When the love of her life, Ed, announces his suprise engagement to her best friend, Julia Schuster is distraught but determined not to let them see how much she’s hurting. She spies a remarkable dress in Shoestring, her sister’s designer second-hand shop, and knows she’ll only be able to stagger through the wedding day, showing everyone how over Ed she is, if she’s wrapped in its soft silk chiffon. Unfortunately it costs mega bucks and she’s barely hanging onto her job as it is.
Arietty Pilgrim can’t and won’t attend her fiercely competitive school reunion unless she can arrive wearing exactly the same dress. But working as an elephant keeper in Dublin Zoo does not a millionaire make.
But fate has a funny way of bringing people together. Just as Julia start to flounder amidst family troubles, problem drinking and a broken heart, she meets Arietty and together they set up The Shoestring Club – time sharing one extraordinary dress and beginning a life-altering friendship.
When Julia Schuster returned from her travels abroad after university, the last thing she expected to find is that her boyfriend Ed had hooked up with her best friend Lainey whilst she was away and that they were now engaged. But to make matters worse they hope that she will forgive them and have invited her to the wedding to share in their special day.
This sets Julia off on a trail of self-destruction much to the disapproval of her family; she's either moping alone in the family home with a bottle of wine for company or out on the town every night meaning that she's constantly hungover and late for work. When she's let go from her job her grandmother Bird forces her to come and work in the Shoestring, the family's second hand designer clothes shop, alongside her sister Pandora but she's got to stop feeling sorry for herself and deal with her issues.
Whilst working in the shop she comes across the perfect dress to wear to Ed and Lainey's wedding, a wedding her family don't think she should go to, but the problem is that she cannot afford it but seeing how much Julia loves it Pandora agrees to put it aside for her for a while. Julia just needs to find a way to come up with the money to buy the dress but when another customer Arietty also falls in love with the dress and wants it for her school reunion, Julia is in danger of losing the perfect wedding outfit.
However, both Julia and Arietty realise that neither can afford the dress on their own which is when a suggestion is made to set up The Shoestring Club and share the dress... they just need to find another couple of like minded women to help buy the dress. Will they get to wear their dream dress to their events?
This book had a little bit of everything, love, sadness, friendships, humour as well as a wonderful mix of characters, my favourite of which was Bird, Julia's grandmother, the matriarch of the family who wants the best for her family but is not afraid to play the tough love act when needed... It's essentially a story about picking yourself and starting life all over again with the help of family and friends.
I'd like to thank Sarah's lovely publishers Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of The Shoestring Club to review. I'm already looking forward to reading Sarah's next book due out next year, The Memory Box, which is Pandora Schuster's story.