March 5, 2020

The Grace Kelly Dress Blog Tour: Excerpt

The Grace Kelly Dress: A Novel
Author: Brenda Janowitz

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary Women
On Sale Date: March 3, 2020
Trade Paperback
$16.99 USD, $22.99 CAD
336 pages

Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and
one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own
paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a
Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she
finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible
choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one  problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the
dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s
wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.

The mother of the bride, as a bride herself
Long Island, 1982

She loved the dress. She loved the veil that went with it, too, though she wasn’t sure if it
could be salvaged. It was showing signs of age, its edges curling and tinged with brown.
But that wouldn’t dull her excitement.

Today was the day she would be trying on her mother’s wedding dress. Even though
Joanie had tried it on countless times as a child—it was a favorite rainy-day activity with
her mother—today felt different. She was engaged, just like she’d dreamed about ever
since she could remember. When she tried the dress on this time, it was for keeps. She
was completely in love with the dress.

“Let me help you get it on,” Joanie’s mother said, her French accent coming through.
It was always more pronounced when she was feeling emotional. With her American
friends, Joanie noticed, her mother always tried to sound “American,” softening her
accent and using American expressions. But when they were alone, she could be
herself. Let her guard down. Joanie knew exactly who her mother was, and she loved
her for it.

Her mother handed Joanie a pair of white cotton gloves and then put on her own set.
The first step in trying the dress on, always, so that the oils in their hands wouldn’t defile
the fabric. She laid the large box on her bed and nodded her head at her husband, her
signal to give them privacy. The door closed to Joanie’s childhood bedroom, and she
and her mother were alone.

The white cotton gloves were cool and smooth on her skin. Joanie opened the box
slowly. So slowly. It was sealed with a special plastic that was supposed to keep it
airtight so that the dress would not oxidize and turn yellow. She and her mother laughed
as they struggled to set the dress free. The last time she tried the dress on was the
summer before her sister died. It was after Michele’s death that her mother brought the
dress into the city so that it might be cleaned properly and preserved for just this day. At
the time, Joanie hadn’t understood the connection between her sister’s sudden death
and her mother’s tight grip on family heirlooms, but now, a year into her psychology
degree at NYC University, she understood. It was so hard to hold on to things that were
important to you, things that mattered, and preserving her wedding dress, this memory,
was her mother’s way of taking control of something. It was something she could save.

The dress was just as beautiful as she’d remembered. Crafted from rose point lace,
the same lace used on Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding dress, it was delicate and classic
and chic and a million other things Joanie couldn’t even articulate.

“Go on,” her mother said, holding the first part of the dress—the bodice with the
attached underbodice, skirt support, and slip—out for her to take. As a child, it had
thrilled Joanie to no end that the wedding dress her mother wore was actually made up
of four separate pieces. It was like a secret that a bride could have on her special day,
something that no one else knew.

“I couldn’t,” Joanie said, hands at her side. Knowing how carefully preserved the
dress had been, what the dress had meant to her mother, it was hard for Joanie to
touch it. She didn’t want to get it dirty, sully its memory. “It’s just so beautiful.”

“It’s yours now,” her mother said, smiling warmly. “The dress belongs to you. Put it

Joanie kicked off her ballerina flats, and her mother helped her ease the bodice on.
Joanie stood at attention as her mother snapped the skirt into place, and wrapped the
cummerbund around her waist. Joanie held her hands high above her head, not wanting
to get in the way of her mother’s expert hands, hands that knew exactly where to go,
fingers that knew exactly what to do.

“You ready in there, Birdie?” her father yelled from the hallway, impatient, his French
accent just as strong as the day he left France. Joanie always loved how her father had
a special nickname for her mother. When they first married, he would call her mother
GracieBird, a nickname of Grace Kelly’s, because of the Grace Kelly–inspired wedding
gown she wore on their wedding day. Eventually, it was shortened to Bird, and then over
time, it became Birdie. What would Joanie’s fiancé call her?

Joanie inspected her reflection in the mirror. Her shoulder-length blond hair, recently
permed, looked messy. Her pink eye shadow, which had always seemed so grown-up
on her sister, made her appear tired and puffy-eyed. But the dress? The dress was

Her mother opened the door slowly, and her father’s face came into view. His
expression softened as he saw his daughter in the wedding dress. She walked out into
the hallway, towards him, and she could see a tear forming in the corner of his eye.

She turned to her mother, about to tell her that Daddy was crying, when she saw that
her mother, too, had teared up. Joanie couldn’t help it—seeing her mother and father
cry, she began to cry as well. She could never keep a dry eye when someone else was
crying, least of all her parents, ex-pats from Europe who hardly ever cried.

Michele’s presence floated in the air like a haze, but no one would say it. No one
dared mention that she would have worn the dress first. Should have worn the dress

“And look at us,” her mother said, her hands reaching out and grabbing for her
husband and daughter. “All of us crying like little babies.”

All three embraced—carefully, of course, so as not to ruin the dress.

Her father kissed the top of her head. “Give us a twirl.”

Joanie obliged. The dress moved gracefully as she spun. Joanie curtsied, and her
father gently took her hand and kissed it.

“I know what you’re thinking,” her mother said, her voice a song.

“What?” Joanie asked absentmindedly, while staring at her reflection in the mirror.
She knew the first thing she’d change—the sleeves. The dress needed big, voluminous
sleeves, just like Princess Diana had worn on her wedding day.

“Or I should say who you’re thinking about,” her mother said, a gentle tease.

“Who?” Joanie asked, under her breath, twirling from side to side in front of the mirror,
watching the dress move.

“Your fiancé,” her mother said, furrowing her brow. “Remember him?”

“For sure,” Joanie said, spinning around to face her mother. “My fiancé. Yes. I knew
that. And, yes. I was.” But the truth was, she had completely forgotten.

Excerpted from The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz. Copyright © 2020 by Brenda Janowitz. Published by Graydon House Books.


Brenda Janowitz is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party and Recipe for a Happy Life. She is the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Brenda's work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Salon, Redbook, and the New York Post. She lives in New York.

Social Links: 
Facebook: @BrendaJanowitz
Twitter: @BrendaJanowitz
Instagram: @brendajanowitzwriter

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble
Apple Books
Indie Bound
Harlequin Trade Publishing


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