Francie Meeker and Vi Carothers were sold a bill of goods: find a man, marry him in a white wedding gown, and live happily ever after. These best friends never expected to be on the train to Reno, those “lies in white dresses” shattered, their marriages over.
On board the train they meet June Samples, who is fleeing an abusive husband with her daughter, and take the vulnerable young mother under their wing. The three decide to wait out the required six weeks together, and then they can toss their wedding bands into the Truckee River and start new lives as divorcees.
But as they settle in at the ranch, one shocking moment will change their lives forever. As it brings their deceptions and fears into focus, it will also demand a reckoning with the past, and the choices that a person in love can be driven to make.
What is Lies in White Dresses about?
This book is about three women who, for their own reasons, need to get divorced and have decided to go to Reno to do it. Based on a real period of time where women could get speedy divorces in Reno, the book focuses on the circumstances that lead these three women to taking such a monumental step. There’s even some new romance to fall into!
Genre: Historical Fiction
This book inhabits a real historical period, but there’s also plenty going on that’s not about the historical fiction. If anything, emotions are the most important driving force in the book. It’s far more character driven than plot driven.
Tropes: Happy Endings All Around
This is one of those “found family” type of stories where everyone the main characters associate with that they like gets a sweet ending with love and happiness, whereas all the “bad” characters get some kind of deserved punishment.
Plot: Go to Reno, Fix Your Life
Yeah, that’s kind of it. All the adult characters go to Reno to fix a variety of life problems, and I believe they all end up staying too.
I found that I liked all the characters in this story, even the surprisingly hilarious twelve-year-old. There’s a rotating third person perspective that gives a pretty solid idea of all the aspects of the story. Some of the plot beats were predictable, but never in away that detracted from the overall story. I thought the setting was entertaining, and the premise definitely drew me in from the beginning. I also liked how different the female characters were in terms of tropes and character types. Also, this novel is surprisingly positive with the LGBT+ characters, which I didn’t expect going in.
The predictability of the plot was fine for me, but I definitely think in a different mood I would have found it annoying. Be warned that if you don’t like a predictable plot you probably won’t enjoy this at all. I also found the lack of concrete resolution on some of the plot points a little meh. There was no huge mystery to unravel, but enough characters acted as if there were and so I wish there’d been more of a wrap up for them.
I didn’t entirely care about all of the plotlines. Specifically June’s plotline wasn’t very engaging. Despite its dramatic ending (no spoilers!) the most compelling story was Virginia’s by a long while. The emotional moments were often a letdown for me, with either not enough setup or honestly too much.
This book was a short, sweet, and emotional read that perfectly fits the mood of wanting something simple but feel good especially during the summer where a commitment to a book feels like a lot sometimes. It’s not a book I would necessarily say is a must read, but it’s a good choice for a vacation read for sure. The presence of LGBT+ characters that were portrayed kindly was a pleasant surprise, and actually functions well in the story. The characters are all pretty harmless and their stories easy to follow and easy to root for. If you’ve had this one your TBR for a while, I’d recommend keeping it in your back pocket for breaking a reading slump or solving a certain craving.