all set in WWII Britain. Both my wife and I strongly recommend this book to historical fiction fans. My wife also says 4 stars. I read it in 3 days. The book is based upon stories of wedding dresses being lent to brides across Britain during WWII. #TheWeddingDressSewingCircle #NetGalley Thanks to Morgan Hoit at Ballantine Books/Random House for sending me this eARC through NetGalley

  3. 5 out of 5

    PamG

    The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan is a historical fiction novel with some romance in it. However, it is much more than that. It’s the story of three women, the changes they go through and their impact on others during World War II. Most of the novel is set in the village of Aldhurst in England. Cressida Westcott is a well-known fashion designer who loses both her business and her home in the bombing of London. With only the clothes she’s wearing, she has to return to the family The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan is a historical fiction novel with some romance in it. However, it is much more than that. It’s the story of three women, the changes they go through and their impact on others during World War II. Most of the novel is set in the village of Aldhurst in England. Cressida Westcott is a well-known fashion designer who loses both her business and her home in the bombing of London. With only the clothes she’s wearing, she has to return to the family home in the country, which she fled when she was 20. She has a passion for her work, is opinionated, and her only friends are casual ones in the fashion industry. Her niece, Violet Westcott, is thrilled that her famous aunt is coming to Aldhurst. However, she has just received her conscription letter. Violet is spoiled and very class conscious. Her initial training is a shock to her. Grace Carlisle is the local vicar’s daughter. She is selfless and has taken on much of her father’s visitations and other duties, in addition to working at the village shop. Her father suffers from PTSD from World War I and the loss of his wife. Grace is repairing her mother’s wedding gown at the Sewing Circle meeting and asks for help. Cressida not only helps with that, but also motivates them to do more for brides across the country. The author shows significant character growth in all three women as the story line progresses. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. The characters were likeable, and the focus was on women, the roles others wanted for them, what the women wanted for themselves, and the challenges they faced in achieving them. Other themes included friendship, family, life choices, wartime danger, shortages, and romance. Overall, I learned a lot about these women who had a vision and pursued it relentlessly. The excellent characterization made this book special. The author also did significant research on clothing coupons, rationing, and the sharing of wedding dresses during this time in history. Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books and Jennifer Ryan provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for May 31, 2022.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle is based on true events – when clothes rationing during WWII leaves young brides in challenging situations, a group of women comes up with an idea to start a charity to give out white wedding dresses. In the process, they lift spirits and learn resilience. England, 1942. In the village of Aldhurst, as Grace is preparing for her wedding, she finds her mother’s wedding dress visibly damaged by moths, and in need of mending. Thus, she seeks help with the Sewing Circl The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle is based on true events – when clothes rationing during WWII leaves young brides in challenging situations, a group of women comes up with an idea to start a charity to give out white wedding dresses. In the process, they lift spirits and learn resilience. England, 1942. In the village of Aldhurst, as Grace is preparing for her wedding, she finds her mother’s wedding dress visibly damaged by moths, and in need of mending. Thus, she seeks help with the Sewing Circle. In London, Cressida Westcott, a noted couturier, has just lost her home and her design house in the London Blitz. She is forced to seek shelter with her estranged family in Aldhurst. Estrange from her family, because she is a woman of strong character, who broke from conventions and that put a rift between her and her brother, the late owner of Aldhurst Manor. Violet Westcott is ecstatic to have her famous aunt at the manor, but at the same time she receives conscription letter, which is very problematic for her. She is of aristocratic blood and doesn’t like to mingle with lower class people. But the army conscription opens her eyes to her own hypocrisy. How can she hate being told what to do by her superiors, while also be willing to abide by her aristocratic husband? The backbone of the story is the challenging shortages of clothes during the war, but it is also about one woman helping other women find their voice, not to follow the path they were put on. As Cressida supports the Sewing Circle with her ideas how to mend dresses, she also gives some women much needed boost in confidence. And as she does all the supporting work, she encourages women to take chances in their lives, but will she take her chance? The story weaves a wonderful atmosphere of both the place and its people: the circle of women supporting each other and learning resilience and in an enchanting way presents the village community. The story also intertwines fascinating historical facts. For example, of how unpatriotic it was to simply sit idle. Hands were supposed to be busy with knitting or sewing and supporting either your family or the troops by creating necessary clothing. Despite the dark side of the war, the warm writing spins a magnificent tale of home-front camaraderie, women coming together and supporting each other, showing that by joining forces you can achieve great things. They also grow on an individual level, forge their own paths, and despite all odds find love. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Review originally posted at mysteryandsuspense.com

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    The Chilbury Ladies' Choir author Jennifer Ryan latest WW2 novel is a well researched blend of fact and fiction in an era of clothes rationing where military needs are the priority. It documents the cost of war, with its bombings, hard times and sacrifices in a country where the make do and mend spirit is a necessity that can lead to creative responses. After losing the love of her life in WW1, 40 year old Cressida Westcott poured her entire energies in ensuring that her clothing design business The Chilbury Ladies' Choir author Jennifer Ryan latest WW2 novel is a well researched blend of fact and fiction in an era of clothes rationing where military needs are the priority. It documents the cost of war, with its bombings, hard times and sacrifices in a country where the make do and mend spirit is a necessity that can lead to creative responses. After losing the love of her life in WW1, 40 year old Cressida Westcott poured her entire energies in ensuring that her clothing design business became well known and successful in London, featuring in Vogue, with clients in the highest social circles. After her home and business is bombed, Cressida is left with nothing and forced to return to the Kent village of Aldhurst, and the manor home of her estranged family, nephew Hugh and niece, Violet. She finds herself introduced to the sewing circle doing its best to use any material they can lay their hands on and revamping old clothes. Here Cressida meets the drab, meek, selfless Vicar's daughter, Grace Carlisle, planning her wedding, and wanting to wear her disintegrating mother's wedding dress. Both women work on the beautiful dress, managing to rescue it, it turns out to be the beginning of what turns out to be the Wedding Dress Exchange, a wildly successful scheme to loan women getting married during the war the possibility of attaining their dream of a white wedding dress. The narrative follows the challenges facing Cressida, Violet, initially desperate to marry a wealthy aristocrat and mortified when she is conscripted into the military, and Grace, finding the courage and resilience to forge new lives that are true to who they are. Ryan celebrates the women and their strong sense of community spirit and solidarity that formed the vital response of trying to counter the inescapable bleak darkness of the death and destruction of the war. The sewing circle generates much needed care, friendship, belonging and support, collecting donated wedding dresses and breathing new life into them, providing a woman with a touch of romance, light and joy on their big day, that would otherwise be out of reach. This is replicated in the efforts designers made, epitomised by Cressida, and her new design assistant, Grace, creating morale boosting wartime chic, bringing colour and style to military uniforms and ordinary everyday clothing. This is a heartwarming immersive historical read, full of hope, capturing the turbulent and changing times with reference to social norms and expectations regarding women and class, as illustrated by the three main protagonists. This is for fans of the author and those who love their historical fiction. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kerrin

    The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle is a character driven novel about how three women are changed by World War II. Through unexpected means, each grows into a stronger, happier person. Along the way, their sewing circle starts a program to provide Wedding gowns free of charge. From a historical point of view, it was interesting to learn of clothes rationing and fabric shortages during the war.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a Historical Fiction. I love the characters, and the characters change so much during this book which I really loved. The characters made this book so great. I loved the drama and that this book took place during war, but we are following normal UK people. I loved seeing how the war changed the regular people. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Ballantine Books) or author (Jennifer Ryan) via NetGalley, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this This is a Historical Fiction. I love the characters, and the characters change so much during this book which I really loved. The characters made this book so great. I loved the drama and that this book took place during war, but we are following normal UK people. I loved seeing how the war changed the regular people. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Ballantine Books) or author (Jennifer Ryan) via NetGalley, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that.

  8. 5 out of 5

    RoshReviews

    In a Nutshell: Quite unlike any WWII fiction I have read. Never knew the fashion industry had such a role to play during the war. Lovely characters, good old-fashioned story-telling. Feels like a romance than a war story. Story: 1942, Aldhurst Village, England. Grace Carlisle, the vicar’s daughter. Engaged to a navy chaplain many years her senior. Believes it is her bounden duty to be a dutiful wife and serve the parish where her husband serves. Hugh Westcott, Grace’s childhood friend and now Lor In a Nutshell: Quite unlike any WWII fiction I have read. Never knew the fashion industry had such a role to play during the war. Lovely characters, good old-fashioned story-telling. Feels like a romance than a war story. Story: 1942, Aldhurst Village, England. Grace Carlisle, the vicar’s daughter. Engaged to a navy chaplain many years her senior. Believes it is her bounden duty to be a dutiful wife and serve the parish where her husband serves. Hugh Westcott, Grace’s childhood friend and now Lord of the local manor. Holds a high position in the war office. Believes it is his bounden duty to follow his late father’s instructions and do his best to carry the title ahead. Violet Westcott, Hugh’s younger sister. Interested only in finding a rich titled husband so that she can fulfil her end of the family tradition. Cressida Westcott, Hugh and Violet’s aunt. Owner of successful design house in London and believes that nothing will take her back to her brother’s house again. After a round of intense bombing in London destroys Cressida’s home and design house. She has no choice but to return to Aldhurst to her late brother’s house. This sets off a chain of events that changes the lives of the above characters forever. Along the way, you will meet some gutsy characters and encounter some brilliant ideas of how wedding dresses were made/shared/reused. The story comes to us in the third person perspectives of the three leading ladies. I must confess, I was on a self-imposed break from WWII fiction because the genre had begun saturating me. But after seeing many wonderful reviews for this book from friends here, I succumbed to the temptation and requested a copy from NetGalley. So glad I did so or else I would have missed out on this wonderful story! Where the book worked for me: ❤ Well, it didn’t follow the typical format of recent WWII fiction: no dual timelines, no first person narratives, no single-minded focus on dreary war-related topics such as survival or death (these are included but the narrative doesn’t limit itself to these). I enjoyed the fresh content within the familiar topic. ❤ I liked the main characters. Violet, Grace and Cressida are very interesting and their arcs allow them to experience a range of emotions. (Some part of their character transition is a bit unbelievable but I liked the change.) A couple of the male characters aren’t far behind, unlike most other historical women’s fiction. Hugh and Landon have a great role to play and are carved well enough for you to know them and their thinking. ❤ The whole writing had such an old-worldly charm to it. Nothing OTT. Good characters facing tough situations and learning to change with the changing situations. It is a survival story in many ways, but not in the typical way. ❤ While I had read about coupons and clothes rationing in England during the war, I had assumed that the fashion houses would have been closed either due to shortage of material or because of the war circumstances. Reading about how these houses operated with the limited resources available was an enlightening experience. Ditto for the titular ‘Wedding Dress Sewing Circle’ which bonds all the characters together. The author’s research is evident. ❤ The author’s note was nice to read and it reveals the extent to which a part of the story is based on facts. Where the book could have worked better for me: 💔 It is somewhat clichéd despite the novel topics it contains. There is no suspense, no character conflict. Almost everything is guessable. All character behaviour is predictable. The romances are easy to figure out the minute the character steps on the page. I don’t mind straightforward storytelling but maybe this was a bit too much so. 💔 In many ways, it hardly feels like a WWII story except for the mention of certain ideas as rationing and the blitz. Despite the few reservations I had with the simplistic storytelling, I mostly enjoyed the story. It is a feel-good kind of read and if you read it without over-analysing it or expecting something earth-shattering, you will have a wonderful experience. Recommended to historical war fiction fans who aren’t looking for a grim read. 4 stars. My thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for the DRC of “The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book. *********************** Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    We are part of a circle of women, sharing the same dreams, holding hands through the centuries. They are all there, if you look hard enough, if you untangle the threadwork, peeling away the layers of stitching to find the fragments of lives, of hopes, and of love woven throughout. This book is a delight from cover to cover. Jennifer Ryan has written a masterpiece showing us the camaraderie and pluck of the women during the war. As you will find in her notes, she has a personal connection to the w We are part of a circle of women, sharing the same dreams, holding hands through the centuries. They are all there, if you look hard enough, if you untangle the threadwork, peeling away the layers of stitching to find the fragments of lives, of hopes, and of love woven throughout. This book is a delight from cover to cover. Jennifer Ryan has written a masterpiece showing us the camaraderie and pluck of the women during the war. As you will find in her notes, she has a personal connection to the work that is shared in this book. It is the secret sauce that makes this book great. Come meet Grace, and Violet, and Cressida. You may not fall in love with them at first sight, but trust me, you will all be fast friends at the end. Woven throughout is the vision of "Make Do and Mend," recycling and restoring. And with a title containing "Wedding Dress" in it, there will be a wedding or two or more to enjoy in the midst of the serious war goings on. One of my favorites this year! Thank you to Ballantine Books and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    When fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses her home, design house and all her possessions in one night during the Blitz she returns home to Aldhurst Manor. She left twenty years ago and she hopes her nephew Hugh and niece Violet will be more welcoming than their late father Eustace. She plans on staying long enough to find another place in London to live and a building for her fashion design business. Violet Westcott is Cressida’s niece, she’s excited to see her aunt and life has been rather When fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses her home, design house and all her possessions in one night during the Blitz she returns home to Aldhurst Manor. She left twenty years ago and she hopes her nephew Hugh and niece Violet will be more welcoming than their late father Eustace. She plans on staying long enough to find another place in London to live and a building for her fashion design business. Violet Westcott is Cressida’s niece, she’s excited to see her aunt and life has been rather boring with all the men off fighting in the war. It’s also getting in the way of her finding a suitable husband, when Violet’s conscription letter arrives, she’s mortified, she has to do six weeks of basic training and after she passes her brother Hugh gets her a position close to home as a driver at Darley Grange. Grace Carlisle is the local vicars daughter, her mother died when she was ten and she’s been helping her father with his parish work ever since. Grace is engaged to steadfast Lawrence, she wants to wear her mother’s moth damaged wedding gown and it might be past saving? At the village hall, the local ladies hold the Aldhurst Sewing Circle and mend and make do classes. The women alter and repurpose clothes, there's a huge demand for second-hand clothing and especially for growing children. The dress is almost beyond repair, Cressida agrees to help and she starts attending meetings at the hall. The ladies want to boost morale in England and a way of doing this is to refurbish wedding gowns for brides to borrow for their big day and have the wedding they have always dreamed of. Everyone wishes to experience joy and love and especially during the dark days of WW II in England. Cressida, Grace and Violet become close friends, it changes their outlook and expectations and for the other members of the sewing circle as well. Before they know it, they are being sent and repurposing gowns for brides from all over England, they have a waiting list and Vogue magazine wants to interview them. I received a copy of The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. It’s an uplifting and absolutely delightful story about the power of friendship, women helping other women and finding love when they least expect it. Jennifer Ryan used real details about clothing coupons and rationing at the time and the sharing of wedding dresses in her impeccably researched and well written book and five big stars from me. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/ https://www.facebook.com/KarrenReadsH...

  11. 5 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN* (on hiatus)

    3.5 Stars The book started off with a bang with London being bombarded during WWII. I was drawn in immediately by the fear and horror the character of Cressida Westcott experienced watching her block being obliterated under fire. She was a successful clothing designer with a fashion house and an apartment, both destroyed and leaving her homeless. She wanders the streets with the other evacuees with not much more than a nightgown on her back, and we live this surreal nightmare right along with her 3.5 Stars The book started off with a bang with London being bombarded during WWII. I was drawn in immediately by the fear and horror the character of Cressida Westcott experienced watching her block being obliterated under fire. She was a successful clothing designer with a fashion house and an apartment, both destroyed and leaving her homeless. She wanders the streets with the other evacuees with not much more than a nightgown on her back, and we live this surreal nightmare right along with her. Luckily she hails from a gentrified family with an estate in a quaint village in Kent. It's just that she hasn't been there in ages and never expected to have to go back. She defied her father by not marrying within the titled system and escaping to London for a career. With nowhere to go, she called the estate in advance of her arrival requesting temporary refuge. With her father and brother already passed on, nephew and niece Hugh and Violet politely receive her. One of the things I love reading about during this era is the rationing and making due with what you have. There is a shortage of clothing so garments must be repurposed, repaired and built more simply. A particular problem that crops up is the availability of formal white wedding gowns. A vicar's daughter unearths a very beautiful satin wedding gown with lacy roses worn by her late mother which she hopes to wear for her own upcoming wedding. However, the moths have gotten to it. She brings it to her sewing circle group to see if they have any ideas about how to rehabilitate it. Fortunately, with Cressida in town to lend her considerable designing talents to this group, the project is on a spirited trajectory to rehab the treasured gown, which turned out to be from a famous Parisian designer. It was very interesting to read of the ingenuity of incorporating certain fabrics (such as curtains) in lieu of lace to rehab this gown. Also, this gown was generously offered to be used by any other bride in town that needed it. It spearheaded a vigorous campaign to donate previously used wedding gowns, no matter how old, to help so many other brides. Some brides were so desperate that they utilized white silk parachutes found during the war to serve as material for wedding gowns, which was actually illegal. I am embarrassed to say I got a bit bored around the 50% mark, but pressed on...and I'm glad I did. I was drawn in by the absolutely riveting bombing attack that occurred during a village party event, sending droves of people into shelters, packed shoulder to shoulder into subterranean concrete. It was so realistic I felt I was there, watching the lanterns bob back and forth and wondering if the brick ceiling would split apart and cave in, burying them under rubble. I am not much for WWII themed books, but this one really brought the experience home to me. There were a few romantic conflicts to navigate in the book, and the sense that life is too short to not find actual real love and satisfaction in life, both in romance and women's careers. Overall this was a lovely book, albeit a little longish for me (over 400 pages). Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing-Ballantine Books for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. This is my fourth Jennifer Ryan read and her WWII fiction is top notch. The female characters are always ones that I wish could be friends and by the end of the reading that is what they have become. Seriously, there has to be a streaming service producer somewhere that could turn these novels into fantastic mini-series. In this novel, Ryan takes us to a small English village where Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing-Ballantine Books for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. This is my fourth Jennifer Ryan read and her WWII fiction is top notch. The female characters are always ones that I wish could be friends and by the end of the reading that is what they have become. Seriously, there has to be a streaming service producer somewhere that could turn these novels into fantastic mini-series. In this novel, Ryan takes us to a small English village where a women's sewing circle band together to help each other during a time of war. The novel is narrated by three main characters0 dressmaker Cressida Westcott, the black sheep of a local family that is forced to end her exile and return home, her niece Violet who desires to get married to uphold the family name and just wishes the war would go away, and Grace Carlisle, the daughter of the local vicar who is readying to get married. The novel touches on the topics of female friendships, duty, love, and finding oneself. This will certainly be among my favorite reads of 2022! Expected publication 31/05/22 Goodreads review 08/05/22 #TheWeddingDressSewingCircle #NetGalley.

  13. 4 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4.25 white wedding dress stars This one is set during the war in the countryside village of Aldhurst and features three memorable women. This one really brings home the impact of the war as clothing was rationed and everyone had to mend old clothes and trade children’s clothes to get through. Finding a wedding dress could be a challenge! We meet Cressida Wescott, fashion designer, as her London home and fashion house are bombed one evening and she’s left with nothing. Forced to flee to her childho 4.25 white wedding dress stars This one is set during the war in the countryside village of Aldhurst and features three memorable women. This one really brings home the impact of the war as clothing was rationed and everyone had to mend old clothes and trade children’s clothes to get through. Finding a wedding dress could be a challenge! We meet Cressida Wescott, fashion designer, as her London home and fashion house are bombed one evening and she’s left with nothing. Forced to flee to her childhood home in Aldhurst, she’s anxious to return to London to start over. Cressida’s niece, Violett Westcott, is beautiful and searching for a husband. That plan is soon put on hold when she is conscripted! She’s sent off for training and finds quite a different world! The daughter of the village vicar, Grace Carlisle, is preparing for her upcoming wedding. Her father finds her mother’s old wedding dress, but it’s been damaged by moths and time. The village Sewing Circle comes to the rescue with repairing the gown and Cressida is drawn into village life and finds her talents most welcome. It doesn’t take long until an organized effort springs up around providing wedding dresses for women across England, including those in the armed forces. This sweet tale has a bit of everything – history, characters to root for, and romance. I applaud the author for taking the time to tell each character’s story and to develop them into strong characters. They really grew over the course of book, and I was reluctant to finish this one and say goodbye to them. Thank you to Random House/Ballantine for the chance to read and honestly review this one.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joan Happel

    Three women from different backgrounds, with different hopes and dreams, find a way to forge their own paths amidst the deprivations caused by England’s rationing. A charming story about friendship, resilience and learning to be true to yourself. Cressida Westcott is a London fashion designer who loses both her home and her business during one of the German bombing attacks on London. Finding herself homeless she has no where to go except the childhood home she escaped from years ago, now occupie Three women from different backgrounds, with different hopes and dreams, find a way to forge their own paths amidst the deprivations caused by England’s rationing. A charming story about friendship, resilience and learning to be true to yourself. Cressida Westcott is a London fashion designer who loses both her home and her business during one of the German bombing attacks on London. Finding herself homeless she has no where to go except the childhood home she escaped from years ago, now occupied by a niece and nephew she barely knows. Her niece, Violet Westcott, is excited to have her aunt come to live with them, hoping to alleviate the boredom of life in the small village, but her plans are thwarted when she receives her conscription letter. The local vicar’s daughter, Grace Carlisle, is the backbone of the village and her father’s right hand; always putting others needs ahead of her own. Grace is engaged and wants to wear her mother’s wedding dress, but finds that it needs repair. She brings it to the sewing circle, a group of women who meet to repair and repurpose clothes for the local citizenry. When Cressida and Violet join the other women the soon develop a plan to create a wedding dress exchange for brides who otherwise would not have the white weddings of their dreams. Drawing strength from each other and discovering their true purpose, the three women’s lives are changed dramatically and they soon find that there is more to life than they previously thought. This is the author’s 4th novel set during WWII and the third about England’s home-front. Ryan creates an authentic sense of time and place, along with strong female characters. This is a heartwarming story of the importance of friendships and how women bond together to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. She masterfully blends fiction and fact; immersing the reader into the world of these remarkable women. Richly detailed with a pleasurable plot and just the right amount of romance, I highly recommend this novel for fans of historical fiction and stories about women’s lives. Thank you to Random House Publishing-Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the e-ARC

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jonann loves book talk❤♥️❤

    The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan will make readers feel warm and cozy all over. It is historical fiction based on true events. You will absolutely fall in love with the brave women in this delightful story. Jennifer Ryan, writes in the perfect amount of romance without graphic sex scenes. The talented author visually transports you into the heart of her books. 1942- During the London Blitz: Cressida Westcott is a famous fashion designer. Her clothes are sought after designs often The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan will make readers feel warm and cozy all over. It is historical fiction based on true events. You will absolutely fall in love with the brave women in this delightful story. Jennifer Ryan, writes in the perfect amount of romance without graphic sex scenes. The talented author visually transports you into the heart of her books. 1942- During the London Blitz: Cressida Westcott is a famous fashion designer. Her clothes are sought after designs often featured in Vogue magazine. She is ultra successful until her home and business are destroyed during a bomb raid. Cressida survives the attack, but is forced to go back to the family home where she was raised. There she is reacquainted with her nephew Hugh, niece Violet, and a delightful group of women in a sewing circle. With the help of a incredible young woman named Grace Carlisle, Cressida and the spirited women in the sewing circle soon begin redesigning used wedding dresses into beautiful works of art. These gorgeous dresses are used by brides of that era to help create the wedding of their dreams. I am a historical fiction lover. This book is the perfect example of brave people during war stepping up in hardship to make a silk purse out of a sows ear. That is what love, hope, and strength are all about. Jenner Warner nailed it in her outstanding new book. It will be published May31st. Thank you #NetGalley and #RandomHousePublishingGroup, #Ballantine, for the honor of reviewing this inspiring look back at history. It motivated me to reach out and grab life! Chin up and eyes forward!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    This book is like warm comfort food on a cold wet Sunday afternoon. Historical fiction – WWII – Britain, 1942 - three very different main characters. Cressida Westcott, famed fashion designer has lost her home and fashion house in London to the Blitz. With no other option she is forced to return to her village home from which she fled several years ago to escape her insufferable brother. Now that her brother has passed away the manor house is in the hands of her niece and nephew. Violet Westcott, C This book is like warm comfort food on a cold wet Sunday afternoon. Historical fiction – WWII – Britain, 1942 - three very different main characters. Cressida Westcott, famed fashion designer has lost her home and fashion house in London to the Blitz. With no other option she is forced to return to her village home from which she fled several years ago to escape her insufferable brother. Now that her brother has passed away the manor house is in the hands of her niece and nephew. Violet Westcott, Cressida’s niece is a snooty young lady with the idea that life is about finding, at the very least, a Lord for a husband. Violet made me laugh with her snobbish attitude until she is faced with conscription and must do her part for the war effort. Grace Carlisle, the vicar’s daughter is a shy, mousy young lady engaged to the first man who asked her simply because she believed it was the only proposal she would ever get. Clothes rationing has caused ladies to have to “Make Do and Mend” (as per a pamphlet issued by the British Ministry of Information) so when Grace asks Cressida for help to alter her mother’s moth eaten wedding dress for her wedding Cressida is only too happy to help. The ladies of the village already have a sewing circle but it is Cressida who expands their vision leading to the creation of “The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle”. See: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/make-d... Enjoyable read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Three women connected by love, war, family, and sewing. We meet Cressida who owns a fashion design house but has to go back to her family home since her shop was bombed, Violet who is her niece and who was conscripted, and Grace who is engaged to a vicar. We follow the lives of these three women. All three join a wartime sewing circle. Grace is in need of someone to help her repair her mother's wedding dress and is thrilled to hopefully have someone to help. Since clothing rations are limited to wha Three women connected by love, war, family, and sewing. We meet Cressida who owns a fashion design house but has to go back to her family home since her shop was bombed, Violet who is her niece and who was conscripted, and Grace who is engaged to a vicar. We follow the lives of these three women. All three join a wartime sewing circle. Grace is in need of someone to help her repair her mother's wedding dress and is thrilled to hopefully have someone to help. Since clothing rations are limited to what types of cloth they can use for clothing, Cressida agrees to fix Grace's dress since she loves doing that and has the talent with any fabric. All the women join in and start a "share your wedding dress with others" campaign. So enjoyed learning about this...the "sharing" did happen during the war. THE WEDDING DRESS SEWING CIRCLE is as cozy as the cover and has characters that you will love and characters that will show you how to have compassion, how to not give up on what you want, and how women gather together for support and to help one another and others. A lovely read and another historical fact I was not aware of...enjoy!! 5/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    You'd think a feel-good book set in England in the middle of World War II an oxymoron, but here it actually works, as the tone of the whole is not just romance but working together and making do. Even finding ways to excel--while everyone learns to become a better person. It begins with Cressida, a forty-something who stayed single and became a dress designer. She's ignoring the war, as her business is booming--so much of industry is geared toward war that people are turning to dressmakers. But w You'd think a feel-good book set in England in the middle of World War II an oxymoron, but here it actually works, as the tone of the whole is not just romance but working together and making do. Even finding ways to excel--while everyone learns to become a better person. It begins with Cressida, a forty-something who stayed single and became a dress designer. She's ignoring the war, as her business is booming--so much of industry is geared toward war that people are turning to dressmakers. But when London is bombed yet again, both her house and her design house are flattened. She is left with nothing but the nightgown and coat and shoes she fled in. She goes back to her home village to stay with her niece and nephew, barely known, and reconnects with some childhood friends . . . and slowly the lens widens as we get to know the villagers, and a few visiting allies. Ryan is kind to her characters. They have flaws, but they work to become better people. Meanwhile, the glimpse into the world of rationing from food to clothes is well integrated and fascinating. It matches up with the many letters and diaries I've read from the period. The shadow of war is there--and grief--reminders of the senselessness and cruelty of war. But our focus stays with our main characters, whose meaningful work comes to a lovely ending centered around the wedding dress. It's a kind book, an instant comfort read. Vert welcome these days! Copy provided by NetGalley

  19. 4 out of 5

    ☮Karen

    3.5 stars. I adored this author's The Kitchen Front and was offered a comp copy of this her latest from Penguin Random House through NetGalley. For me, this was a feel good story, as many WWII books attempt to be. When silk and other fabrics grew scarce in Britain, the government asked the people to "Make Do and Mend" clothing. There came a wedding dress shortage, so women were asked to wear their uniforms or street clothes instead. This sewing circle in a small English village would have none of 3.5 stars. I adored this author's The Kitchen Front and was offered a comp copy of this her latest from Penguin Random House through NetGalley. For me, this was a feel good story, as many WWII books attempt to be. When silk and other fabrics grew scarce in Britain, the government asked the people to "Make Do and Mend" clothing. There came a wedding dress shortage, so women were asked to wear their uniforms or street clothes instead. This sewing circle in a small English village would have none of that so began advertising for used bridal gown donations, of which they would loan out the original dress intact, or reconfigure it if damaged. Here the circle grew very close while working to create happiness for others. The gown that started the entire idea was remade and used for three weddings and counting. With all the talk about weddings, of course there is some love and (gasp) romance, but this didn't bother me since it came with so much history and displays of kindness. As with The Kitchen Front, I'm left with a much needed warm and fuzzy feeling. Maybe it will make you feel it too.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    THE WEDDING DRESS SEWING CIRCLE by Jennifer Ryan Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, Ballantine Books Pub Date: May 31 I chose The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle because of author Jennifer Ryan as well as that glorious cover! And the setting of WWII England, which has always intrigued me. So many commodities during the war were rationed, including silk, which was reserved for parachute making only. For the many young women hoping to wear a real wedding gown to their ceremony, three creative wom THE WEDDING DRESS SEWING CIRCLE by Jennifer Ryan Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, Ballantine Books Pub Date: May 31 I chose The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle because of author Jennifer Ryan as well as that glorious cover! And the setting of WWII England, which has always intrigued me. So many commodities during the war were rationed, including silk, which was reserved for parachute making only. For the many young women hoping to wear a real wedding gown to their ceremony, three creative women devise an ingenious solution: Repairing wedding dresses for brides across the country. The author has a compelling way of conveying the heroic spirit of the British, as described beautifully in her earlier novels, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Kitchen Front. That same spark is found in her newest offering, and I found myself totally immersed in the lives of these grand characters and their engaging stories. Highly recommended for histfic fans, for readers drawn to this gripping time period, and for lovers of Jennifer Ryan's splendid books. #TheWeddingDressSewingCircle #JenniferRyan #NetGalley #RandomHouseBallentine #historicalfictionnovel #WWIIEngland #WWIIrationing #sewingcirclesrepairingweddinggowns #spunkyWWIIBritishspirit #womensfictionnovels #bookstagramcommunity

  21. 4 out of 5

    ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀

    4 Stars Another sweet and charming British Home Front book by Jennifer Ryan. Cressida Westcott left her childhood home in Aldhurst Village, England years ago under a cloud. Her older brother, Eustace Westcott, an autocrat and stickler for tradition, demanded that Cressida remain at home as a companion to his wife and nursemaid to this children after her fiance was killed in World War I. Not fancying a life of servitude in the country, Cressida ran off to bohemian Paris where she learned to design 4 Stars Another sweet and charming British Home Front book by Jennifer Ryan. Cressida Westcott left her childhood home in Aldhurst Village, England years ago under a cloud. Her older brother, Eustace Westcott, an autocrat and stickler for tradition, demanded that Cressida remain at home as a companion to his wife and nursemaid to this children after her fiance was killed in World War I. Not fancying a life of servitude in the country, Cressida ran off to bohemian Paris where she learned to design and make clothes; later becoming a successful couturier in London. All of this changes one night early in 1942 when Cressida's London home and business are destroyed during an air raid. With no where else to go, she returns to Aldhurst to stay at the family manor, now owned by her nephew Hugh. In Aldhurst, Cressida's spoilt niece Violet introduces her to the members of the village sewing circle; dutiful vicar's daughter Grace, vivacious Lottie, energetic Mrs. Bisgood, Mrs. Kettlewell and her responsible daughter Martha, and elderly Mrs. Todd. The next six months brings many changes to lives of the women, triggered by the repair of an old wedding dress that belonged to Grace's mother. Clothes rationing and the large number of wartime weddings makes a new white gown beyond the reach of most brides, so the ladies of Aldhurst come up with a plan to help as many brides as they can to have the white wedding of their dreams. While bringing their plan to fruition, friendships are formed, they see the choices they've made in a new light, consider new opportunities, and change their lives for the better. Plenty of sweet romance, a dash of humor, and interesting British home front women's history make this book a delight. Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan is a wonderful WWII-era historical fiction that tells the heartwarming story of a little village in England and all of the amazing inhabitants within and their involvement surrounding the local Sewing group. I just loved it! I have enjoyed several books by Ms. Ryan in the past, and this book is a great addition. It is told in alternating chapters/viewpoints between Grace, Violet, and Cressinda. All three women are tied together by the same small vi The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan is a wonderful WWII-era historical fiction that tells the heartwarming story of a little village in England and all of the amazing inhabitants within and their involvement surrounding the local Sewing group. I just loved it! I have enjoyed several books by Ms. Ryan in the past, and this book is a great addition. It is told in alternating chapters/viewpoints between Grace, Violet, and Cressinda. All three women are tied together by the same small village and some also by relation. All have gone their separate ways and have distanced themselves from their shared past. All are brought together again during the unique circumstances of the war, and through their new and initially “forced” interactions, they begin to bond, form friendships, and join forces within their own Sewing Circle and it ends up becoming so much more. Yes, this book does contain lost loves, romance, and luckily amongst such times of devastation and distress, some happily ever afters. But this story is also about community, helping others, finding your purpose in life, and the strong friendships that are forged between this group of women. I loved reading about the changes, progression, and self-awakenings of the three women. I also truly loved seeing all of the activities and plans that the group participated in to help with mending, designing, donating, and helping others in these times of rationing and scarcity. It was beautiful to see the plans with the central wedding dress as well as the creation of the “pay it forward” in regards to helping other women as well. It was creative, beautiful, and touching. What I love the most is the Author’s note to help let us know how much of these ideas were real, and actually happened. So wonderful! I highly recommend this book. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Ballantine Books/Random House for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 5/31/22.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie Durnell

    Another great WWII historical fiction book from Jennifer Ryan! I so enjoy her subject matter and style of writing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    This is my first read by Jennifer Ryan and I really enjoyed it, fully. This is the story of three women, it takes place in a small village in England in the year 1942. We have Grace the vicars daughter, Cressida who left London after her house and company is bombed in the blitz and we also have the hoity toity Violet, Cressida's niece. This story is told from the point of view of all three women. The writing was so lovely, using such words as ebullient, buoyant and congenial. Such This is my first read by Jennifer Ryan and I really enjoyed it, fully. This is the story of three women, it takes place in a small village in England in the year 1942. We have Grace the vicars daughter, Cressida who left London after her house and company is bombed in the blitz and we also have the hoity toity Violet, Cressida's niece. This story is told from the point of view of all three women. The writing was so lovely, using such words as ebullient, buoyant and congenial. Such beautiful language that really spoke of England in the forties. I really loved the author's use of words. I was pleasantly surprised how this book conveys the way women can teach each other how to be strong and independent, not just someone's arm candy but truly their own person, in her own right. The sense of time and place was clear and I loved how patriotic the village was, true to their country and the village itself. The romance side of the story wasn't easy wishy-washy and was like real life. The war itself wasn't front and center, it was the village and its population that had the story to tell. Such an uplifting read that takes place during a time that wasn't. With many thanks to NetGalley, Jennifer Ryan and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, Ballantine Books for the giving of the ARC. #TheWeddingDressSewingCircle #NetGalley

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karen R

    This is my third Jennifer Ryan book. She is such a talented writer and breathes life into her characters. As with her previous books, The Chillbury Ladies’ Choir and The Kitchen Front, I immediately fell in love with her characters, inspired by their bravery and their support for each other during desperate times. Great relationships and distinct POV’s. A fascinating story based on true events. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This is my third Jennifer Ryan book. She is such a talented writer and breathes life into her characters. As with her previous books, The Chillbury Ladies’ Choir and The Kitchen Front, I immediately fell in love with her characters, inspired by their bravery and their support for each other during desperate times. Great relationships and distinct POV’s. A fascinating story based on true events. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I love historical fiction books like this one that feature a group of strong women across classes who come into their own during the war, finding new found purpose and love along the way. This book was especially interesting with its focus on the cloth shortages and the ways women came together to help one another with wedding dresses and other special occasion items. The author did such a good job interweaving real facts throughout the story seamlessly. Great on audio and perfect for fans of bo I love historical fiction books like this one that feature a group of strong women across classes who come into their own during the war, finding new found purpose and love along the way. This book was especially interesting with its focus on the cloth shortages and the ways women came together to help one another with wedding dresses and other special occasion items. The author did such a good job interweaving real facts throughout the story seamlessly. Great on audio and perfect for fans of books like the Chilbury ladies' choir or The Kew Gardens girls at war. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance review copy!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shirley McAllister

    Mend and Make Do What every bride wants is a white wedding gown. Set during WWII fabric is hard to come by and especially silk fabric. This is a charming story set in a quaint English village where the women come together to solve this problem. It all starts with one moth eaten wedding gown. The characters are wonderful and all fit together in the story. Grace the shy Vicar's daughter engaged to marry Lawrence a Vicar and become a Vicar's wife. She takes her mother's moth eaten gown to the Sewing Mend and Make Do What every bride wants is a white wedding gown. Set during WWII fabric is hard to come by and especially silk fabric. This is a charming story set in a quaint English village where the women come together to solve this problem. It all starts with one moth eaten wedding gown. The characters are wonderful and all fit together in the story. Grace the shy Vicar's daughter engaged to marry Lawrence a Vicar and become a Vicar's wife. She takes her mother's moth eaten gown to the Sewing circle in the village to see if the ladies can help mend it. Violet Westcott and her brother Hugh live at the family manor house. When her aunt Cressida, a fashion designer from London comes to live at the Manor Violet is happy to see her. She has been bored in the village. Alas as soon as her aunt arrives Violet receives a conscription letter to report for service to the war effort. Grace asks Cressida to help with mending her wedding dress. Soon the sewing circle is taking in wedding dress donations and under the guidance of Cressida lending them to brides not only local, but across the country. A story of ladies working together to help other's during the war. It is also the story of romance between many of the couples and those they meet and fall in love with. Some know right away it takes longer for others, but the weddings are all wonderful with the dresses from the sewing circle. A happy, entertaining story of clean romance, sweet beginnings and endings and a village working together. Each character must find his or her own way and solve the feelings and inadequacies they see within themselves. They must find it within themselves to take a chance and go for what their heart longs. I loved this book it was a very good read and I would recommend it. Thanks to Jennifer Ryan for writing such an enjoyable book, to Random House Publishers for publishing it and to NetGalley for making it available to me to read and review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Becka

    I often pass over some historical fiction books as “just another WWII novel”. However, having recently shared a video on my BookTube channel about the numerous historical fiction novels with a fashion focus that are on my shelves, my interest was piqued by The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle. It came as such a pleasant surprise to me that I was hardly able to put this book down. Following the intertwining stories of 3 women as they attempt to support the war effort yet maintain their own identities I often pass over some historical fiction books as “just another WWII novel”. However, having recently shared a video on my BookTube channel about the numerous historical fiction novels with a fashion focus that are on my shelves, my interest was piqued by The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle. It came as such a pleasant surprise to me that I was hardly able to put this book down. Following the intertwining stories of 3 women as they attempt to support the war effort yet maintain their own identities in war-torn Britain, The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle is full of family, grit, determination, strength, and love, sprinkled generously with a fashion theme. Violet, Cressida, and Grace are newfound friends that I won’t soon forget. **This is a clean book, for those who are interested in that information. Thanks go to @NetGalley and @BallentineBooks for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    I received a free digital review copy from the publisher, via Netgalley. In these troubled times, there is no better feel-good haven than one of Jennifer Ryan’s stories of women doing their bit in World War II England. This time around, the focus is on three women. Cressida is a London fashion designer forced to return to her childhood home in the Kent countryside when both her London home and workshop are bombed. She’d left the palatial Aldhurst manor and her oppressive father as soon as she cou I received a free digital review copy from the publisher, via Netgalley. In these troubled times, there is no better feel-good haven than one of Jennifer Ryan’s stories of women doing their bit in World War II England. This time around, the focus is on three women. Cressida is a London fashion designer forced to return to her childhood home in the Kent countryside when both her London home and workshop are bombed. She’d left the palatial Aldhurst manor and her oppressive father as soon as she could, but now she has to ask for the hospitality of her nephew, Hugh. Violet, Cressida’s niece, is a pretty airhead whose ambition extends to marrying a duke—any duke. When Violet is conscripted, she is yanked from her idle self-centeredness and learns that an entirely different way of life is possible. Grace, the local vicar’s daughter is connected to both Cressida and Violet. Cressida was engaged to Grace’s father’s best friend until he was killed in World War I. Grace was a childhood playmate of Hugh’s until his father, seeing a growing attraction between them, forced a separation. The three characters team up with the local Aldhurst sewing circle which, in light of severe clothing rationing and the country’s Make Do or Mend campaign, collects used clothing to repair or repurpose. When Grace accepts the proposal of ambitious clergyman Lawrence, the sewing circle decides to bring Grace’s mother’s moth-eaten wedding dress back to life. This leads to their decision to collect as many old wedding dresses as possible and make them suitable for borrowing by the many brides-to-be who otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy a dress. At a loose end in Kent, Cressida also decides to enter into a design competition that is part of the country’s British Utility Clothing Scheme. The challenge is to make attractive clothing while minimizing the amount of material needed per garment, and forgoing metal fastenings and excessive decoration. The impressive thing about Jennifer Ryan’s books is the way she turns lesser-known WW2 history to her novels’ purposes. For example, the British Utility Clothing Scheme was real, well-known fashion designers contributed designs to it, and the design competition was a splashy event, heavily covered by the press and famous photographer Cecil Beaton. Ryan blends history seamlessly into her stories. She makes it easy for the reader to relate to the characters and their time and place. Her stories are filled with sentiment, but they’re not gloppy, due to additions of humor and some characters who desperately need improvement. If the state of the world has you down and you’re feeling pessimistic about human nature, I recommend a getaway to this story—or any of Jennifer Ryan’s other books.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carol (Reading Ladies)

    4.5 Stars Thanks #NetGalley #BallentineBooks @RandomHouse for a complimentary eARC of #TheWeddingDressSewingCircle by Jennifer Ryan upon my request. All opinions are my own. “Make Do and Mend” In The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle, women come together during the WW11 years to mend, repurpose, and recycle clothing. Led by three spirited women, the sewing circle project to repair a wedding gown grows into mending wedding gowns for local brides and for brides across the country. “The Wedding Dress Exchang 4.5 Stars Thanks #NetGalley #BallentineBooks @RandomHouse for a complimentary eARC of #TheWeddingDressSewingCircle by Jennifer Ryan upon my request. All opinions are my own. “Make Do and Mend” In The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle, women come together during the WW11 years to mend, repurpose, and recycle clothing. Led by three spirited women, the sewing circle project to repair a wedding gown grows into mending wedding gowns for local brides and for brides across the country. “The Wedding Dress Exchange is our way to show that we might be losing our homes, our families, and our normal way of life, but there are some traditions that live on in spite of the Nazis–that romance and hope and love can flourish, no matter what our ememies do. It is a reminder that the most important parts of us…our hearts–will always be free.” Told from multiple viewpoints, The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle is a delightful, uplifting, and gently-told story of the power of friendship during wartime. I grew to love the characters and their unique personalities. I love reading stories about women working together and finding ways to thrive during the difficult days of WW11. A slow-burn romance (closed door) rounds out the story. I greatly appreciated the lovely and thoughtful themes of finding your voice, finding your true self in spite of expectations from parents and/or society, true love/soul mates, tradition, women empowering/supporting women, family loyalty, problem solving, and friendship. “In a good family, you’re loved simply by being part of it, and whatever happens to you, wherever you go, you will always know that you’re loved. It doesn’t matter how successful you are, how beautiful, or how rich. The only thing that matters is that you’re you and that you belong…” “Friendship always sees you through. If you have friends, what more do you need?” “Friends provide more than just company. They form an invisible net that is so strong and wide that it can catch any of us if we fall.” Enthusiastically recommended for fans of women’s fiction with substantial themes and for those who love stories of independent, inspirational women. The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle will appeal to readers who appreciate a story set in England and features women making the best of it during wartime. Fans of Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Kitchen Front will love Ryan’s new release! For more reviews visit www.readingladies.com where this review was first published.

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