The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle – Jennifer Ryan

Published By: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 368
Released On: 09/06/2022

After renowned London fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her design house in the Blitz, she has nowhere to go but the family manor he she fled decades ago. She arrives with nothing but the clothes she stands in, at a loss as to how to rebuild her business from a quaint country village.

Her niece, Violet, is thrilled that her famous aunt is coming to stay – the village has been interminably dull with all the men off fighting. 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 galvanises 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.


Thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this read. Some fiction based on war can be fighting-heavy and quite depressing and scary. But this one was focussed on those back home and it was really quite joyful even amongst their troubles and hardships.

I much preferred the female characters to the men. For me, the men were background people, surplus to requirements, but the women were where the story lies, where the power is. It’s so refreshing to read about strong women in the 1940s, a time where women were not seen as equal to men.

We live in a world of one-use, fast fashion and mass markets. It’s getting better – thanks in part I think to the pandemic – but it’s a real eye-opener to read about a community whose only way of living is through second hand, reuse, the epitome of make do and mend, but it wasn’t moapy or sad, it was rejuvenating, giving new life to things as well as people.

I loved the exquisite detail of dressmaking and tailoring. It isn’t too complicated to follow, but equally does not presume the reader to be completely naive. You can feel the fabrics described and see the garments made. Fashion is often seen as frivolous, especially during time of war, but this book shows just how much it means to have a little joy, a little something just for you when the world around you is crumbling.

As morbid as it may seem, I really enjoy books set in the war. This tugged at my heartstrings in a different way to others. We usually read about soldiers on the frontline or those in concentration camps, but rarely do we read about the sacrifices made and the torment experienced by the everyday folk and I think that makes it more real for the average reader.

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