The latest Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) that this pedometer geek read was a novel received from a First Reads Goodreads giveaway. It is Jane L. Rosen’s debut novel entitled Nine Women, One Dress; her previous book is called The Thread and based on this reader’s enjoyment of Nine Women, One Dress, this reader plans on finding out more about it. Until then, however, this is the extended review.
Nine Women, One Dress
by Jane L. Rosen
Published by Doubleday, 2016
a division of Penguin Random House, LLC
First, however, is a preface to this review which is exemplified by the epigraph of the novel from Yves Saint Laurent: “What is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.” No disagreement here. There are clothes that make a woman feel like she is special. In fact, when it is the right outfit, that woman knows she looks good and is more confident in herself. For this reader, it was having the little black dress (also known as LBD), the perfect little black dress. My mom had one…a classic sheath with a satin bow in the back that she wore only on very special occasions like the Christmas dinner-dance. She looked so elegant, and, I suspect, knew how good she looked as she and Dad went out for the evening.
I, too, understand the power of a LBD. I had the perfect one (not unlike the style shown on the cover of the book except for its having three-quarter length sleeves). When I wore it, however infrequently, I knew I looked good. I even wore it to a dance when I was almost six months pregnant with my older son without anyone being the wiser, but then a year or so later it disappeared never to be seen again. That was over thirty years ago, and I still mourn its loss despite the fact that my closet contains at least eight black dresses, all different.
So it is that I jumped this giveaway book ahead of a few other in the queue because of the description of the story line of this one perfect little black dress and the women who experience the magic of wearing it. (As a rule, I read ARCs in the order received, but I digress.)
In every fashion season, there is one dress, one outfit that everyone clamors to wear. It shows up on the cover of magazines. It can’t be kept in stock and sells out quickly. It is the “IT” dress…and in this story it is the little black dress that has that certain something, that magic. In fact, it is the story–that and the women who get to wear it and how it affects their lives, or feel that it does.
Although titled Nine Women, One Dress (and nine women do appear in the story), interwoven between these nine, are the more complete stories of three women: Felicia, Andie, and Natalie, and how this LBD plays a huge role in their lives. For all of the women, their lives are forever changed as this dress passes through their hands in some manner.
Briefly, Natalie, mooning over her ex, is a salesgirl at Bloomingdale’s Department Store; Andie is a private detective with a talent for uncovering cheating spouses; and Felicia is an executive assistant who has been secretly in love with her boss for years. Each of these women are changed by the wearing of the Max Hammer designer dress. With the help of friends, family, business associates, co-workers, and acquaintances, they all are transformed as is appropriate to their individual situation.
Yet, it is also the story of Morris Siegel, the designer of this Max Hammer dress, and his story of an unlikely immigrant who is successful at his business one last time. For this reader, some of the most heartfelt moments, particularly the ending, relates to Morris.
Throughout the novel, there are moments of humor and poignancy, moments to make a reader laugh or cry respectively. Each woman is very different, and their stories are different, yet the connections between the dress and the women makes the novel a wonderful reading experience. I think anyone who loves fashion, smart, sassy women, loyal friends, and the power of a dress will enjoy this novel. As Morris says, “A beautiful dress holds a little bit of magic in it.” (p. 256). Experience the magic; read the book.