Not all magic disappears at midnight.
On the home front in 1944, Kate Allen wants to do her part for the war effort. She’d prefer filling in for the window dressers at the department store where she works, but her mother keeps sending her on auditions for roles she never gets.
When relatives arrive from war-torn Poland with a mysterious steamer trunk and an even more mysterious story, Kate’s aunt, who is suffering from dementia, tries to convince Kate she is in line to be the next keeper of the wardrobe for Cinderella’s family—the real Cinderella.
If the family secret is true, this might be the most important role Kate has ever auditioned for. Will she get to the truth before the truth is forgotten?
CINDERELLA’S DRESS is a fairy tale set in the world of department store modeling and window design, spotlighting the importance of family and tradition in a world of constant change.
About the Author
Shonna Slayton finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teens today. While writing Cinderella's Dress she reflected on her days as a high-school senior in British Columbia when she convinced her supervisors at a sportswear store to let her design a few windowsit was glorious fun while it lasted. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona.
Read an Excerpt
Spring 1944, New York City
Kate Allen, in proper hat and gloves, stared at the typed sign above the receptionist: There are no small parts; there are only small actors. Hmpf. Maybe in showbiz, but not in real life.
Beside her stood her mother, Mrs. Allen, recently promoted assistant to the manager of Women's Wear at Harmon-Craig Department Store. Her lips twisted while she examined the description of the movie role. "Girl Next Door. They don't even give you a name. Well, you don't need one. Once they see you on-screen, your future is decided."
The receptionist frowned and handed Mom a clipboard to sign. "Go ahead and take a seat. They'll call her in a few minutes."
Simply thinking about having her name called made Kate's stomach lurch. She'd never auditioned for a movie before. Sure, she'd gone on plenty of go-sees for modeling ever since her mother had decided Kate had something special. Her old modeling coach (before Mom fired her) assured them the nerves would go away with practice, but that wasn't happening. Neither were the jobs her mother expected. Aside from the department store fashion shows, they'd only landed one — a local shoe advertisement. Apparently, Kate's feet had talent.
After finding two empty seats, Kate sat beside a brunette wearing a flowered drawstring dress from Altman's. She smiled at the girl, who was too busy biting her fingernails to notice. Kate stared at her own hands, cleverly tucked into white kid gloves so she wouldn't be doing the same.
"Anything from Dad?" she asked, trying to cut off any advice before her mom started in.
"No," Mom answered distractedly as she rifled through her wood-framed handbag. "Our fashion show tomorrow has me scatterbrained. I've got so much to do in the next twenty-four hours." She looked up from her purse. "Well, you're the prettiest one here, that's for certain."
She said it too loudly, and the mother sitting across from them frowned. Oh boy. Kate looked out the window at the wiggling spring leaves on the Norway maples.
"It's the truth," Mom said in a softer voice, but again, too loud. She took out a cigarette.
Kate pulled at the pearls on her gloves while the sweat trickled between her shoulder blades. Sometimes Mom could be altogether embarrassing.
By the time Kate's name was finally called, her nerves were as tight as the girdle Mom made her wear.
"Sadie Young, Yvonne Whitehouse, Katherine Allen, Fran Marshall."
Fran Marshall? Kate sucked in a breath. Anyone but Fran. When Kate landed shoes, Fran landed a national baking soda campaign. She was all Mom talked about.
"Oh, look! There's Fran." Mother smiled and waved across the room to catch Fran's attention. "We were lucky to book her for the fashion show when we did."
Ignoring the exchange, Kate stood and smoothed her aqua-blue skirt, questioning every decision she had made that morning. From the gloves, to the skirt, to wearing her grandmother's antique amber necklace. Kate touched her throat where the necklace should have been. There was no hidden lump under the collar of her blouse. She felt the color drain from her face. Of all the things to lose.
The necklace wasn't supposed to leave the apartment. The only reason she wore it today was for courage. Babcia always knew the right things to say and do, and Kate thought the necklace might help steady her nerves.
While her mother was busy signaling Fran, Kate surreptitiously searched the floor, looking in between beige slingbacks, colorful Mary Janes, a peep-toe, and several wedges. If she didn't find it, Mom would kill her.
As she retraced her steps to the receptionist, she kept her gaze on the ground. It wasn't there. She made a move to go outside and check the street when Mother grabbed her by the shoulders.
"This way." She pushed Kate toward the other girls, hastily putting out her cigarette in a silver ashtray along the way.
"No mothers," the clipboard woman snapped. "Just the girls." She turned on her heel and led the group forward like a conga line.
Kate followed, eyes forward, waiting for Mom to spout off some insult in Polish, but the employee's stern expression must have made her sit back down.
Bright lights pointed at a platform up front where a scene had been set: a blue sofa with some flowered pillows and a blanket, a chair, a coffee table, and a rag rug. Three men sat in front of the stage at a table littered with papers, coffee cups, and three overflowing ashtrays. There was also a record player.
Would she have to dance? If she still had the stick of Wrigley's her mom made her spit out, she would have swallowed it right then and there. No one had said anything about dancing.
The rest of the auditorium plunged into darkness that went on forever. Her whole school could be watching, and she wouldn't know it.
"All right, girls," said the man with wire-framed glasses. "One by one, go sit on the sofa. Tell us your full name, then say the line, 'I can't wait for the boys to come home.'"
A coed — from Barnard College, judging by her sweater — started them off. She sashayed over to the sofa and sat down, crossing her ankles. "Hi, I'm Sadie Luanne Young, and I can't wait for the boys to come home." Sadie Luanne Young beamed as she stepped back in line.
And Kate believed her. She probably couldn't wait for the boys to come home. Most likely, she was one of the girls down at the canteen dancing with the soldiers every night before they shipped out. She was perfect for the role. She'd lived it already.
Fran stepped into the living room scene next.
Kate clasped her hands together to keep them from shaking. Visions of past auditions flashed through her mind. She'd heard it from enough talent agents: "You're a beautiful gal, love the long lashes, can live with the brown locks. No poise. Take some classes." Why would today be any different? She should walk out now and find her necklace before someone else did. Why even go to the trouble —
The casting directors were looking at her. It was her turn. Wait. When did the other girl go?
Kate chewed her lower lip while making her way to the sofa. She picked up a pillow and hugged it when she sat down. "I'm Katherine Marie Allen," her voice edged out. Realizing the pillow might look like a shield, she put it back, rearranging it with the other pillows until it looked right.
She swallowed and spoke louder. "I can't wait for the boys to come home." She jumped up and folded the blanket, placing it just so on the back of the sofa. On her way past the chair, she angled it so it was easier to get by. The directors should have thought of that already.
Back in line, Kate stared somewhere over the casting directors' heads. Did I just rearrange their furniture? Josie's going to die when I tell her. Oh, please let this audition be over with soon.
The man with the glasses cleared his throat. "Next, girls, we'd like to see you jitterbug." He snapped his fingers twice, and a teen-age boy walked out to the center of the room. Oh no. The boy had been at the back of the room the whole time. He'd seen her moving the props around. As he drew closer, the other girls whispered eagerly to each other.
He was tall with flipped-back dark-brown hair, wearing blue jeans and a button-down shirt with the top button open and a white T-shirt underneath. Kate had no idea who he was, but based on the reactions of the older girls, they did.
He smiled at each of the hopefuls, and when he looked at Kate, her ears burned like the New York asphalt outside.
The man closest to the record player leaned over and switched it on. Out blasted the Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
Kate smiled in relief. She'd danced a hundred times to this old song. It would be a cinch after all.
The boy grabbed Sadie's hand, and the two jitterbugged in front of the casting table. Working his way from girl to girl, he finally reached Kate. He grinned and held out his hand to her. "Care to dance?"
When Kate made eye contact, her stomach did a jitterbug of its own. She didn't expect his eyes to be so Frank Sinatra blue. Blue like the early-morning sky. She shyly ducked her chin, forgetting for a moment this was an audition.
Without warning, he yanked her in front of the three men and their clipboards and swung her around like she was a teen-age Shirley Temple. He pulled her close and whispered, "Relax, doll, you're doing swell."
His warm breath tickled her ear, and she leaned into him. Girl Next Door might be an okay role after all. She could help the war effort by increasing morale, and have fun at the same time. She put a little extra oomph into her next kick ... But before she knew it, she was flat on the floor, her elbow smacking into the wood with a painful pop. The poor boy let go of her hand as he stumbled to keep from falling on top of her.
Kate flinched. She couldn't have done worse if she'd tried. And all in front of Fran and that blue-eyed boy.
The music stopped, and the hush in the room stretched thin like the silence after an air raid drill. The boy lifted Kate to her feet. He shrugged, let go of her hand, and walked back into the darkness.
She kept her eyes glued to her saddle shoes. Her tailbone smarted, and her elbow felt like the skin had rubbed raw and started bleeding.
No one asked if she was okay. It took every bit of self-control she had to stay put and wait for the directors to finish their notes and say something. It didn't matter anyway. All she wanted now was to get out and find her missing necklace.
When Babcia had given her the family heirloom she had said, "You seem a little lost. Perhaps this will help you find your way." The necklace had come from Poland, and Babcia had given it to Kate during the days after Pearl Harbor was bombed but before she became so ill that speaking was the same as gasping for breath. What was a silly audition compared to a war?
The man in the middle spoke for the first time. He had a deep, leading-man-type voice. "Thank you, ladies. If we're interested in you, we'll be in touch."
Kate flew to the door, beating out the other girls. Quickly, she pulled off a glove and wiped at her tears before anyone could see them.
Mom stood on the other side of the door, a fresh cigarette in hand, and tried to get in the room. The assistant held up her hand like a stop sign. "They'll let you know if they want her to come back. We've got your phone number." She stepped around them and called for the next group of girls. "Margaret Tannenbalm ..."
Dozens of pretty heads turned to watch them walk out. Kate tried not to look at Fran, knowing she'd have that self-satisfied smirk on her face. But when Kate walked by, Fran tilted her head in a tough-break-when-your-mother-embarrasses-you kind of way.
Kate responded with a small smile. Maybe Fran had a heart after all. Maybe they'd seen each other at enough auditions that they could be friendly.
Then Fran laughed.
Kate's half smile fell. Why couldn't Fran act like a decent human for once?
Outside, Kate tilted her head back, begging the wind to cool the sweat along her forehead. Worst audition of them all. Movies ought to be rationed like butter and sugar.
She pulled off the other glove and tucked it into her pocket while she scanned the sidewalk looking for her necklace.
"Well? How did it go? I had my ear pressed against the door, but I couldn't hear a darn thing." Mom walked briskly to the bus stop.
Kate quickened her steps to keep up, eyes focused on every piece of litter. "I wasn't what they wanted." Not in a million years, not when they had girls like Miss Sadie Luanne Young from Barnard College who looked and moved like Judy Garland. She could probably sing like her, too.
"Why not? You're perfect for film." Mom grabbed Kate's chin. "Look at your skin. Not a blemish on it."
Kate pulled away. "Do I have to go back to school?" "Of course."
The bus arrived, and her mother handed her a nickel and waved good-bye. With no will to climb to the top deck, Kate collapsed onto the first open seat. The man in front of her opened a newspaper. The headline read: Surprise Attack Nets Mile Gains in Central Italy.
Finally, some good news! With Dad in Italy, she'd take any gains for the Allies.
On impulse, Kate pulled the cord to ring the next stop. She got off the bus and took another one going in the opposite direction — home. Maybe Babcia's amber necklace fell off in the hallway and was sitting there right now waiting for her.
Despite searching every dingy corner of the apartment building, from the street entrance to her bedroom, Kate didn't find her necklace. Later that night, she was brooding over how to tell Mom when there was a soft knock from the hallway.
"Was that the door?" asked her brother, Floyd. He was sitting at the kitchen table poring over the latest troop movements reported in the paper while she was washing the dishes.
Another knock, this one a little louder.
"Who could it be at this time of night?" asked Mom.
Kate and Floyd exchanged worried glances. Unexpected knocks during wartime often meant telegrams bearing unwanted news.
Would there be news of Dad? Everyone looked expectantly at Kate.
"Aren't you going to get it?" asked Floyd. "Probably Josie, anyway."
Kate sighed. "Why do I always have to get the door?" It wouldn't be Josie, because her older sister was visiting. If it was a telegram, she didn't want to be the one to get the news first. She flung open the door with more force than she meant to.
In the hallway stood a very old, very tired-looking couple. The wind created by the door seemed enough to knock the thin pair over. The bearded, gray-haired man held a felt fedora in hand, his wispy hair falling gently back into place. He took a protective step in front of the woman and a banged-up steamer trunk at their feet.
The frail woman leaned around the man and smiled. A red kerchief tied back her white hair, and she wore a full, though terribly faded, dirndl peasant skirt. "Hello, dziecko," she said in a quiet voice. "Is your mama home?"
That accent! It was like hearing Grandmother's voice after all these years. Kate smiled warmly and stepped out of the way as Mom came up behind her.
"How may I help you?" she asked.
The man's eyes crinkled, making him look hopeful. "We looking for Katja Petrov." His voice was deep and crackly.
"My mama? And you are?"
Their shoulders relaxed and the woman let out a tiny sigh. "We came a long way," she said. "Adalbert and Elsie Oberlin. From Poland. Your great-uncle and -aunt."
Mom let out a gasp, and she covered her mouth with her hand. At the same time, Elsie came forward in greeting, kissing one cheek, then the other, and back to the first.
Poland. No wonder they looked like they hadn't seen a meal in months. Life magazine had a spread showing the harsh conditions in the country where the war started. The images had burned into Kate when she saw them.
Adalbert took Mother's hand and kissed it.
Then Floyd reached out, pushing Kate behind him, and firmly shook Adalbert's hand. "How did you get here?" he asked, sounding astonished. "Not across the Atlantic ..."
"A ship leaves from India." Adalbert glanced down the hallway. "We landed in the California, and then went to the refugee camp in Mexico. May we come in?"
"Yes, yes, of course." Mom opened the door wide to allow the couple through. She wrung her hands. There was no light in her polite smile. In fact, her expression looked as hard as the manikins in the windows of Harmon-Craig department store.
As they labored to bring in the awkward trunk, Floyd stepped forward to help, but the man stood in his way, as if protecting the trunk. "Is fine. I bring it."
Curiosity piqued, Kate focused her attention on the steamer trunk. It was built of ancient wood bound by two leather straps. A faded coat of arms was painted on the lid. The same coat of arms that was on the box for her missing amber necklace. The background was a red shield divided into three areas. One with a white eagle, another a horseman, and the third a crown. The white eagle was from Poland's crest. She recognized it from the one she recently pasted into her scrapbook of Polish things.
Excerpted from "Cinderella's Dress"
Copyright © 2014 Shonna Slayton.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love a good fairy tale. Princess, magic, romance... they're my favorite. It's what drew me to this book when I received an email from Entangled Publishing requesting reviewers. The opportunity to read a book that combines historical fiction with one of my favorite fairy tales? Count me in. This book had a great premise, but I do think it could have been carried out better. It took a long time to get to the action. Yeah, we needed backstory - but I felt like the backstory was too drawn out and Slayton spent too many pages rehashing things that she had already told us. I found myself getting bored - something I did not expect going into this book. Along with that, it was super hard to follow the passing of time. Slayton does provide us with a date in the beginning, but she doesn't keep us updated with when each chapter is taking place. At one point, I honestly felt that several years had gone by, but in reality, I don't think that this story could have spanned more than two. I also thought that Kate had graduated from high school (and was also wondering when this had happened, since the fact was never mentioned), and then she and Josie started talking about prom. I found myself re-reading some parts several times, because sometimes, characters would appear with little to no introduction and I didn't understand how they'd gotten there. Basically, Slayton skimps on details that help give the reader a sense of direction - and it led to me feeling lost frequently. I did really enjoy how Slayton developed Johnny and Kate's relationship. There was absolutely no insta-love; instead, their relationship was drawn out with careful detail. They had their struggles, but they overcame them. They got to know each other beyond each other's physical attributes and truly fell for one another's personalities - a rarity in romance. I did feel that at times, Kate made unbelievably stupid decisions - not only in her love life, but in general - but somehow, everything worked out in the end and I liked her so much as a character that I was able to forgive her for this flaw. One final critique - as much as I felt the beginning of this book was too drawn out, I felt that the ending was too abrupt. Is this book a part of a series? Because with the ending we got, it needs to be. There were too many loose strings. The Burgosovs are still out there and eventually, we all know they're going to want that dress back. And on the subject of the Burgosovs, I definitely feel that we should have met more of them than the two thugs. And the way that they came to an end was just way too perfect to really be believed. Also, do Kate and Johnny really end up together? I hope so, but I don't feel like that was really cemented, either. Ultimately, this book had a fantastic premise, but I don't think that it was carried out quite as well as it could have been. I hope that there's a sequel, but if I were to read it, I'd want it to be a vast improvement on this one. Cinderella's Dress wasn't a terrible book to read - there were aspects of it that I actually quite enjoyed - but it most definitely could have been better. Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of this book from Entangled Publishing in exchange for my honest review.
Magical historical fiction! Cinderella is the Queen and is in possession of the dress that holds magic. Her stepsisters have married into a rival kingdom and Cinderella sends her most trusted servant on a mission to protect the dress. Time moves forward to the servant’s descendant granddaughter during World War II, Kate Allen. Kate Allen lives with her brother Floyd and their mother. Mr. Allen is in Europe, during the war, protecting art. Floyd joins up and goes to basic training and eventually over to Europe after the war is over. Their great aunt and uncle arrive at the Allen’s apartment with a mysterious trunk that holds a precious secret. I love Shonna Slayton’s writing style and how she mixes true historical facts into a fairytale story. The complicated story line brings many dynamic characters together to tell a Cinderella tale within the awesome World War II setting. I am anxious to read Cinderella’s Shoes, the sequel to this book worth a magical 5 stars! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
Kate Allen is a teenage girl in World War II Era New York City. Her dad is over in Italy working as a Monument Man, guarding the art from the Nazi forces. Her brother, Floyd, wants nothing more than to become a pilot, so he could head off for the war too. As for Kate, she’s a fairly normal girl in a world that’s gone crazy. She goes to school (not that we ever see her there) and works at a department store with her mother, who keeps pushing Kate to become a model and an actress. Kate wants neither of those things. She wants to design windows with the men–women were not allowed to work on the windows because no one believed that a woman would have the physical strength to do it. Her life takes a turn for the unexpected when her Great Aunt and Uncle arrive at their door, having escaped from Poland and the Nazi Death Camps. That’s when she finds out that her family has a secret: They’re part of a long line of Keepers of the Wardrobe, women who have been charged with protecting the real Cinderella’s dresses, and Kate is next in line. She’s not quite sure what to make of any of it. Aunt Elsie is slipping into dementia and has just come from a place where no one was safe, so she convinces herself that it was all a product of Elsie’s aging mind. Then, she sees the dress and knows that it is all true. I have to admit that Cinderella was not one of my favorite fairy tales growing up and I am ambivalent towards the Disney cartoon. I do like the Rodgers and Hammerstein version, especially the one starring Brandi and Whitney Houston that came out back in 1997. If the musical comes to San Francisco any time in the future, I’ll be there with bells on. That said, this is not Cinderella. And that’s a good thing. The last thing we need is yet another re-telling of the original. This was different. It focused not on Kate finding her Price Charming (or Prince Christopher if you’re a R&H fan like me) or looking to escape her everyday life, but rather on a girl coming to grips with her destiny and choosing whether or not she wants it. It is a coming of age story with a bit of magic and a little romance. You can read the rest of the review at: http://thefictionvixen.com/2015/09/19/review-of-cinderellas-dress-by-shonna-slayton/
I really enjoyed this book! The prologue pulled me in, and the unusual time and place of the story (a Cinderella book set in 1940s New York City?) made me want to know what happens next. The characters were interesting and real enough that sometimes I was ticked off at them. Then I would remind myself the main character is a teenage girl - acting like a teenage girl! Haha! I loved the best friend and the love interest, and I loved how Aunt Elsie was portrayed. And then the magic of the dress! Yes, my inner little girl was happy with the magic of a fairy tale come to life. :) If you like "what if fairy tales are real?" kinds of stories, you'll enjoy this one.
As soon as I saw the beautiful cover and synopsis for Cinderella's Dress I knew that this was a book I had to read, but I felt that what could have been a spell-binding fairy tale style story fell short of delivering to its reader. In essence this is less a story about the Dress than about war; Shonna Slayton reveals the impact of World War II upon American citizens, including those who have families fighting or MIA, and those who are left behind dealing with sexism, rationing and trying to survive. We also encounter the war over the dress, which becomes a symbol of hope, between the descendants of Cinderella, the Kolodenkos, and the family of her step-sisters, the Burgosovs. Although Kate is the story's main character, I particularly loved Aldabert and Elsie, who introduce Kate to the legend of Cinderella's Dress. As the story develops we sadly see Elsie's dementia worsening, but in her periods of lucidity she becomes the narrator of the fantasy part of the story. Her husband, Aldabert struggles to take care of her; the most moving scene is when he plays her Prince Charming and as they dance she remembers his true identity. As the keeper of the Dress, Elsie wants Kate to succeed the role and she is given the package for safe-keeping. Under Kate's guardianship the true power of the garments are revealed and she too becomes involved in the mystery and the age-old battle to possess it. At the beginning of the novel Shonna Slayton shares her narrative with letters from Kate's father and brother, but as the story progresses these disappear and though we are aware Kate's father is presumed dead, I missed the contact with Floyd and feel there was no resolution to this thread. Kate's romance with Johnny Day is also poorly explored; one minute they are merely acquaintances, then supposed sweethearts, then not talking. If Kate had Facebook she would constantly be updating her relationship status! Overall, Cinderella's Dress is an enjoyable novel, and though it lacks the depth I hoped for I think other fans of young adult will find it a refreshing change from the norm. I received this as a complimentary review copy, but this has had no influence on my opinion.
Amazing book!! Looovvedd it!!
I am being absolutely honest here when I say that I wanted Cinderella's Dress to turn out differently. It's not like I had high expectations for it. It was just the premise of this book that made me want to read it, despite all the mixed reviews. I can't believe that the book I read is the same one with the synopsis above. I was all in for a Cinderella retelling set during World War II. But honestly, none of those were very clear. I'm disappointed to add yet again another novel to the famous list of: a good premise, but a bad execution. The first thing I noticed about Cinderella's Dress, was how long it actually took me to get through the entire thing. It has been a while, since I can't even remember when I started it. The book didn't have that many pages, but I never had any interest to continue. There was literally nothing to hold on to and because of that, way too easy to put down. To be honest, there were several moments when I felt the urge to stop reading and call it a DNF. Nothing happened besides the boring everyday life of an American girl writing letters and creating window displays. The mystery that Slayton was trying to build up throughout the book did nothing for me, because there was little to none. The plot lines that were supposed to do the job and build up anticipation and secrecy, did nothing. Instead of being woven neatly together, they're more like loose strings that don't connect in any way. The promise fairy tale aspect of the book was also nowhere to be found. It was only the prologue that held a bit of that. It's not because Cinderella's dress was involved that it suddenly turns the story into a retelling. When it comes to plot twist, the only surprise I got was how disappointed I ended up being. It's known from the first line of the synopsis already that the story takes place during World War II. If it weren't for the many references in this book to the War and the pointless letters, I wouldn't have noticed. While reading, there wasn't a moment when I believed I was reading a story set in in that time period. In my opinion Slayton clearly failed in creating an appropriate atmosphere. Even though the centre of the war was in Europe, I didn't think the American citizens didn't notice what was going on. The book portrays as if that was the case. There was way too little influence of the war on Kate's situation, because she lived her life as if she didn't even live in the forties. The book could have easily been set during the sixties or even modern times, because it wouldn't have made much difference. Research is the main key word when it comes to writing a historical novel, and I didn't feel like Slayton did enough research to completely capture the vibe of the war. I can't even bring myself to talk about the flat and undeveloped characters. None of them develop throughout the entire novel and remain just the same as they were before. In normal cases it's usual for people to change, even just a little bit. Yet when it's during the Second World War and spread over a few years, it amazes me how none of them did. Kate in particular was one dull and flat character. Instead of making things happen, things happened to Kate. She was passive in so many ways and did absolutely nothing for the story but writing letters and complaining. When I started thinking about her, she reminded me more of the forties white girl than anyone else. Like the plot, this girl had interesting stuff about her, such as being a feminist and having a unique passion, that supposedly would make her interesting. Nothing of that happened. Setting that aside, you would at least expect me to have compassion for the characters and their loved ones overseas. I don't. I really don't. The clichéd romance in this book left me with only a few words in mind: well, that escalated quickly. In the blink of an eye, they went from being strangers to opponents to friends to opponents to lovers, and all of that not even in entire first half of the novel. The development of their relationship suddenly went to insulting to writing letters, and the romance just jumped out of the blue. I didn't care for the rest of their relationship. It felt like yet again one of those forced romances, and I wasn't a fan. What could have been a great retelling with an extraordinary setting compared to the story, ended up being a slow-paced book with a plot that seemed to head to nowhere and boring characters that did nothing good.
Slayton's Cinderella's Dress is a lovely example of amazing concept, bad execution. Go on, read the synopsis yourself. It's trivial how a book with so much promise can be so lacking. You have historical fiction, which I love, fairy tale elements, which I adore, and a hint of feminism. What's not to love? Perhaps it was the high expectations I had going into Cinderella's Dress. However much I hate DNFing books I receive for review, reading this became such a chore that it was impossible not to put down. I'm not normally one to complain about the personality of a character, but come on, Kate was a freaking pathetic protagonist. A majority of the stupid stuff she does in this book are so obviously used as a plot device and not as a characterization of the protagonist herself. I mean, when you have something like this: "That shoe was brand-new!' Kate felt her eyes tear up. The shoes weren't even hers-she hadn't earned them. She blinked rapidly. With made-up eyes, she had to be careful, or all that mascara would run down her face." How can you not face-palm? Insipid, seriously. Then, you have the reason for which I requested this novel: the plot. Or lack thereof, I should say. The book starts off well enough, but as we delve deeper into the history of the dress, my expectations get lower and lower. The novel is extremely slow from the get-go and nothing truly happens for a bulk of the book (until my stopping point at 75%, in fact). What irks me is that absolutely no development takes place in the span of the uneventful plot - it was pretty much Ms. Stupidity writing letters to her father and lover and roaming the streets complaining of her job-less life. With the amount of complaining that occurs, you'd think that I would feel a shred of sympathy for her - obviously, I don't. Also, yay for flat characters. There wasn't anything terribly bad about the historical fiction aspect, which I think the author at least partially succeeded in, but the good stops there. The author fails in capturing the fairy-tale premise this book promises and writes of a curse (I think?) that was lackluster at the very least. While I was not the biggest fan of Slayton's novel, I cannot bring myself to hate it; hence the two stars. I feel that the topic was genius but the author was too inexperienced to succeed in bringing it to life. Thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing a copy for review. -Summer @ MissFictional's World of YA Books
Cinderella's Dress I received a copy of this book from Entangled Teen (Entangled Publishing) in exchange for an unbiased review. No other consideration was offered, expected or received. I love historical fiction - there is just something amazing about reading stories based in a time before I was born. I am not, however, a fan of romance, but … mixed in with historical fiction, it has its place … and I actually enjoy it. This book – not just historical fiction, not just a clean romance, but Cinderella. You mention Cinderella (or any of the other fairy tales that I love) and I.am.THERE – I am always amazed at the stories that people come up with based on the old classics. Have you ever wondered what the rest of Cinderella’s story was? What happened to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren…? Where her dress is now? That is what this story is about – and so much more. World War II, family, friends, teen love, window designs, modeling and fashion – it was so much to read. This story was beautiful. The characters were ones that you wanted to know more about, that you grew close to, that you cheered for when they did good, worried about when they were harmed, hoped the best for when they were in trouble (fingers crossed and all). I want to know more and, with the way that the story ended – and the fact that there are some things that happened in the story that never came to a conclusion – I really hope there is going to be a second book. The story only barely touched on the father’s disappearance, Cinderella’s step-sisters and the necklace, Kate’s brother is still overseas. I look forward to what comes next. I loved this book enough to give it a 5, but chose to give it a 4 because of one big thing that I noticed but, after skimming other reviews, it seems to me that I am the only one who noticed. When Kate’s aunt began telling her the story of the dress, she did not know the English translation of Cinderella’s name. Even though the person reading the story knew it was Cinderella (based on the name of the book and the description), Kate did not. Yet, in the book, it is referred to as Cinderella’s dress (16% “Kate leaned forward, eager for a look. She held her breath, wondering what the Cinderella dress would look like.”) long before the translation was remembered by Elsie (21%”A young girl made to be servant, shoveling out cinders for her stepmother. Then she escapes to ball where she meets prince of the land. I found her English name. You call her Cinderella.”). This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to me it is HUGE. It gives away the story. I, as a reader, was anticipating this conversation between Kate and Elsie, and when the conversation finally happened, it didn’t have as much strength as it could have – as it should have. On a side note, I also feel like the book description gave away too much and, at the same time, gave away misinformation and I really don’t like that. You see, when I read these (which is why I usually skim them or don’t read them at all) and you tell specific things that are going to happen, instead of enjoying the build up to the story, I … wait for those things to happen. And in this one, one of the things that it says – “her new sweetheart is shipped off to boot camp” – is untrue. They are not sweethearts. She is interested in him and there’s a possibility that he is interested in her, they write letters back and forth, but there is no anything really, other than friendship, until the end of the story. (Sorry that I gave this away for those of you reading this, but it was given away already.) Also, the disappearance of her father – why did that have to be shared in the description? I mean, I know you want to get people interested, but the disappearance would have had a lot more impact – just as Aunt Elsie “losing her wits” – if it had been left out of the book description so that the reader could find this out on their own as the story progressed.
Kate just wants to find her own path in life. She is a teenager during World War II. She is surprised when relatives she didn't know about show up and she learns her family has a secret. They are the keepers of Cinderella's dress. Now it seems Kate is in line to be the next keeper. The stepsisters were real and their family still hunts for the dress. While Kate only wants to be a window creator in a mans world she begins to find out more about the dresses. She isn't sure if they are for real or just a story told to her. Someone believes in them and will stop at nothing to find the dress. Kate doesn't want to do what her mother wants.Instead of being a model or actress she wants to be a girl who creates windows. She is alo a girl who says stuff before she thinks. Sometimes it makes her sound hateful and uncaring. She isn't used to telling a special someone how she feels and sometimes you just want to shake her to knock some sense into her. She also doesn't listen to the good voices in her head telling her she shouldn't do something. I was surprised by this book. I was expecting a story based solely on Cinderella but this book isn't. Kate works, goes to school and grow up in this book. The author does a great job describing what women surely went through in this time period. Men are sent off to war and women step up to take care of their families by working. They worry over their loved ones sent away. I like the addition to the letters in this story. It lets you see the characters much better. I was fascinated by Cinderella's dress. It is a little mystery you try to figure out whether it is real or just a story. I like getting to know more as Kate does. She makes mistakes in the book but she isn't afraid to make them right even if she is in danger. This is a great book if you enjoy reading about different times and letting your imagination run wild. What if Cinderella was real? I like the author's take on this and look forward to more books by her.
Katherine (Kate) Allen is a teenage model of polish descent living in New York City, during the WWII in spring 1944. We start off as Kate, due to her pushy mother, attempts in vain to grab into the acting realm. While auditioning for a part in a movieeeee.......which goes disastrously might I add *snickers* XDD she meets a handsome young lad with gorgeous blue eyes! *swoons* I luuuvvv blue eyesss *fans face* And this charming young man turns out to be a 18 year old named Johnny Day, born into the rich New York upper class. In Cinderella's Dress, the story of Cinderella is a real one (duuhh *grins*) Though her name was actually Queen Kopciuszek, a polish queen from long, long ago. And Kate's family have been safeguarding Cinderella's dress for the Kolodenkos, the polish royalty, for many many years. But the Burgosov clan, the descendants of the evil-stepsisters, want the precious dress for themselves. Tempers run high, shoes fly, dresses burn, and sparks and insults shoot around at will, but what will happen in the end? Will Kate successfully safeguard the dresses from the Burgosov's clutches as the unofficial Keeper of the Wardrobe? Or will the dresses be lost on her watch? Kate has a lack of self-confidence, which I suppose would kinda make sense if you're surrounded by all these more mature young glamorous models with more training. It's a sucky career to be in, since everything relies on looks, confidence, and poise. And apparently she only has the first *frowns* Despite being a model for the company her mother works at, the Allen's have little money and this only extends the other models – in particular Fran Marshall — cruelty to Kate. (since apparently models don't have a nice bone in their skinny bodies o.O *sigh*) Kate feels pressured by her mum to be a model, tho Kate only sees the weak model qualities she possesses; it doesn't help that everyone other than her mum (including herself), think she's incapable at proper modelling. Plus she doesn't really have any love for it.....not surprised, considering no one actually encourages her :/ Her mum just pushes her into it. Also, people tend to treat her like a little girl who hasn't grown up and just walk all over her, and it's kinda getting on my nerves because she just lets it happen. Talk about low self-esteem. “If the goat didn’t jump, she wouldn’t have broken her leg,” she whispered, a sense of dread creeping into her heart. “But if goat did not jump, she would be having a miserable life,” added a voice behind her.” We watch as Kate slowly grows a backbone, if you will hehe xD She needs to let go of what her mother wants her to do, and realise what she wants to do. I really liked how she grew into her passions, and learned to chase after them. I think one thing that helped this story was the........well, not exactly female empowerment, but female discovery. I mean seriously. We start out in the 1940's. There is quite a bit of sexism in the air *scowls and mimes bashing peoples heads together* XP And we're just starting to hit a turning point in this book as particular females start pushing for jobs that aren't in their 'little corner of acceptable professions'. Kate wants to be an object and fashion-window designer, and yet hardly any females have been able to push their way into such a profession, which is outside of the circle of modelling and looking glam, even tho it's still related to the fashion industry. It was a bit weird because during the first half of the book, with the constant letters back and forth during the war, the time myterioussssslyyyyyy jumped o.O But it wasn't actually stated straight out *scratches head* Instead, it was like: One of the charries: It's been years! Me: ....*crickets chirp*....*silence*....WHAT?!!?!?! o.O I've never read a book situated in WWII on the Allies side. In fact I've hardly read any books situated in a World War xD So it was interesting to read in that extent. “I actually feel like time has stopped because of this war. Like we are stuck inside a snow globe, and we can’t move on or change until the war is over. We get shaken up and watch the snow fall, and when it all settles, we get shaken up again. I guess I’m waiting for the glass to break.” We weren't reading anything to do with the war itself, rather, we read of what it felt like to have loved ones in the war, reading each letter and telegram, the mixture of hunger and apprehension for news. *shudders* THE ROMANCEEEEE!!!! DUN DUN DUUNNNNN!!!!!!!!!! XDDD It was sooo...........drawn out :P Like, even tho we've totally got sparks and are destined to marry (they don't actually marry XD This is me hoping *winks and crosses fingers*) let's just wait a couple years before we KISS! o.O FACEPALM!!!!!! But the actual attraction was instant and I admit it was pretty sweet and first-crush-like ;D Except that I'm sincerely hoping it's the first-and-only-crush *grins* So cuuuuuteeeeee! *coos* I luuvved how Johnny kept coming up behind her and resting his chin on her shoulder! *giggles* Tis was just adorableeeeee <33 While it's an endearing story, there wasn't really any suspense *pouts* XDD Tho the correspondence between the Allen's in NYC and Kate's dad, and then later between Kate and Floyd and Kate and Johnny did lend a welcome change of style to the novel. Most of the first parts of the story were frightfully slow paced, and downright dreadful for dear wittle Kate *frowns*, but thankfully the feel of the novel started to turn around for me almost half way. Kate had become more outspoken and while she wasn't by any means an strong charrie, she no longer had that air of pleeeaase-step-on-me, honestly *rolls eyes*. She also started to actively pursue the future she wanted for herself. *faints in relief* And all that nonsense about 'Ooooowaaaahhhh!!!! The evil step-sister descendants coming to kill for the dresses?!' Psssshhh! XP All those good-for-nothing descendants did was tie up the elderly, speak little words, and tail Kate like a bunch of creepy stalkers ;P ......which they are!! XD *busts out laughing* The ending.........*quizzical look* I can't figure out if there's gonna be a sequel or if this was a standalone o.O *taps chin* It could be either I suppose XD It kinda leaves it open to our imagination to what'll happen next, and I wouldn't mind if it stopped there because I'm totally imagining my own swell *winks* ending for the characters! *gleeful look* But who knows? There may be a second book yet :P As long as I get my happy ending.......*narrows eyes at Slayton* XD It had quite a few flaws, and I found it unrealistic but cute and romantic in a Cinderella kinda way *cracks up* so 3.5 stars :) —MissBloodsucker™ All Sucked Out!
Here's a list of things this book had going for it: Fairytale Retelling Unique Take on the Cinderella Fairytale Historical Setting Characters with unique passions Lingo (Polish, 1940's style) And now let me tell you how it all went wrong... I sort of had high expectations for this novel but it just went wrong, so very, very wrong. I kept updates for this novel on Goodreads and it seemed like the further and further I got nothing happened. I got to about 40% and was ready to DNF, but I kept going. I got to 66% and still nothing. Now this I don't understand. How do you have this amazing setting and unique plot line and allow nothing to happen for that long. There were hints at what the true meat of the story was pretty early on but that's about all you got, a bunch of hints, and false hopes of anything happening. It wasn't until I got to about 80% in that anything remotely interesting happened and that's not even mentioning the romance. SORT OF SPOILER ALERT-->The dress which is the pinnacle of the entire story is supposed to be this highly coveted thing, people are willing to fight and kill over but they do not attempt to steal, fight, or kill over this dress until about 85% percent into the book. That was so very disappointing. The middle pieces weren't really enough to hold my attention so I kind of kept having to come back to it. The romance: It caught me off guard. I had to go back a chapter or two because I thought I missed something. It happened sort of out of the blue even though by the end of it when they were really and truly together I thought it was endearing. (END OF SPOILER) *sigh* If you are willing to wait until you get to about 80% end for anything remotely interesting to happen then I suggest you read this novel. If you are really into the idea of unique fairy tale retellings by all means check it out. But, do not say I did not warn you. Now that's not to say there is not something good in this story because there is but I just didn't find it worth having to read 75% of nothing to get to. I'm sad :(
So I have to confess that I was drawn to this story because of the gorgeous cover. I know that this not a reason to like a story or want to read. I don’t usually read Young Adults too much but I thought that this story sounded interesting. There were some aspects of the story I liked and some I thought didn’t really help the story. I compromised on a three star because I did like the story, I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. When the story starts a servant girl is entrusted in keeping a very important dress that belongs to her mistress. It is instantly clear that this dress is very important and the servant is sent away to keep it safe. The story then skips to present day “World War II”. The heroine, Kate, works at a shop. She has to fight a lot of sexism to keep it. The author really showed the struggles of woman in the era and their struggle to keep their jobs and be taken seriously. Kate is sweet but very young so there were moments when she became a little irritating. Basically she is a typical teenager, she has moments of doubts, and is not sure how to always handle situations. I thought that this book would be more like a fairytale but really the name “Cinderella” was as far as the fairytale aspect went. There are some parts of historical fiction, some parts of romance, some parts of intrigue and some parts are flat. I liked that Kate was a young person trying to find her way but I felt that the build of the dress was really just a ruse to get readers hooked. Overall, this was a cute and entertaining story. If any readers really like history and especially WWII they will enjoy this story and the nuisances of the time period.
This is a nice coming of age story set at the end of World War 2 and after. I liked the story a lot and would have loved it if it would have not been about the dress. Yes, the dress is the main story or supposed to but really most of the everything with the dress is over half way through the book. I LOVED Kate’s story, her life and how she deals with everything, living during war and making it. Her mother who seems to like to live her dream through her daughter. How Kate meets and gets to know relatives coming from Poland during the war. She finds a boy who then has to go serve in the War . And how she dreams to work in a job only men work. I loved her strong character who doesn’t give up easily. All of those things were beautiful and I enjoyed them a lot but I really could have lived without the story of the Cinderella dress, it became to much about the dress and less about the characters. I loved all the characters they were well written and easy to relate to. I Give this story only 3 ½¿ but think it could have been easily 5¿ if not for the dress taking over the story. *Received as a free arc copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you
When I received Cinderella's Dress, I imagined a fairy tale, WWII-style. I assumed that the protagonist Kate was going to be a more modern-day Cinderella. The blurb for it called Kate "the next keeper of the dress" but I guess I thought that was another way of creating a new kind of Cinderella in Kate. This was not the case. I've ended up with mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the story, enjoyed the characters, but I ended it feeling as if there was still so much I didn't know. The details of the era were there, however, and I truly appreciated that. There was a mention of Dior and the New Look, which I loved since I took a history class a few years ago on fashion and US History. Much of this book talked about fashion and clothes. I also loved Kate's great-aunt and great-uncle, although this is probably entirely a personal thing. I was a Polish linguist in the Army so I loved the interspersed Polish phrases and culture. Honestly, I think the only true issue I had with this book was the vagueness that seemed to exist around the dresses. I wanted to know more about what their importance was, why Kate's family had been entrusted with them, the slippers, the purpose of Kate's necklace. I also think that I went into the book with a more fantasy, fairy tale mindset. And this book was really more historical fiction/romance with a fantasy element. It is a book that I am going to reread at some point with a more focused mindset, because I think it really has the potential to be great. Things to love... --Johnny Day. A bit arrogant at times, but truly a good guy who makes a perfect book boyfriend. --Floyd. Kate's brother has a lot of loyalty and honor. Things I wanted more/less of... --More information. I wanted to know more about the dress and the story around them. This, after all, was the focus of the book. My Recommendation: Read this with a mind more towards historical fiction, rather than fantasy. It's a fun read with an interesting premise. I gave this 3.5 mugs. This review originally appeared on my blog, http://thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=9980.
When I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review, I worried about the romance because that's not my cup of tea. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to skim through pages of wishy-washy crushing. The romance is there but it's the romance of the Cinderella tale that inspired this book and I wound up liking the way the romance unfolded. The story takes off slowly but it didn't bother me because the story had a comfy feel to it - something I'd read on a rainy afternoon. On the flip side, this book definitely promises WWII and war implies action. The story reads more like a peek into a normal teenage white girl's life during the 1940s (except a normal girl would probably think about the war more). I expected more information about WWII but the war remains vague and in the background, affecting Kate, the main character, by influencing her interactions with other characters who slip off-stage to deal with the war. I love psychobilly so I enjoyed the references to old slang that I frequently use. I also loved the introduction to Polish words with pronunciations and definitions included even though I have no desire, reason, ability to learn Polish.
I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would - and I expected to enjoy it very much. It's not exactly a fairytale re-telling.....more of a what happened after imagining. Kate's family is wonderfully real and normal and quirky all at the same time. I loved the relationship that Slayton created between Kate and her mother. Her mother frustrated her but there was always a sense of love from Kate towards her even when things weren't ideal between them. I thought Slayton dealt with the issues of women's roles well. Certainly the war brought more women into the working world and Kate's desire to find a place in it felt very realistic. And her anger at losing any headway she might have gained once the war was over also felt realistic. One thing that felt off during the book was Kate's age. I don't recall it being specified exactly. The references to school and prom make it clear that she is still in high school. And so there will certainly be immaturity there and Kate did have moments that illustrated her youth. I remember thinking that I was a little over halfway through the book and it didn't seem that anything could be resolved by the end - it seemed like so much still needed to be covered. I wondered if this was going to be the first book in a series. I'm still not sure. The ending did come and there was resolution; however, there are certainly people out there who still want Cinderella's dress so there could be more to the story.
I was super intrigued by Cinderella's Dress when I was approached to give it a read. I mean, come on. I may be in my (very)(okay, maybe closer to mid) 30's but I remember hoping for my own Prince Charming and wishing that I could have a fairy godmother when I was a little girl. And now, Cinderella's dress might be real?!? I had to try this novel out. We all want that little piece of magic and that is what I hoped was within these pages. You know, it was a pretty good book. A little slow ... that's why I gave it 3 stars. The story was completely enchanting, even if it was a bit confusing at times with all of the Polish. But the story itself was something that really swept me up. The whole premise was something new and one that I think would appeal to a lot of readers. If it weren't so slow it would have been amazing ... oh and sometimes it would skip ahead MONTHS and not give any indication that that had happened. I really thought I had received an incomplete copy a couple of times. If there had been a "A few months later ... " heading or something. Anything would have worked. Those jumps in time with no warning or immediate explanation made the book start and stop and it just impeded the flow of the whole novel. You'll fall in love with Johnny and his interactions with the main character, Kate. She's a spunky one that kept Johnny on his toes - their conversations were fun to read. This is definitely a book to give a go. Maybe my expectations of pace is faster than yours. Cinderella's dress would be good to read if you're looking for a sweet, carefree, pool read.
I had such high hopes for this one...look at the cover! Read the blurb! Who doesn't want to read a historical fiction/fairy tale modernization mashup? There's oodles of potential here--and while it wasn't a wasted read, it wasn't quite what I was expecting (and hoping for) either. What I did love about this book--or should I say who?--was the character of Johnny. He's snarky but in a good-natured way; good-looking yet approachable. He didn't hold a grudge, and he was a darn good letter writer. He makes an excellent YA book boyfriend, though he doesn't get nearly enough page time here. Another plus for me was the dresses. I loved the description of them as well as the concept. The ball gown especially has some sneaky mad skills (not going to spoil what they are here) that were unexpected and very cool. I would really have liked to have seen more about them, though, so I could really understand how that particular part of this novel's world "worked". One thing I was really looking forward to was the WWII setting--to be honest, it's a huge part of why I picked this book to read and review. Though there were many historical aspects that were mentioned and gave me warm historical fuzzies, overall I just didn't get that feeling of total immersion in the time period that I was hoping for. The characters gave off a modern-day vibe throughout much of the book. Sure, the situations they were in were historical, but their reactions, comments, and actions didn't always ring true to the era they were supposed it be in. I did love the letters back and forth between Kate and her brother, father, and sweetheart, though--they were a really fun touch. The timeline of the novel was uneven--in parts time passed at a moderate pace with daily events described as they happened. Then there were gaps in time that went by without explanation, though, and it often took me a bit to realize that we'd gone forward in time from the paragraph before. (This could possibly be something that's addressed in the final copy--maybe the ARC didn't show an indicator that the final will, reflecting the shift in time?) It made the story feel somewhat disjointed, and this reader at least feeling like she was playing frequent catch up. The odd pacing was reflected in the ending as well--everything happened very quickly, and not everything felt as if it were a natural progression of what had come before. There were pretty major loose ends left by the novel's end, and no clear indication of whether or not there is going to be a second book. (If there is, I'll probably give it a go--I really do want to know what happened with the characters who are left hanging, and how the dresses are doing in the future--plus, hopefully the narrative of book two will be tightened up more than that of book one.) There also was some unnecessary repetition--of comments, thoughts, situations--that made it all the more frustrating when things I really wanted to know about (how do the dresses work? what do keepers do? what's the real history behind the story--the drama between the descendants of Cinderella and the descendants of the stepsisters through the generations?) are only addressed in vague generalizations. Kate's character too was a bit of a mixed bag--on the whole she wasn't bad, but she made some choices that just made me cringe. She was also really quick to make assumptions and then act on them without checking to see if they were holding true or not. (Also, her first kiss takes so long to come that at first I didn't even realize it was the first one. Until she told me it was, that is.) Overall, this book used a whole lot of words to tell not nearly enough story. There was so much potential here, but reading the novel felt as if you were just skimming over events, never really getting truly immersed in them. I probably will give book two--if there is one--a chance, but that will be more on the potential of this one than its reality. Plus, I'd love to see more of Johnny. Not to mention Kate's older brother Floyd.... Rating: 3 stars / C I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.