Kitty Zeldis (Not Our Kind) expertly braids the lives of three women in her second historical novel, The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights. Catherine Berrill, happily wed to a kind man, is desperate for a child to complete her vision of a family. But a stillbirth leaves her devastated, both unable and unwilling to move forward. Down the street, dressmaker Beatrice Jones, newly arrived from New Orleans, has a carefully guarded secret that connects her to Catherine's past. Beatrice's young ward, Alice, is gifted with a needle but unschooled in the ways of the world, and her impulsivity combined with her naivete will lead to unforeseen consequences for all three women.
Zeldis brings 1920s Brooklyn to vivid life, rendering the neighborhood of Prospect Heights and the one-of-a-kind creations in Bea's shop in lush detail. She takes readers back to Bea's previous life (and career as a madam) in New Orleans, and even farther back to her childhood in Russia, weaving the flashbacks into the main narrative. Zeldis sensitively explores the more difficult sides of motherhood and daughterhood, including Catherine's prickly relationship with her mother, Meredith; the realities of postpartum depression; and the limited options for women lacking either husbands or money. The complex motivations of all three women--guilt, love, loneliness, self-preservation and revenge--drive Zeldis's story, resulting in an odd but unbreakable bond between Bea, Alice and Catherine. Though she doesn't shy away from challenging topics, Zeldis's novel, like the relationships at its center, ends on a note of beauty and hope. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams