My Mrs. Brown
Summary (from Goodreads): From William Norwich, the well-known fashion writer and editor, an unforgettable novel about a woman with a secret who travels to New York City on a determined quest to buy a special dress that represents everything she wants to say about that secret…and herself.
Sometimes a dress isn’t just a dress.
Emilia Brown is a woman of a certain age. She has spent a frugal, useful, and wholly restrained life in Ashville, a small town in Rhode Island. Overlooked especially by the industries of fashion and media, Mrs. Brown is one of today’s silent generations of women whose quiet no-frills existences would make them seem invisible. She is a genteel woman who has known her share of personal sorrows and quietly carried on, who makes a modest living cleaning and running errands at the local beauty parlor, who delights in evening chats with her much younger neighbor, twenty-three-year-old Alice Danvers.
When the grand dame of Ashville passes away, Mrs. Brown is called upon to inventory her estate and comes across a dress that changes everything. The dress isn’t a Cinderella confection; it’s a simple yet exquisitely tailored Oscar de la Renta sheath and jacket—a suit that Mrs. Brown realizes, with startling clarity, will say everything she has ever wished to convey. She must have it. And so, like the inspired heroine of Paul Gallico’s 1958 classic Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, Mrs. Brown begins her odyssey to purchase the dress. For not only is the owning of the Oscar de la Renta a must, the intimidating trip to purchase it on Madison Avenue is essential as well. If the dress is to give Mrs. Brown a voice, then she must prepare by making the daunting journey—both to the emerald city and within herself.
Timeless, poignant, and appealing, My Mrs. Brown is a novel for every mother in the world, every woman who ever wanted the perfect dress, and every child who wanted to give it to her.
Marcie's Review: Much like the main character Mrs. Brown, this is a charming and genteel little book. Although Mrs. Brown may seem like a drab and boring person to the women she works with at a salon, this kind and hard-working woman is well-loved by her neighbors and even by strangers she meets during her journey. I tend to like books where kind people go on journeys and make friends with unlikely strangers, so perhaps it is no surprise that I enjoyed this book so much.
I have to admit, even though I had a hunch about why Mrs. Brown was determined to buy her perfectly correct dress, I still didn't completely understand why she couldn't find something much much much less expensive. So I fear that I have missed the major point of the novel.
It would be interesting to discuss this book among women of different ages - does this book appeal more to women are of "of a certain age" themselves?
Becky's Review: This book was advertised to me by my local library as a modern day fairy tale and I would agree with that tag line. Things seemed to fall into place somewhat magically and some people were completely good and others not so much. The thing that made this book different was that the main character was a woman who was older, I think in her 60s. Mrs. Brown seems like a sweet lady but one who didn't have much of a personality and that faded into the background. She meets such wonderful people who help her try to reach her goal of buying the perfect dress. It was a little too far fetched for my taste.
Becky's Review: 3.5 stars