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The Dress Shop on King Street

by Ashley Clark

Series: Heirloom Secrets (1)

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The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark is a Bethany House publication.

Such a wonderful uplifting story!!

In 1946 Millie, a young woman of mixed heritage is leaving Charleston by train, with a couple of heirloom buttons and the dream of owning her own dress shop, when she meets a train jumper who changes her life…

In present day, Harper Albright has returned to Alabama after her dreams of a career in fashion are dashed. Here she reconnects with Millie, the woman who first taught her to sew. Millie senses Harper needs some time to regroup and offers her a place to stay at her boarding house.

This string of events will merge the past with the present, as Millie’s story is finally revealed, possibly leading to an opportunity for both she and Harper to realize their true dreams.

I loved this story! It’s so sad and heartbreaking, but is also moving, inspirational and heartwarming. As is usually the case with multiple timelines, the historical side of the story was the most effective, in my opinion. Millie’s journey is riveting as she navigates through treacherous waters, finds true love, but faces the most heart wrenching choices along the way.

The characterizations are rich and vivid, and the story is teeming with tension, and joy, highs and lows and triumphs and failures. It’s about life and the unforeseen curveballs and trials, and a reminder that we don’t have to carry our burdens alone and, that maybe things work out best in God’s good time.

The author does an incredible job of handling sensitive topics, incorporating a gentle message, and creating such a beautiful story, it lingered in my heart and mind for long after I turned the final page.

Overall, this is such a refreshing story and an impressive debut!! Will read this author again! ( )
  gpangel | May 1, 2021 |
A heartfelt novel of dreams, loss, love, heartache, and the history that makes us who we are.

Tracing forwards and back lingering on pivotal moments in Millie's life, as well as the stories of Harper and Peter, as they entwine in the past and present day. A beautifully immersive read, with captivating characters that tell their stories and search for answers. Even though the story wends its way through various points in time the lines of the story were easy to follow, and I didn't find myself getting confused and enjoyed watching the pieces come together.

This book explores various themes, from the pain of racism, casting two shadows, the ties that bind you to your past, and following your dreams, all infused with faith that shines hope into the darkest days. Millie is an extraordinary woman, full of wisdom, gumption, and faith, and I loved following her through the turning points in her life, as well as her relationship with Harper and how she encourages her in her dreams and love. Peter is a man with big dreams too, he loves reviving pieces of history to preserve their history, while searching for the answers to his own.

Overall, a gorgeous blending of past and present, taking inspiration from real life heart rending choices that many had to make. Romance, heartbreak, and dreams realized, I loved everything about this novel. Highly recommend!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. ( )
  labornotinvain | Mar 23, 2021 |
Author Ashley Clark uses Charleston, South Carolina and Fairhope, Alabama as the settings for this dual-time book that alternates between 1861 and present time. I loved Millicent Middleton with her red cloche hat and the two butterfly buttons that are such an integral part of both stories. Millie yearns to own her own dress shop and this desire remains with her most of her life, through her struggles with racism, tragedy, and her decision to conceal her own bi-racial identity. In the modern day story Harper Dupree dreams of being a dress designer and Millie plays an important role in her story also. It was Millie who taught Harper to sew as a child and now, as they both find themselves back in Charleston, it is Millie who may be the grantor of all of Harper's dreams.

The Dress Shop on King Street is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, even in the worst of times. This powerful story reminds us that even though the ugliness of racism has long existed, it can be conquered with hope and love. Millie and Franklin Pinckney's love story took my breath away and the possibility of the same for Harper and Peter Perkins kept me turning the pages. Several surprising twists made this a book that I couldn't put down!

Clark uses the true legacy of Rose Middleton, her young daughter Ashley, and a cloth sack filled with a dress, pecans, and a braid of hair, to create a stunning debut novel that I won't soon forget. I recommend The Dress Shop on King Street to all who enjoy historical fiction and Christian romance.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House. There was no obligation to post a favorable review and I am voluntarily sharing my own thoughts. ( )
  fcplcataloger | Feb 16, 2021 |
The Dress Shop on King Street is a sobering yet hopeful tale that I fell head over heels in love with. Showing the passing of time in both the past (the 194o's) and the present, the reader witnesses the simple, yet fascinating life of Millie Middleton, the daughter of an Italian father and African-American mother, who is forced to hide her heritage in hopes of a better life, and ripping her family apart.

Millie carries this secret for years, hiding her true self from those closest to her, and the mental torture she endures while dealing with the prejudice of the times is unimaginable to me. My heart was torn apart as I witnesses the blessings and curses that Millie endured through her life, several moments bringing tears to my eyes at the unfairness of it all, and yet Millie herself was the light of the story, a woman filled with such love and grace, and touching my own heart.

Harper's story, which is told in the present, was also a joy to read, and not just because I loved reading all the details about the vintage dresses that she repaired. Though she has a hard hit to her ego at the beginning of the book, you get to behold her and Millie together fight for their dreams, and discover the satisfaction of fighting for your hearts desire.

Reading The Dress Shop on King Street filled me with unexplained nostalgia, thankfulness for all the unknown blessings that I take for granted, and hope that maybe someday my greatest dreams could come true. It is apparent that the author poured her heart and soul into this novel, and for that I am grateful, as Millie's story truly evoked deep emotions within me, reminding me of lost dreams of my own that I would love to one day see come to fruition. It's a great reminder that it's never too late.

There are so many parallels between the past and the present that are so eloquently stitched together, creating a beautiful tapestry of family, love, fighting the struggle, and finding the truth to be who you were meant to be and not giving your reverie away to fear. To see a family torn apart by prejudice and then to witness it be mended together again was so poetic. I truly loved every aspect of this deep and eye-opening novel and is another MUST READ of 2021 for me.

*I have voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book which I received from the author/publisher through NetGalley. All views and opinions are completely honest, and my own. ( )
  cflores0420 | Feb 10, 2021 |
The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark started out rough. While well-written, the heartbreaking situations in the first few chapters made it difficult to continue into the novel. However, I persevered to discover a dual-timeline story full of love, fear, and redemption. My journey with Harper and Millie reaped rewards as the deep themes of the book settled in my mind.

The Dress Shop on King Street plunged into issues relevant to modern society. Racism, in the past and present, deeply affected Millie and her decisions. Disillusionment drove Harper to turn from her dreams. Yet, I loved the novel’s theme of redemption – for people, items, and history. Threads about discovering and preserving history weave through the novel as characters seek to understand their family history, restore vintage pieces, and cultivate hope for the present and future.

I enjoyed the slow, deep exploration of issues in The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark. Readers who enjoy dual timeline fiction that dives into painful issues and searches for hope will likely enjoy this novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. ( )
  BeautyintheBinding | Feb 5, 2021 |
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