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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie's past are brought to light. In 1946, Millie Middleton--the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman--boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future. Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they've both dreamed of. But it's not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams…

Overall Book Review:

The Dress Shop on King Street is a sweet Southern tale of finding family and following dreams. Written by Ashley Clark, this well-crafted historical fiction alternates between two characters–Harper and Millie. Millie’s story ranges from her youth to old age and is particularly poignant. She gracefully navigates challenge after challenge, while always working on her dream of owning a dress shop. The story is fraught with mystery, romance, and jumps between several time periods. The Dress Shop’s strength is in Clark’s use of vivid descriptions and detail. Readers will feel like they are actually in Fairhope, Alabama and Charleston, South Carolina. A major theme in the book is race and passing for white. Clark includes Book Club questions to allow groups to have meaningful discussions. The Dress Shop on King Street is a delightful read! 

Review of Digital Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Bethany House Publishers

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation.

Violence/Gore:  Several secondhand reports of violence including a church bombing and a man beaten to death; a few brief scenes of violence including a fight between a drunk man and old woman and a thrown brick through a front window. 

Sex/Nudity:  Several incidents of kissing; a few implied occurrences of sexual activity between a master and slave. 

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of family members, murder, racism, biracial, slavery and being sold, separation of families, church bombing, fistfight, death serving in Armed Forces, panic attacks. 

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Two drunks attack an old woman.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.