Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Little Black Dress"

Susan McBride is the author of Little Black Dress and The Cougar Club, selected by Target Stores as a Bookmarked Breakout Title and named a Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Booksellers Association. The Cougar Club also made More Magazine’s list of “February Books We’re Buzzing About.”

McBride applied the Page 69 Test to Little Black Dress and reported the following:
Little Black Dress is the tale of two sisters, one daughter, and a magical black dress that changes all their lives forever. It’s told in alternating points of view, with Evie—the older sister—speaking in first person and recounting the history of the magical dress—and Evie’s daughter, Toni, revealing the contemporary storyline in third person. So ultimately, past meets present. But in the beginning, Evie’s younger sister, Anna, has purchased the vintage dress and has worn it to her rehearsal dinner the night before she is to wed Davis Cummings, the son of a well-to-do local vintner in Blue Hills, Missouri. The dress does something odd to Anna—it gives her a glimpse of her future—and she disappears the morning of her wedding, leaving Evie to pick up the pieces of her destroyed family and to try to destroy the black dress. Only getting rid of the mystical frock isn’t quite so easy. And, in the process, Evie gets a peek at her own future as well.

On page 69 of Little Black Dress, Evie is being asked to dinner by a young man she met after falling into the Mississippi (something the black dress may or may not be responsible for--well, I don’t want to spoil it for you!). She has the dress in hand, recently returned by Jonathan. It’s been cleaned, pressed, and wrapped in a layer of tissue. And still, just touching the dress affects her.
…as I held it, I could sense its energy washing through my skin. Though it seemed illogical to say so, I knew the dress wanted me to go. And, to be honest, so did I.

In the end, I told him, “All right, yes, I’ll have dinner with you. If you’ll please call me Evie,” and the prickling sensation ceased.
Evie decides not to tell her parents that she’s going out with Jonathan, as things are still uneasy after Anna’s vanishing act. She merely mentions she will be going out to supper with a friend to take her mind off Anna.
Not surprisingly, they appeared to only half-listen. They were too busy fretting over the destruction left in my sister’s wake to worry about what I was doing. They’d begun to fight about Anna in front of me, once at the breakfast table where my mother had burst into tears.

“It’s your fault!” she had accused my father. “You drove her off!”

Daddy had turned red down to his collar. “The girl is vain and self-absorbed. Do you blame me for that, too?”

Sadly, I’d noticed they’d started sleeping in separate rooms. It was no wonder when I was home, I’d begun hiding out in mine, the door closed and my record player on to drown out their voices.

The only time I could escape was when I left the house to teach, so I was honestly glad when the evening of my date with Jonathan rolled around.
Evie debates whether or not to wear the black dress, as Jon had requested of her.
Not only was I wary because of its unnatural qualities, but I was sure it wouldn’t fit, considering how snugly it had hugged Anna’s petite though shapely frame. Since I was taller than my sister by a fist, not to mention lanky and angular as a boy, I expected it to fall far short of my knees and hang like a deflated tent.

But Jon wanted me in it, and I was curious.
That’s all you get! Does the odd little black dress fit Evie? Will she catch a further glimpse of her future if she wears it?

Ahh, for that you’ll have to turn to page 70 and keep reading!
Learn more about the book and author at Susan McBride's website.

Writers Read: Susan McBride.

--Marshal Zeringue