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Three plucky women lift the spirits of home-front brides in wartime Britain, where clothes rationing leaves little opportunity for pomp or celebration—even at weddings—in this heartwarming novel based on true events, from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.
After renowned fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her design house in the London Blitz, she has nowhere to go but the family manor house she fled decades ago. Praying that her niece and nephew will be more hospitable than her brother had been, she arrives with nothing but the clothes she stands in, at a loss as to how to rebuild her business while staying in a quaint country village.
Her niece, Violet Westcott, is thrilled that her famous aunt is coming to stay—the village has been interminably dull with all the men off fighting. But just as Cressida arrives, so does Violet’s conscription letter. It couldn’t have come at a worse time; how will she ever find a suitably aristocratic husband if she has to spend her days wearing a frumpy uniform and doing war work?
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 galvanizes 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.
About the Author
Jennifer Ryan is the author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, The Spies of Shilling Lane, and The Kitchen Front. She was previously a nonfiction book editor. Originally from Kent and then London, she lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband and two children.
Praise for The Kitchen Front
“A charming tale that will satiate a lot of different tastes . . . This story had me so hooked, I literally couldn’t put it down to cook.”—NPR
“World War II–era England wasn’t a happy place, but one can always find joy in cake and tea. . . . Four women, who have different reasons for competing, take solace in one another as they create recipes out of rationed ingredients. It’s like re-watching old episodes of The Great British Baking Show.”—The Washington Post
“A positively uplifting read that is as soothing as a warm cup of Earl Grey on a gloomy morning.”—Booklist
Praise for The Spies of Shilling Lane
“This tale swept me away!”—First for Women
“[A] quick and delightful mystery . . . Ryan’s subtlety shines in her acknowledgment of the importance of remembering the people who pass through our lives and in her descriptions of how war and conflict can teach empathy and change people for the better.”—The New York Times Book Review
Praise for The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir
“A delightful debut.”—People
“There’s so much happening in Chilbury: intrigue, romance and an unforgettable cast of characters who aren’t always as they appear. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is a charming slice of English wartime life that warms the soul like a hot toddy.”—Martha Hall Kelly, New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls