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The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle    by Jennifer Ryan order for
Wedding Dress Sewing Circle
by Jennifer Ryan
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jennifer Ryan (author of The Spies of Shilling Lane, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, and The Kitchen Front) brings us another feel-good and compelling novel focused on women in wartime in The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle.

In 1942 Britain, each person had an annual clothes allowance of forty coupons, where a woman's coat took eighteen and a skirt seven. Women wed in their uniforms or what clothing they could scrounge from friends. This is the background to this delightful tale, which alternates between the voices of three women - renowned fashion designer Cressida Westcott, her entitled young niece Violet, and vicar's daughter Grace Carlisle - who works constantly for others and doesn't value herself nearly enough.

Cressida is forced out of her home by the London Blitz, and seeks refuge with the family she fled decades before - they take her in and she becomes close to her nephew and niece. Violet is upset when she's conscripted and trained as a car driver and mechanic, but gradually adjusts to war work. She changes for the better along the way. Grace has agreed to marry her father's former curate, though they have little in common and he seeks only a helper in a life of service.

Grace wants to repair her mother's wedding gown for her own upcoming nuptials and seeks help at a local Sewing Circle meeting. You can guess where this is heading. Cressida is pulled into the Sewing Circle as is Violet. Friendship - and romance - grows for all three of them, as wedding dress renewal takes off across the country.

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