The Secret Lives of Dresses
5 Spot (Grand Central), Feb 10 2011, $13.99
Dora Winston majors in “vagueness studies”, which means in this case aimless time and space. She is attracted to her grad student boss at the coffee shop, but he ignores her outrageous flirting.
However, when a hospital informs Dora that her beloved grandma Mimi, who raised her, suffered a stroke, Dora returns home to Forsyth, North Carolina to be with her. Dora also takes over running Mimi’s vintage clothing boutique while her grandma heals. The two employees Gabby and Maux prove very helpful, but it is finding tidbits of Mimi’s life that excites Dora especially the stories about the dresses in the store. When Dora and Conrad, the contractor renovating the apartments above the store, meet, they find they are attracted to one another.
The three wise women are wonderful eccentric characters with much of what Dora and the readers learn of Mimi come from her dress tales. Conrad is fully developed too, but in some ways feels more like a genre requirement because the coming of age heroine needs a male lead. Like the rest of Dora’s journey from vague nothingness to relational enlightenment, the trek lacks evil witches and flying monkeys, but is still fun to accompany the amusing threesome guide the heroine down her yellow brick road.