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Little Black Dress: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Susan McBride
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“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.

Editorial Reviews Review

Product Description
Two sisters whose lives seemed forever intertwined are torn apart when a magical little black dress gives each one a glimpse of an unavoidable future.

Antonia Ashton has worked hard to build a thriving career and a committed relationship, but she realizes her life has gone off track. Forced to return home to Blue Hills when her mother, Evie, suffers a massive stroke, Toni finds the old Victorian where she grew up as crammed full of secrets as it is with clutter. Now she must put her mother’s house in order—and uncover long-buried truths about Evie and her aunt, Anna, who vanished fifty years earlier on the eve of her wedding. By shedding light on the past, Toni illuminates her own mistakes and learns the most unexpected things about love, magic, and a little black dress with the power to break hearts… and mend them.

Amazon Exclusive: Charlaine Harris Interviews Susan McBride

Susan McBride and Charlaine Harris met in 1999 when Susan’s very first novel was published by a small press and Charlaine was an established mystery author, writing two separate series (the Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard Mysteries). Susan went on to do five Debutante Dropout Mysteries for HarperCollins/Avon while Charlaine tried her hand at a Southern Vampire Mystery featuring telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse. When Dead Until Dark was released in 2001, Susan passed out wax vampire teeth at the Mayhem in the Midlands Convention to celebrate her friend’s new book, hoping it might just catch on. My, what a different a dozen years makes! Charlaine’s 11th Southern Vampire Novel, Dead Reckoning, was recently released and hit #1 on virtual every bestsellers list while HBO’s TrueBlood heats up the small screen. In the meanwhile, Susan has taken a leap of her own and in a mystical direction as well, penning her first novel of magic realism, Little Black Dress, prompting Charlaine to ask a few questions of her old pal.

Charlaine Harris: Writers approach a genre switch with trepidation. Were you excited? Anxious?

Susan McBride: I was very comfortable writing series mysteries but always had the itch to try something else. I was fortunate to be asked to write several young adult books and then The Cougar Club, my first mainstream novel, which gave me the confidence to attempt Little Black Dress. And I needed that confidence! Writing Little Black Dress was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t think I’ve ever gone so deep into a story or into the characters, and it took over my life for months and months. I’m both excited and anxious for the book to come out, wondering what my mystery readers will think of it and hoping it attracts readers who’ve never read my books as well.

CH: What was your fundamental beginning idea for Little Black Dress? Was it a key scene, an interesting situation, the character of the protagonist?

SM: I’d love to say the idea came to me in a dream but it was really very simple. I was thinking of things that are common to all women—daughters, sisters, mothers, wives—and I envisioned a little black dress. Maybe because my mother always insisted that every girl should have at least one in her closet since they worked well at most any function: cocktail party, graduation, fancy dinners, and, of course, funerals. I wondered, though, what if there was a dress that fit several women in one family, all of whom were different sizes. And what if this dress was made of a very special silk that seemed “alive” and that, when donned, made its wearer glimpse her future. Then I saw two very different sisters from the 1960s, one destined toward spinsterhood and one on the eve of her wedding to a rich man she didn’t love. I wondered how putting on a magic black dress that revealed their fates could change both their lives. Would it push them apart or bind them together? Would the dress affect a second generation? So that’s where I started, and the idea blossomed from there.

CH: Why did you decide it was the right time to try something different?

SM: I’d been contemplating what I wanted to do after The Cougar Club as I so enjoyed telling that tale of three women and their great friendship. I think The Cougar Club is filled with hope and love, and I wanted to spin another story about hope and love and forgiveness but in a completely different way. Dealing with the magical element was definitely something I hadn’t tried before, but my agents and my editor were thrilled. In fact, I felt such enthusiasm from them over my Little Black Dressidea that it was kind of daunting. I knew I had to stretch my literary muscles further with Little Black Dress and dig a little deeper than I had before. Maybe because I have a sister—and we’re as much polar opposites as Anna and Evie Evans in Little Black Dress, I got very emotional while writing the book. But it all seemed to come together perfectly. I hate to say I think it’s fate, but I do!

CH: Was the editing process different for this very different book?

SM: Hmm, that’s an interesting question! It was a challenge to make sure I unveiled the mystery of the black dress and the sisters’ fates in a linear fashion while using two points of view: that of Evie, the older sister, and Antonia, her daughter. Evie’s perspective is very personal and historical, and Toni’s viewpoint is much more modern. So it was a matter of keeping the tension there while moving the story along, and reaching a place where past meets present (for want of a better description). My agents and my editor were incredibly insightful, and the novel is much stronger for their input.

CH: Do you think you’ll want to write more books like Little Black Dress, or do you think you’ll return to conventional mysteries?

SM: Yes, I’d love to write more books like Little Black Dresswith magical elements. It’s very freeing to know you can go beyond the boundaries of reality and what’s considered “normal” in these books, and I adore that feeling. In fact, I’ll be dipping into the world of magic realism with my next novel, Little White Lies.

CH: Last but not least, do you have a great little black dress that you can’t live without?

SM: I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t. I just have a really old one hanging in the back of my closet. And it would probably take some magic to make it fit. So I think I’d better go shopping!


“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.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 677 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; Original edition (August 23, 2011)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FEF6O2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,240 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story with a hint of Magic July 3, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was a little skeptical of the "magical" aspect of this book before I read it - I normally don't read paranormal stories. However, the author uses the black dress in a charming fashion which won me over and had me almost believing. This is the first of Ms. McBride's works that I have read; however, I know that I will be reading more her books in the future.

The true magic is in the writing of the three main characters of the book, Toni, Evie, and Anna. Toni is the daughter who comes home to find herself after her mother suffers from a stroke. Evie and Anna (Toni's mother and aunt) find one another and forgiveness after many years separation. The author brought these three women to life for me. I felt as if I knew them and was happy for their joys and sad for their sorrows.

While it is ultimately a happy story, the road to the happy ending is not always happy - there are bumps in the road, wrong turns, dead ends, and people get lost. Just like in real life. I was tickled by the ending of the book, something that I hadn't foreseen up to that point.

I know that I will think of these characters again and again. Thank you, Ms. McBride for such a lovely treat.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Black Dress January 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
One of the best books I've read in awhile. I have already told my friends they needed to read this. First book I read by Susan McBride and I will most likely start reading her other books. 4 Thumbs up to Susan McBride.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Story August 7, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A simple black dress bought on impulse can change the lives of a family forever. On the night before Anna's wedding she decides to wear the black dress instead of the one she had purchased and has visions that she truly believes and therefore decides not to go ahead with the wedding, cancels it and embarrasses her family and her future in-laws. She seems to have vanished out of sight and then one day her sister is so upset she wants to return the dress which she considers evil to find that the store is not there and is going to throw it in the river when she nearly drowns and is saved by a total stranger is it fate of the little black dress.?
Her mother is found in the attic having had a stroke and was wearing the same black dress when Antonia Ashton has to return to the town of Blue Hills and find out what other secrets are hidden that have not been told. This dress has a history of its own and soon Antonia will discover secrets that have been buried and lives will change and things around her.

It is an amazing story and will keep you interested in it from beginning to end. I had never read a Susan McBride book before but now am a fan for life. Keep writing.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just ok June 24, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Little Black Dress combines family drama with a touch of magic to produce a story that is not especially unique or riveting, but is well told. We meet Evie, her sister Anna, and Evie's daughter Toni through alternating chapters narrated by Evie and Toni. Evie has had a stroke and daughter Toni rushes to her side, leaving behind a successful business and a less than successful relationship. While Evie lies in a coma, Toni begins to uncover secrets about her past and starts the work of coming to terms with her mother.

While the story line was rather predictable, the characters were stellar. I felt like I truly knew all three women, and this was what kept me reading even though I figured out where things were going pretty early on. The black dress ultimately just felt like a plot device- a catalyst to move things along so these three women could find each other again. I never truly felt the magic I believe the author intended.

This book is outside of my usual reading tastes which run a bit more towards action and paranormal than romance and family. I was expecting something more on the lines of an Alice Hoffman work, so perhaps this one suffered a bit unfairly in the comparison. The author's characters were the highlight of the book for me, and while the writing was okay, and the plot was okay, it just wasn't one that I felt eager to return to.

If you enjoy a good multi-generational family drama, then you will probably find more to like here than I did. For me, it was just okay.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book February 23, 2014
By Marla
Format:Kindle Edition
Very enjoyable book. Had I been able to, I would have read this in one sitting. This book is about a magical little black dress. It's about sisters. It's about relationships. It's about how one choice you make can have a domino affect on other people's lives. It's about the path other people think you should be on might not be the right path for you or for everyone in the future. This book goes back and forth between Evie and her daughter Antonia (Toni) telling the story. Evie the past and Toni the present. It flows really well and the back and forth works. I got sucked into the lives of these characters and started to care for them. I found when I was done I wanted to know a little bit more. I wanted to know more details of their lives. I highly recommend this book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The little black dress links the futures of family July 25, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
(3.5 stars) Antonia (Toni)runs an event planning business and is hoping that her boyfriend is going to ask her to marry when he takes her out for a fancy dinner. She is horribly disappointed when he just asks her to move in. Before she can respond, she receives a call that her mother has had a stroke and is hospitalized. She leaves immediately to head to her small home town and is met by her mother's housekeeper, who informs her that she found her mother in a black dress in the attic. Evie, Toni's mother had been searching for something relating to her long-lost sister, Anna. The key item tying the past to the present is the little black dress which was purchased in a strange little shop by Anna. The dress has a magic about it, fitting any woman who wears it, and it provides glimpses into the future. The dress is the key to unraveling a host of family secrets. The story goes back and forth between the history of the two sisters and Toni's discoveries as she tries to sort out what has been going on in her mother's life and the family's vineyard, as well as what she wants from her own life. This was a nice blend a family story with a hint of magic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I was overall disappointed with how the story ended up going and felt...
This book was okay. The story is told from 2 different view points and I found the alternating to be confusing to keep up with. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Katelyn Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars great read~
I totally enjoyed the mystery of the dress, the romances of the characters and the generational connections and links! Great book!
Published 22 months ago by Marissa Walter
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written & interesting story
I really liked this book-enough to write a review, which is saying something. I rarely take the time. Looking forward to your next book,
Published 22 months ago by Beth Pachman
4.0 out of 5 stars A Romantic Twist
This book was well written and the touch of mysticism makes it interesting. You really want to know what happens next.
Published 23 months ago by Peggy Fredendall
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Twists, turns, romance, magic, and mystery, all in one book. It's a good read and you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!
Published 23 months ago by ibcynthy
4.0 out of 5 stars Suspend Reality And Have A Little Fun With Little Black Dress
Little Black Dress is mostly a story about a mother, a daughter and family secrets. Throw in a little romance and magic, and there you have it. Read more
Published on August 14, 2012 by G. McCarthy
4.0 out of 5 stars Zip Me Into One of These, Please
Two sisters and a daughter - or is it a niece? - and a magic dress. We have a mother, Evie, suffering a stroke, her daughter Toni coming home to care for her, and a missing aunt,... Read more
Published on June 24, 2012 by Beverly Diehl
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Pleasing Read!
This book is the second donated by Susan McBride for the Readathon for International Chick Lit Month event at Stonecrest Library. Read more
Published on May 17, 2012 by Writer's Corner
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read!
This book is a tip of the grownup hat to the young adult bestseller, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. Read more
Published on March 15, 2012 by Stacy Alesi
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of sisters and a magical dress
This is basically a story of sisters whose lives are changed (or perhaps just revealed) by a little black dress. Read more
Published on February 20, 2012 by Nanciejeanne
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More About the Author

Susan McBride is the USA Today Bestselling author of Blue Blood and four other award-winning Debutante Dropout Mysteries from HarperCollins/Avon, including The Good Girl's Guide To Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night Of The Living Deb, and Too Pretty To Die. A sixth title, Say Yes to the Death, will be out in September 2015. Susan has another series with Avon, the River Road Mysteries, starting with To Helen Back, Mad as Helen, and Not a Chance in Helen.

Susan's first young adult thriller, Very Bad Things, was published in hardcover by Delacorte Press in October of 2014.

In addition to her mysteries, Susan has penned three well-received women's fiction titles. The Truth About Love & Lightning (02/13) was selected by Target stores for their Emerging Authors program, was a Midwest Connections Pick, and was dubbed "a poignant page-turner" by Publishers Weekly. Little Black Dress spent five weeks on the St. Louis bestsellers list and was a Target Recommended Read. The Cougar Club was selected by Target Stores as a Bookmarked Breakout Title and named a Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Booksellers Association. Foreign editions of Susan's books have been published in France, Turkey, Croatia, and Bulgaria (and coming soon, Lithuania!).

Susan has one nonfiction title available: In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After 40, which tells her tale of becoming an "accidental Cougar" and marrying a younger man, her cancer diagnosis at age 42, and finding herself pregnant at 47.

She has authored several YA non-mystery novels for Delacorte about debutantes in Houston: The Debs (2008) and Love, Lies, And Texas Dips (2009). Gloves Off, the third book, will be released in late 2015.

In January of 2012, Susan was named one of St. Louis's "Most Dynamic People of the Year" by the Ladue News. In April of 2012, she was given the "Survivor of the Year" Award by the St. Louis affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. As Susan likes to say, "Life is never boring." Visit Susan's web site at for more scoop.

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