Little Black Dress by Susan McBride.*
Evelyn and Annabelle Evans were about as different as two sisters could be, but were still very close. The day before Anna's wedding, she persuades Evie to "run away" with her for the day. They come across a strange little curio shop run by a woman who looks like a gypsy, who sells Anna a black dress, telling her it would show her the future. Evie doesn't trust the gypsy or the dress, but she can't stop Anna from buying it, saying she'll wear it to the rehearsal dinner that evening.
But Anna disappears before the wedding, and Evie begins to believe that the dress is cursed and tries to return it, but the shop is no longer there a few days later.
Many years later, Evie awakens very early in the morning and finds herself going to the attic and putting on the dress.
Antonia Ashton is a strong, independent woman with both a successful career and relationship. On the night that she hopes to become engaged, she receives a call from a hospital in her home town, telling her that her mother, Evie, has had a stroke.
She learns that her mother was found in the attic, wearing a black silk dress that the doctors were forced to cut off before they could treat her. Not sure what is so important about the dress, she takes it home and Evie's housekeeper Bridget offers to fix it.
Evie remains in a coma for some time, and Toni feels she must remain nearby, so she puts her assistant in charge of the business, and decides to put her mother's papers in order. She discovers things she'd never known about her family, and realizes what she must do in order to save Evie.
This is a very different type of novel for Susan McBride, better known as the author of the Debutante Dropout mystery series. There is a paranormal element, but the the predominant theme is relationships, between sisters, between mother and daughter, between husband and wife. The characters and their stories are so compelling that this book begs to be read straight through without interruption. But take it slowly if you can, in order to enjoy McBride's prose.
Little Black Dress will be released on Tuesday,August 23.
*Many thanks to the author, who sent a bound galley for review purposes.