An intriguing blend of contemporary and historical: "The Dress Shop on King Street" by Ashley Clark
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.
Blending together two story-lines, one set in our contemporary world, and one taking place in the mid-1900s, Ashley Clark has offered up an intriguing novel that held me captive from start to finish. I greatly enjoyed the character of Millie in particular, as she arises from a childhood forever marred by racism, and finds herself making impossible choices as she pursues her dreams with the support of her mother. Watching the impact of her decisions was at times heart-breaking to behold, and I found myself wishing she could have chosen differently, but not knowing what that even could have looked like.
The character of Harper offers up an interesting contrast to Millie's experiences, as she doesn't have the same tragedies in her past with the same racial overtones as Millie, and yet her own losses in her childhood colour her difficulty in pursuing her own dreams. Despite the differences, she finds herself paralyzed by the same kind of fears Millie does, and I think readers will be able to recognize some of the same doubts and worries that held these characters captive, and appreciate the way the author deftly helps these characters overcome. Ashley Clark does a wonderful job at weaving their stories together, and the result is a tale that is filled with second chances and healing and even some heart warming romance along the way for both of these characters as well.
Ashley Clark has offered up a solid debut with this first installment in the Heirloom Secrets series, a tale fill with emotion and hardship and beauty all at the same time. I greatly enjoyed "The Dress Shop on King Street" and encourage readers to give Clark a try! I am sure you will be well pleased and, if you are like me, will be left looking forward to what is next in store for this series! 4 out of 5 stars.