Menna van Praag
**I received an e-copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
I also think it's good to know that I am the one who requested this, after I saw Sarah Addison Allen recommend it. And I'm so glad she did. This book was awesome. I didn't read it very fast because I didn't want to reach the end. Menna made me care so much for the characters that I couldn't stand it when they were doing it wrong! I wanted to shake them sometimes.
This is about a woman who stitches magic into the dresses she sells, Etta. She has a granddaughter, Cora, who is....a little socially awkward, but really she just has no interest in people or feelings. And Etta's neighbor and bookshop owner, Walt, who has loved Cora since he first met her as a little boy. They are the main characters. Secondary characters include Walt's boss, Walt's wanna-be-girlfriend, a police detective determined to help Cora solver the mystery of her parents death, and a priest whom Walt often confides in.
This book has wonderful flow between all the characters. And even when you can't stand who they are with, you don't dislike any of them. You just want them to get with the right people. There is such a sad undertone in everyone's life, but at the same time she touches all of them with the joy that only living can bring.
The basic plot is that Walt wants Cora to love him, and Etta wants Cora to open her heart and start feeling things already. Even if that means moving through the grief of losing her parents when she was a girl. Once she does that, Etta tells Cora what she has always suspected - the fire that killed her parents was no accident. That sends Cora off to investigate, while Walt is reeling from the assumed rejection from Cora. He decides to move on and meets Milly, but can he love her?
My favorite character was Devin, Walt's boss. He is such a sad man, and such a good man. When he isn't at work, he is caring for his aging father - who is suffering dementia. A while ago he started answering Walt's fan mail, and in that time he has learned so much about women. He had no idea that women had such feelings and realized what an fool he's been. It renders him immobile, until a love letter arrives for Walt.
There's a touch of magic in these pages.