Little Black Dress: A Novel320
Little Black Dress: A Novel320
“I’ll read anything by Susan McBride.”
—Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels
“I’m madly in love with this full-of-surprises story about secrets, family ties—and one magical little black dress. One of my favorite novels of the year.”
—Melissa Senate, author of The Secret of Joy
“An enchanting escape into a magical world.”
—M.J. Rose, internationally bestselling author
Can there be magic in a Little Black Dress? Susan McBride, author of The Cougar Club and the Debutante Dropout mystery series, answers with a resounding, unequivocal, “Yes!” McBride’s mesmerizing tale of two sisters whose intertwined lives are torn apart by a remarkable dress that opens up doors to an inescapable future is an ingenious work of the imagination that recalls the novels of Claire Cook and Jill Kargman. A sometimes heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking look into two generations of women, this Little Black Dress is something every fan of quality contemporary women’s fiction will want to own.
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About the Author
Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of Blue Blood and the Debutante Dropout Mysteries that include The Good Girl's Guide to Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night of the Living Deb, Too Pretty to Die, and Say Yes to the Death. She also writes the bestselling River Road Mysteries and has penned three women’s fiction titles: The Truth About Love and Lightning, Little Black Dress, and The Cougar Club. She chronicled her bout with breast cancer in the short memoir, In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After Forty. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and daughter.
Read an Excerpt
Little Black DressA Novel
By Susan McBride
William Morrow PaperbacksCopyright © 2011 Susan McBride
All right reserved.
I never meant to resurrect the dress. I had intended for it to
remain out of reach so there would be no more meddling.
But I awoke before dawn with tears in my eyes after another
strange dream about Anna, and I knew that I had to find it.
A bruised looking sky bled between half-drawn curtains as I
dragged myself from bed and padded down the hallway in my
nightgown and bare feet. I switched on the attic light and grabbed
the banister to climb, my knees creaking as sharply as the wood
beneath my heels. At the top of the stairs, I paused to catch my
breath and loudly sneezed.
I'd forgotten how dusty it was up there and how full of things
forgotten: discarded furniture, a steamer trunk stuffed with my
parents' belongings, and more boxes than I could count. It could
take me days to dig through all the detritus. I wished I had
listened to Bridget about getting my life sorted out months ago so
there would be far less clutter. The house was full of it now. Like
so much of the past, I found it harder to face than to ignore.
Mr. Ashton's been dead two years, Miss Evie, she'd said yesterday,
as if I needed reminding. Sometimes it still felt like my teeth had
all been freshly pulled, the ache was so raw. You can't keep avoiding
the world. It hasn't stopped spinning just because you hoped it
would. He isn't coming back any more than Toni will, not if you
don't give her something to come back to.
The remark had stung deeply, and I resented Bridget for saying
it. My husband might be dead, but Antonia was not. She might
want nothing to do with me now that she was all grown up, but I
was still here for her, and her roots were entrenched in the dirt of
Blue Hills, no matter that she fancied herself a city girl.
Oh, dearest Antonia!
The thought of her gone nearly made me weep. I had wanted
so desperately to keep her close, but she'd flown away as soon as
she was able, just like Anna. And it exhausted me knowing that,
no matter how hard I'd tried to do what was right, I couldn't
seem to hold on to what I loved most in the world. I had lived
seventy-one years and everyone closest to meMother, Daddy,
Jon, Anna, even Tonihad left me one way or another. Was it
any wonder I'd hidden away the dress and all the confusion it had
Until the damned dream that wouldn't let me be. I had to
know the truth. I had to see what was coming, and putting on the
dress was the only way.
Amidst the smell of dust and disuse, I inhaled a well
remembered scent. Lily of the valley tickled my nose, drawing
me forward. Picking my way carefully through the mess, I edged
toward the corner of the attic, and my gaze fell upon a faded floral
hatbox, tucked squarely under the eaves. Grunting, I pushed aside
a wicker chair and half a dozen cartons to make a path.
By the time I reached it, I was panting, my breaths ragged. I
rubbed damp palms on flannelled thighs before I lifted the lid.
Photographs fluttered to the floorboards as I drew the black shift
from within and held it up to the light.
The fabric came alive before my eyes. Silk that had seemed
dull and faded on first glance sparkled beneath the glow of the
bare bulb. My hands shook as I set the dress down long enough to
drop my nightgown 'round my feet. I heard the crackle of static as
I pulled it over my head and tugged it past my hips, smoothing it
over my thighs with a sigh of relief. It fit as well as it had when I'd
worn it to Jon's funeral; but, of course, I'd known that it would.
Even stowed away these past two years, the dress had not
suffered for lack of wear. I felt its energy flow through my skin, much
stronger than I remembered; perhaps because I had become so
much weaker since the last time I'd donned it.
"Ah!" I gasped as blood surged to my head, making me dizzy. I
sank to my knees on the planked boards, oblivious to the discomfort
and I pressed hands to my eyes as the vision flitted through
my mind like a moving picture, sharper even than memories.
The sweetness of lily of the valley became pervasive, enveloping
me as I glimpsed Anna, clear as day, older than the last time I'd
seen her, much older. Toni stood at her side, their faces alike, pale
with pain. How sad they were as they gazed upon a solitary figure,
shrouded in black, lying perfectly still on a flat bed. "Oh, Evie," I
heard Anna say through her tears. "Don't leave us. Please, don't go.
It's not supposed to end like this." I saw myself then, lying beneath
the sheet, eyes shut, perfectly still.
Dear God. Am I to die?
I rocked back on my heels, my cheeks damp and chin trembling,
and I thought of my dream of Anna, of my sister returning,
and Toni, too. Was it my death that would bring them together?
I shook my throbbing head. No, no, no. I wasn't ready to go, not
before I'd set things right with them both, until we'd all told the
Maybe the dress is wrong, I thought, even though I didn't believe
it. It had never been wrong before, only misconstrued. Could that
be what was happening? But what else could it be showing me?
Blood rushed to my ears in loud, crashing waves, and a horrible
pain shot through my skull. I buried my face in my hands, pressing
hard at my temples, willing it to stop. Then it was gone, and
I felt nothing, heard nothing, and the world went completely and
Excerpted from Little Black Dress by Susan McBride Copyright © 2011 by Susan McBride. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow Paperbacks. 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.
What People are Saying About This
“With a deft hand and a sensitive heart, Susan McBride spins a magical tale. A bittersweet, Gothic past melds perfectly with a tender and revelatory present. Part mystery, part love story. Emotionally satisfying, LITTLE BLACK DRESS is an enchanting escape into a magical and wonderful world. A delight to read.”
“With sparkle and wit, Susan McBride crafts both a family saga of painful secrets and a modern story of a woman who thinks she’s got it all under control until everything she thought she knew blows apart. Little Black Dress is a beguiling story of fate, love, and magic.”
“Written with touching insight into family relationships and what we call home, The Little Black Dress is a lovely and entertaining journey into the magical side of things. I bet you’ll never look at your closet the same way again.”
“I’ll read anything by Susan McBride.”
“Susan McBride’s LITTLE BLACK DRESS sparkles with magic! It’s part love story, part mystery, part family saga, all wrapped together in the wonder of an amazing little dress that will leave you crying and cheering. I loved this book!”
“Little Black Dress is big on heart, secrets and magic. This enchanting novel is a book-shelf essential.”
“LITTLE BLACK DRESS is a delightful, emotional and thoroughly engaging exploration of the connections that bind women together and the magic that’s created when mothers, daughters and sisters learn to open their eyes and hearts to their truest desires.”
“I’m madly in love with this full-of-surprises story about secrets, family tiesand one magical little black dress. One of my favorite novels of the year.”