Toni Ashton is certain that her cautious accountant boyfriend is about to propose and this wedding and events consultant is going to finally get to plan her own wedding instead of other peoples'. Instead, she gets a phone call telling her that her mother has had a stroke and is in a medically induced coma. She rushes home, not ready to lose her mother, despite the two of them having had a difficult relationship for quite a while. Once home Toni must face her feelings about the relationships in her life, the secrets of her family's past, and figure out why her mother was up in the attic wearing a little black dress so early in the morning when she had her stroke.
Narrated in alternating chapters by Toni and her comatose mother Evie, the tale also flips between the present and the past that led up to Evie and her sister Anna's estrangement, which is at the crux of the entire novel. Toni has no access to Evie's tale and so she must uncover answers herself. Meanwhile, Evie remembers the day that Anna bought the little black dress and the havoc it wreaked in their lives, causing Anna to run out on her elaborate, much anticipated wedding the night before the ceremony and devastating her family in the process. The chain of events leading from that moment onward seems fated and almost driven by the visions that the little black dress gave Anna and then Evie in turn. And now Toni, home and looking for answers, will inadvertantly try on the dress as well and discover the magic in it.
The tale is whimsical although quite predictable and the source of the dress and its magic is a plot point that is quickly abandoned in favor of the family drama. The characters are generally likable although the obviousness of one particular plot twist will leave the reader wondering if Toni is particularly thick since she never does seem to cotton on. It is slightly strange to have a comatose woman narrating the back story so that the reader will understand far more than Toni does but if you ignore Evie's current circumstances, it does work. The narrative pace is generally steady until the ending, which is a bit rushed and has all ends neatly tied up.
A novel of regrets, forgiveness, family, and coming home, this quick read enlivened by the hint of magical in the fateful little black dress was a pleasing way to spend a day. And while I don't know that I'd want to unleash the sort of chaos that ensued as a result of the titular little black dress, I might like a glimpse or two here or there or my own future when I next slip into my own little black dress.
For more information about Susan McBride and the book visit her webpage.
Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.