By: Shonna Slayton
Date Finished: 06.08.14
As cowardly as running away seemed, it might have been the bravest thing she’d ever done.
Kate is caught in a rapidly changing world, navigating high school as the Second World War claims the services of both her father and brother. Her mother is the ultimate stage mom, pushing auditions and model gigs on her when Kate has no desire to be onstage. She’s drawn to the elaborate window displays at the department store where her mom works, and longs to help bring them to life. Unfortunately, that is strictly a man’s work, and Kate must push her way through the smallest opening to participate. The war also brings relatives from Poland to their door, seeking refuge. They carry with them the dress belonging to the real Cinderella and need Kate’s help to keep it hidden from the descendants of the wicked stepsisters.
Cinderella’s Dress is the hot chocolate of fairy tale adaptations (or tea, if you’re more Britishly inclined). It is sweet and soothing, but don’t forget to watch the temperature. The history of the dress is not entirely peaceful, and a sense of danger permeates. This adds heat to the lovely coming-of-age story.
I enjoy the time-span of the novel (It can be a little hard to track, but look for the letters – they’ll lead you through the major jumps). The war is well-established at the time the book begins, and is an offscreen character, ravaging Eurpoe and Japan while Kate is safe in New York. Even without bombs falling on Kate’s world, the war orchestrates the whole plot. The Polish relatives only find Kate because they were driven out of their home country. And with all the men leaving for military service, Kate is able to play a more active role in producing the window displays. The war isn’t the whole story though, and the book explores the tension of the women having to give up their jobs for the men returning to work. I would have loved to see even more of this conflict because it is a fascinating conundrum.
I’m also a fan of Kate as a leading lady. Others push her, sometimes quite adamantly, in many separate directions as she’s trying to find her place in the world. While she is intrigued by the dresses, he wants to make an informed decision about taking on the responsibility of taking care of it. But she also makes some pretty poor and rash choices, particularly in things she says, which keeps her human. I appreciate that aspect as well.
Strictly speaking, the plot is less of a fairy tale adaptation and more an extension of the Cinderella story. However, there are some delightful hints at original tale in Kate’s life sprinkled throughout. This is the perfect day-off read, so cozy up, and savor this story.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
Lately I have noticed a massive increase of typos in books. With quicker editing processes, I’m afraid pandemic is here to stay. Most of the typos I’ve seen are in books by established authors, including Stephen King – the Eye of the Dragon was riddled with them. For the most part, the typos are obvious and don’t inhibit the plot too much – although a mid-chase scene chapter that opens with “Easter!” instead of “Faster!” will definitely take you out of the moment.
I haven’t mentioned this before because, well, I’m sure there are plenty of typos in this blog, and why bother calling attention to them when they’re obviously an oversight? Unfortunately, Cinderella’s Dress suffers from a typo that doesn’t look like a typo, which is why I bring up the issue. Slayton weaves Polish words throughout the book and you can tell they’re used deliberately. Early on, the English word for ‘Cinderella’ is used when the character has only heard the Polish word at that point. The rest of the book is extremely careful about when each language is used. It is a mistake, yes, but no more intentional than the Faster/Easter mess up. So, don’t despair at the typo. Even Steven King is not immune!
At the end of the day: Really for me