This is the first novel by Patricia Hickman for me, and I'm not sure it was the best choice for first read. I'm undecided about how I feel...maybe by the end of my review, I'll know:-)
Older and more responsible, Gaylen returns home for her father's funeral and to take custody of her troubled younger sister, Delia. At least, that's the story she tells people.
In reality, she's running from her crumbling marriage, her bad decisions, and her uncertain past. Hoping to connect with her sister and their childhood, Gaylen agrees to help Delia hide from her own dangerous decisions by taking her on a road trip.
At their Aunt Amity's cabin, Gaylen discovers hidden family secrets in the paintings her aunt created from old dresses. Each one is tagged for a particular family member. Curious, Gaylen decides to make deliveries in hopes of finding out more of her troubled family history.
Throughout the novel, cousins and aunts and uncles pop in and out of the story...I had a difficult time keeping everyone straight in my head. I think Delia is mentally challenged, but I was never quite sure...she just may be weird and off the wall. And I never connected with Gaylen...she just got on my nerves.
All in all, I believe the story is very well written. There were moments of humor that held me for a page or two, but then I would slip back into the abyss of "I just don't care about these people."
Honestly, it was a struggle for me to finish the book. BUT, that doesn't mean Patricia's writing isn't good...it just means it isn't for me. (So fans, put down your rocks, pretty please:-)
It's odd when I can give a book a great review when I didn't enjoy reading the story. That's the difference between craft and entertainment. The crafting of the novel...excellent. The entertainment factor for me...not so high.
So, I'm giving "Painted Dresses" three out of five bookmarks...and if you like convoluted stories of Southern women who get themselves entangled in the past like nobody's business...with a cast of characters that can quite possibly make your head spin...try this one on for size.