It's release day for Sophie Littlefield's historical novel, The Dress in the Window, written under the name Sofia Grant. The character-driven book takes readers back to the period from 1948 to 1952, a time when women who lost men in the war had to find a way to make a living and survive, while learning to be harder and stronger than they had planned.
In 1948 in Brunskill, Pennsylvania, a former mill town, three women struggle to make a living. Jeanne Brink lost her fiancé in the war, and she's now living in the attic of the house owned by her sister's mother-in-law, Thelma. Jeanne's sister, Peggy, is widowed with a young daughter, Tommie, named after her late husband. Jeanne, a talented seamstress, alters and makes dresses for other women. Some of those dresses are based on Peggy's designs. And, Peggy, who finds work in a department store, has bigger dreams. She wants to work in advertising or fashion design. But, those are wild dreams that would take her out of the mill town where she grew up.
For a while, Jeanne and Peggy are a team, but the family needs conspire against them. Although Thelma finds a way for the group to keep the house and make more money, her plans tear about dreams, and the family unit. And, suddenly the two sisters find themselves with different needs and desires.
The Dress in the Window is a bittersweet novel. None of the characters are perfect, but all three women are striving to find some sort of success, some sort of happiness in a world without the men they loved. At times, they take desperate measures. But, it's a time when women were sometimes forced to take desperate measures in order to survive and make it in a world where men held the power.
Grant, who has written novels about women taking control of their lives, and finding their own strength and power, addresses a forgotten period in The Dress in the Window. In some ways, she has taken on the story of forgotten women, those left behind by the war, forced to fight their own battles. As I said, it's a bittersweet story.
The Dress in the Window by Sofia Grant. William Morrow. 2017. ISBN 9780062499721 (paperback), 384p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publicist sent me a copy of the book so I could participate in the blog tour on release date, with no promise of a favorable review.