All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Little French Bridal Shop by Jennifer Dupee

on July 14, 2021

The Little French Bridal Shop
Jennifer Dupee
Allen & Unwin
2021, 291p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}: When Larisa Pearl returns to her small seaside home town to manage her beloved great aunt’s estate, she’s an emotional mess. Larisa has just lost her job and her boyfriend and she’s struggling to cope with her mother’s failing health. But as she walks past the bridal shop window, a beautiful ivory satin wedding gown catches her eye…

Now, to the delight of everyone in town, Larisa is planning her wedding. She’s bought the dress, made floral arrangements and set the date. The only thing she doesn’t have is the groom. How did this happen? All she did was try on a dress and let her fantasy take flight.

Lost in a web of her own lies, Larisa must first face some difficult truths, including her mother’s fragile future, before she can embrace her family, straighten out her life and open her heart to finding love.

I have to admit, I struggled with this book a bit.

The first reason is, I think my own misconceptions. The cover and the description make it sound like it’s going to be a fun little rom com maybe – main character Larisa is tempted into a bridal shop despite not being engaged and suddenly finds herself buying a dress, planning a wedding. Only thing missing is a groom! But it’s not really like that at all…..

Larisa has recently lost her job and ended her relationship so it makes sense that she be the one to ready her great aunt’s house for sale after her recent passing. It’s a house she knows well, she visited often and learned a lot by spending time with her great aunt, who lived a very formal life. For some reason, Larisa walks into the bridal shop on her first day in town and it’s run by a former teacher of hers who is thrilled that Larisa is getting married. Except Larisa isn’t – but she tries on every dress in the shop anyway and finds the perfect one.

My biggest problem was, I really did not like Larisa as a character at all. The way in which she describes what she says to her former boyfriend when they split up, is awful. Her lying is incredibly problematic and her mother has dementia, which Larisa does her best to make all about her. I understand that people react to terrible things in different ways….but Larisa’s way is incredibly hard to read. Or make excuses for. She avoids her mother, leaving the entirety of her care to her father, and even perpetuates the lies to her father as well. The thing is, he knows she’s lying also.

Rounding out the reasons I didn’t enjoy this book is Jack – the caretaker of the house, who has worked there since he was a teenager. He’s now in his late thirties, married with eleven year old triplet boys and Jack is a walking cliche. His marriage has lost its excitement to him, so he leaves his wife to do the bulk of the childcare and the taking care of the home whilst he stays out later and later. Jack treats his wife horrifically – and when they separate he goes to live at the house Larisa is fixing up because in his mind, it’s his house too given he’s worked there for so long. Jack and Larisa have known each other since they were teenagers and they embark on this will they or won’t they hook up sort of thing, while each of them are perpetuating the lie about getting married (Larisa) and just generally being terrible at the fathering and husband thing (Jack).

Jack was such an awful person to read about. His thoughts about his wife and marriage, the back-and-forth in his mind, his determination to be a better husband and father that lasts about five minutes every time he thinks it, he just needed to grow up and stop resenting the choices that had gotten him to where he was. He doesn’t come across as a particularly hands-on father, preferring to take his boys out in a boat rather than help with the day-to-day life. He complains internally about his wife’s form of employment and how it takes over their house and how it’s all she talks about, he dislikes the fact that she has always resented the time he spent caretaking the house for Larisa’s now deceased great-aunt. When separated from his wife, he pursues Larisa but forgets about that when something happens to his wife and then realises that perhaps that wasn’t what he wanted either.

The only people I liked in this whole book were Larisa’s parents – her poor, dedicated father who took such wonderful care of his wife, his patience and gentleness with her. He doesn’t reproach Larisa for the fact she hasn’t been to visit in a while and Larisa is too embarrassed to explain to people that her mother has demential now so she lies and says they’re hiking in the Himalayas or holidaying in Palm Beach. She has a real aversion to acknowledging the illness and its effect on her mother, which, you know, I might’ve excused in a person in their teens or even early 20s. But Larisa was 38 or 39 (the same age I am actually) and it just made it seem really ridiculous, especially the denial and lying.

I really like the cover but the story inside didn’t match it unfortunately.


Book #118 of 2021

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