Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dress Shop of Dreams” as Want to Read:
The Dress Shop of Dreams
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dress Shop of Dreams

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  6,010 ratings  ·  948 reviews
For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked awa
Paperback, 326 pages
Published December 30th 2014 by Ballantine Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dress Shop of Dreams, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Menna van Praag Hi Rekha,

Thanks so much for your question! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. I was first inspired by the street: All Saint's Passage, a place I've al…more
Hi Rekha,

Thanks so much for your question! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. I was first inspired by the street: All Saint's Passage, a place I've always found enchanting, ever since I was a little girl. It's a street with magic in it. So then I imagined the shops (in addition to the real ones) that might populate the street. I love dresses - I buy all mine at Karen Millen on Market Street, Cambridge, they are quite beautiful! - and don't you find that you can feel totally transformed by a perfect dress? So I began thinking about magic dresses that could actually change your life! And so the story began to unfold...(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,010 ratings  ·  948 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Dress Shop of Dreams
Diana | Book of Secrets
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a sweet and enchanting love story! Etta runs a very special shop where she sells dresses stitched with a wee bit of magic to help her customers' wishes come true.

One person Etta longs to help is her granddaughter, Cora. Cora's parents died when she was young, and for most of her life, she's hidden herself away doing research as a scientist. She's oblivious to the fact that her lifelong friend, Walt, is madly in love with her.

Worried that Cora will lose Walt, Etta does a little magical medd
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
4 Meant To Be Stars * * * *

Take one part beautiful crafting; mix with a dash of magical play and add just the right amount of intricate weaving of characters. The events all happen on crossing train tracks ... always just missing their connections.
But no worries, because in the end... everyone gets where they should be going, including the readers.

A very smart read.

A gifted copy was provided by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley for an honest review.

For more Reviews, Fre
Dale Harcombe
In Cambridge is a dress shop run by Etta. But this is no ordinary dress shop. These special dresses are able with a few stitches making red stars from Etta, to reveal a woman’s deepest desires. Etta has not to date been able to work the same magic on her granddaughter Cora. Cora, who has been raised by her grandmother since her parents were killed when she was five, loves Etta but has little interest in the dress shop. Cora’s focus is science and she devotes so much time to her work that she is ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last year I fell in love with Meena Van Praag's House At the End of Hope Street, so I was very excited to read her latest book, The Dress Shop of Dreams. There's something about her books that suck you into the pages and you find yourself reading way past bedtime. It makes you wish that the characters were real and that you could actually visit Etta's dress shop.

Trying to explain this story in a nutshell is a hard job. First you have Etta. She's kind of a magician, but not in the pull-a-rabbit-o
Andrea at Reading Lark
Review Posted on Reading Lark 11/27/14:

I was attracted to this novel after seeing that it was recommended for fans of Sarah Addison Allen, one of my favorite authors. I love how Allen tackles magical realism and I was excited to see how Menna van Praag would tackle the genre. Writing a strong magical realism novel takes skill and finesse. The magic element can't drive every aspect of the novel; it needs to linger like the smell of a perfume once someone h
Jan 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
1.5 Stars

Lately I can't seem to find the patience, or the will, to write reviews. Especially for books that I don't like ( which unfortunately seems to be the rule lately).

I feel emotionally drained at all levels, so my patience for half-assed stories is even more reduced.
This was my first story by the author, and most likely will be my last...

Some writing styles and stories work out for me, others don't: what is supposed to feel magical realism feels lame to me, and sometimes I just feel like
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received an Advanced Readers Copy from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley for an honest review. Thank you very much

I LOVED this book and I adored the idea of sewing magic into dresses in fact I found it very very inspiring. This book has everything, magic, love stories (4 in total) and a crime to be solved which kept me guessing right to the very end. It had so many twists and turns along the way. This book is a definite page turner and will keep you up into the small hou
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
What an enchanting book! I couldn't put it down and read it within one day (mainly one evening) first, it's totally clean. Not even sure there was one curse word? Oh yes, one or two but not gratuitous. It fit. Trust me. It was so magical and enchanting how all the characters fit together and came together perfectly in the end. I can't really even describe it well without giving spoilers away. So just read this book. This one will stick with me for a long time!! ...more
I would actually give this book 3.5 stars, it was a good story, nothing wrong with that but I was expecting more.
There was a magical feel to the dresses in the shop ,but I never felt a connection to the magic.
I liked the love of books & reading in the book & I liked the characters .
For some reason the story had an old feel to it,I know it was in current time but it could have been from 40 years ago.

I was given an advance copy of this book by net galley, in exchange for an honest review.
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magical-realisim
I love this book, and I absolutely adore Walt! He's my kind of hero: British, bookish and awkward. ...more
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
I enjoyed this magically real tale of lonely British people whose dreams of love often go wrong: Cora, a OCD bachelorette scientist, her apparently psychic seamstress grandmother, Etta, who unerringly matches her customers with just-the-right romantic dresses, a lovelorn bookseller named Walt who moonlights as a Night Reader on a literary radio show, a priest who still dreams of the woman he lost fifty years ago. Walt's voice weaves such a spell on his female listeners that he is sent sacks of f ...more
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Four and a half stars: A delightful, magical, romantic read. A must read for fans of magical realism.

Cora awakens from the same recurring dream she has had over and over since her parents died on her fifth birthday. Cora shakes it off and proceeds about her day. As a scientist, Cora has little time for dreams, magic and love, unlike her grandmother, Etta. Etta runs a delightful, magical dress shop where she is able to help women find their heart's desire with the perfect gown and a few stitches
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a lovely book! I could see it like a magic puzzle in my head with all the pieces moving around and then finally joining up together in the end in a perfectly perfect way. Such a wonderfully satisfying read! This book is beautifully written and the landscape and emotion was so lovingly described. The characters were all lovely and even though I felt like I should think that Milly was a home wrecker I still loved her and I was completely invested in her happiness ... that is a sign of goo ...more
3-3.5 stars...

Dress shop of Dreams is a good book, but not great. I think maybe my expectations got a little too high when I saw comparisons to one of my favorite authors, Sarah Addison Allen--Her books are an emotional journey. This fell a little short of this for me. It was a cute story with hints of magic, quirky characters, and a good ending. Etta, Cora, Walt, Milly, Sebastian...all have stories to tell that will intermingle. I just felt something was missing. I've heard good things about he
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-ebook
I agree that this book is comparable to Sarah Addison Allen's books. It is an enchanted story with great characters and magical moments. I loved the ending. Absolutely charming! ...more
Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Van Praag’s latest is filled with magic, love and the bonds of family. The writing is thoroughly engaging and will whisk readers away to a place where anything is possible. Detailed, likable characters and a swift-moving plot combine for a wonderful reading experience.
Cora Sparks’ parents died under mysterious circumstances when she was a child. As an adult, she has little memory of her childhood. Cora immerses herself in scientific research, carrying on her parents’ work. Walt, the owner of the
Catherine  Pinkett
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a lovely book. At first I thought it was going to be just another love story but it was so much more than that. It was heartwarming with well developed characters and decent plot. It had lovely elements of magic which made this book stand out from the rest.
Love conquers all.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this a lot, though not quite as much as I had The House at the End of Hope Street. For some reason, this novel felt more 'conventional' than The House (even though both books are along 'magic realism' lines and as such not really conventional as such).

What I mean by that is that I feel that The Dress Shop of Dreams is more informed by the tropes/stereotypes about 'true love' and by what women supposedly need than The House, or perhaps it's just the The House handles them more adeptly.
Odette Cortés
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a long time. The story has a smidge of magical realism that really worked for me. Menna Van Praag has the ability of finding something enchanting about the most normal and mundane tasks that bring magic to everyday life.

The Dress Shop of Dreams follows the lives of server characters that are connected through by different reasons, mainly love and fate. Though sometimes blinded by their own fears, Etta, a dress shop owner, gives them a little push by using a
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, netgalley
Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me this wonderful book to review.

What a great start to 2015! The Dress Shop of Dreams is just exquisite, full of magical realism along the lines of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen. The writing is beautiful and the characters are so well developed. There were so many moments where I just stopped and read the words again for pure enjoyment. The story is full of love and hope and even a little mystery.

Etta, grandmother to Cora, sells dresses that can all
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
First sentence: When ordinary shoppers stumble into the little dress shop, they usually leave without buying anything.

My favorite quote: In my experience even inanimate objects have a will of their own, and they won't be found until they want to be, until they're good and ready, she says.

I loved this little poem from the story:

I long for
a little life,
an everyday life,
a splash of sunlight
through a window
a smile from a stranger -
a heart to hold in mine.

This story grew on me. I love any story with
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book. 4 love stories wrapped in a murder mystery and a little magical fantasy. This is a book you'll read again and again. Etta runs a dress shop where the perfect dress picks you and helps you achieve your fondest wish and dreams. Her granddaughter Cora is an academia who has shut off all emotions since her parents died in a fire 20 years ago. Henry is the police office who wants to help Cora find the person who set the fire that changed her life so drastically and Dylan is Wal ...more
Karen Beck
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I finished this book FIVE days ago. It was so magical that I still cannot start my next book!

I liked Cara...I can identify with her OCD-ness and counting of things.


My friends call me(lovingly, I hope) the 'book-bully'. Well, I am invoking my bully-prerogative' now and saying....'GO READ THIS BOOK...NOW!'
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Most people think this world we live in is mundane, you remind us that it's magical. You wrap reality in the wonder and joy of fiction, until it infuses us and becomes true.”


Full review at:
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
WELL WASN'T THAT A PWETTY BOOK! I honestly think it could've been quite a bit shorter, as it was starting to drag as we got closer to the end, BUT STILL. GO READ IT EVERYONE. It is truly the most beautiful story of ever.

Full to the brim with beautiful characters and delicious writing, reading this book was very like eating a massive cake and not feeling sick after it. ^_^
❂ Murder by Death
A really enjoyable story about a lot of people looking for the same thing, each in their own way. I found myself interested from page 1 and I thought the writing was much better than average. Best of all, I found a new author and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Full review:
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
I feel like the grinch saying this but I just didn't like this book. I felt the characters were flat, the writing style was difficult and the magical element just wasn't real feeling. I know others liked it but I honestly kind of hated it.
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Very enjoyable, charming, read! A bit of magic, great characters, and a cute story. I recommend to my friends who like Sarah Addison Allen, The Glass Kitchen, or The Wedding Bees.
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had it all. A little bit of magic and intrique, secrets kept and secrets revealed. A bit of mystery and answers found. And best of all a lot of love. I want a dress from Etta's shop. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Mar 19, 2015 07:01AM  
Book-A-Holics, No...: The Dress Shop of Dreams 9 14 Jan 20, 2015 09:08PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Night Garden
  • The Wishing Thread
  • First Frost (Waverley Family, #2)
  • The Sugar Queen
  • Season of the Dragonflies
  • The Peach Keeper
  • Lost Lake (Lost Lake, #1)
  • The Girl Who Chased the Moon
  • The Book Charmer (Dove Pond, #1)
  • Midnight at the Blackbird Café
  • The Secret Ingredient of Wishes
  • The Ghost of Second Chances (Haunting Danielle #17)
  • Garden Spells (Waverley Family, #1)
  • South of the Buttonwood Tree
  • The Ghost and the Doppelganger (Haunting Danielle #16)
  • The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love, and Manners
  • Solstice Wood (Winter Rose, #2)
  • The Firefly Dance
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Menna van Praag was born in Cambridge, England and studied Modern History at Oxford University. Her first novella - an autobiographical tale about a waitress who aspires to be a writer - Men, Money & Chocolate has been translated into 26 languages. Her magical realism novels are all set among the colleges, cafes and bookshops of Cambridge. The House at the End of Hope Street (2014), The Dress Shop ...more

Related Articles

Jennifer Weiner is the author of many bestsellers, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and Mrs. Everything. She's also a contributing opinion...
97 likes · 27 comments
“When is cake ever for hunger? It's for flavor and, in this case, comfort.” 11 likes
“One proton of faith, three electrons of humility, a neutron of compassion and a bond of honesty,” Robert said, winking at his daughter. “What’s that?” Cora frowned, confused. Maggie laughed. “That, according to your father, is the molecular structure of love.” 8 likes
More quotes…