Antonia Ashton has it all: a thriving business in the city of St. Louis, a promising relationship, and some distance from the small town where she grew up. But one night, things go awry when she discovers that her relationship is not what she thought it was.
Back in Blue Hills, Missouri, Evie Ashton, Antonia’s mother, is frantically searching for something in her old, dusty attic. She has had flashes of visions and dreams of her long lost sister Anna, and is determined to somehow reconnect with her. But something happens in the attic that day, and it changes the lives of both Evie and Antonia.
Moments in the lives of these women converge when Evie’s stroke puts her in the hospital and sends Antonia back to help out. But Antonia discovers that, not only must she sort through her mother’s clutter to put her house in order, she must also uncover the secrets that upended this family many years ago.
Over the pages of Little Black Dress: A Novel, we learn of a strange and somewhat magical dress that Anna purchased the night before her wedding, and how whatever she saw when she wore it sent her running. We also see how the dress has affected Evie, and now Antonia.
What is the secret of this dress, and what magical elements does it possess? How does it change lives?
Even if you don’t believe in magic, you will find this story captivating as it spotlights the interior world of three wonderfully drawn characters. I enjoyed the way Evie’s story continued throughout the book, alternating in chapters with Antonia, even though she is in a coma in a hospital bed. It’s as if we’re seeing flashbacks, or perhaps we’re just seeing her back story. As different as the mother and daughter are, the commonalities stood out in stark relief as we learned of their dreams, their hopes, and how the past shaped each of them.
With each chapter, we come closer to learning what actually happened between Anna and Evie, and even though I guessed the secret long before it was revealed (which is why I deducted one star), there were pieces of it that totally surprised me in the end. Four stars for this wonderful story.