Today, I have an exclusive author interview with Jennifer Dupee and I could not be more excited. Jennifer joins me in chatting all about her debut novel The Little French Bridal Shop!
The Little French Bridal Shop is your debut novel, congrats! I absolutely love the storyline! Tell readers who haven’t read it yet, what they can expect.
Thanks, Carly-Rae! I’m so excited to share my debut with the world. The book is set in motion when Larisa Pearl returns to her small seaside hometown upon the death of her Great Aunt Ursula. She’s just lost her job, she’s recently broken up with her boyfriend, and she’s struggling with her mother’s failing health. On a whim, she wanders into the local bridal shop and buys a dress even though she has no groom. Soon word spreads all over town that she’s getting married. Rather than dispel the rumor, she perpetuates it. Small town chaos ensues.
The storyline of Larisa’s who has everyone convinced she is getting married—minus the groom—is something I haven’t seen before in a novel. How did you come up with this plotline?
I grew up on the North Shore of Boston. My grandmother lived for many years in the seaside town of Beverly Farms. It’s a setting that is deeply ingrained in my psyche and one I drew on as I created my fictional town and embarked on the opening pages of the book. I had this vision of a regal house up on a hill, and I intuited that my main character, Larisa Pearl, had inherited the house.
But I knew there was more to the story, so I decided to send my protagonist down to the little main street in the town just to see what would happen. When I was in high school, Beverly Farms actually had a bridal shop on their main street, so it felt natural to create The Little French Bridal Shop. Larisa decides to enter the shop even though she has no groom.
She decides not to correct the shopkeeper’s assumption that Larisa is planning a wedding. By the end of the chapter, Larisa has purchased a dress. So the book began with this small deception and grew from there. With this first small deception, I knew that Larisa was hiding something larger, escaping from something. My job as the author was to figure out what it was.
In writing The Little French Bridal Shop, did you have a favorite character?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’m really fond of Aunt Ursula, the great aunt of my protagonist. Even though she is no longer alive during the action of the book, her character is omnipresent. I’m blessed in that I had many quirky and charismatic older female relatives in my life when I was growing up, and I was able to channel all of them to create the character of Aunt Ursula.
Is the small seaside hometown of Larisa’s based on a real town in Massachusetts?
Yes. I grew up on the North Shore of Boston, Massachusetts. My grandmother lived for many years in the seaside town of Beverly Farms. It’s a setting that is deeply ingrained in my psyche and one I drew on as I created my fictional town and embarked on the opening pages of the book. I also sprinkled in a bit of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, and some of Southeast Maine.
How long did it take you to craft The Little French Bridal Shop?
About 4 years.
Can we expect a sequel?
Never say never! I don’t have a sequel in the works at the moment, but it would be fun to revisit these characters and this setting again. Currently, I’m working on a new novel. It’s a first-person narration told from the perspective of a seven-year-old girl. Her mother is pregnant, and the entire family is eagerly awaiting the birth of this new baby girl. The story is set in motion when a strange man arrives at the end of the driveway and claims that the baby could be his.
Again, this is your debut novel. What was that process like for you in getting a book published?
Well, this is my first novel to be published, but the third one I’ve written. It takes time and learning! But there was something about this book that really meshed for me from the start, and it meshed with my agent, Jacques de Spoelberch, as well. Once I was in his capable hands, the process was quite smooth. We went out on submission and had some interest. I ended up having to do a round of revisions before the book was picked up by Leslie Gelbman at St. Martin’s. I have a terrific team there, and I feel very grateful for their expertise and hard work.
Before we let you go, tell us have you ever shopped in a little French bridal shop?!
I shopped for my prom dress at French Bridals in Beverly Farms, MA, when I was in high school. Unfortunately, the shop closed some time ago. If it had still existed, surely, I would have shopped for my wedding dress there!
Thank you so much for joining me, Jennifer! You can find out more about Jennifer on Book Hour. Watch her exclusive chat above. You can also find out more about The Little French Bridal Shop along with Jennifer below!
Is a lie of omission still a lie? Larisa Pearl didn’t think so, and it got her into a heap of trouble.
When Larisa Pearl returns to her small seaside hometown in Massachusetts to manage her beloved great aunt’s estate, she’s a bit of an emotional mess. She’s just lost her job and her boyfriend, and she’s struggling to cope with her mother’s failing health. When she passes by the window of The Little French Bridal Shop, a beautiful ivory satin wedding gown catches her eye…
Now, to the delight of everyone in town, Larisa is planning her wedding. She has her dress, made floral arrangements, and sets the date. The only thing missing is the groom. How did this happen? All she did was try on a dress and let her fantasy take flight. But word about her upcoming nuptials has reached the ears of Jack Merrill. As teenagers, they spent time together on her great aunt’s estate, building a friendship that could have become something more had they chosen different paths.
Lost in a web of her own lies, Larisa must first face some difficult truths, including her mother’s fragile future, before she can embrace her family, straighten out her life, and open her heart to finding love.
More about Jennifer Dupee
Jennifer Dupee is the eldest of a set of fraternal triplets, and she grew up seeking any quiet corner of the house so that she could read, write, and work on puzzles.
Her life-long passion for old houses inspired Elmhurst, the grand home featured in her debut novel, THE LITTLE FRENCH BRIDAL SHOP, which St. Martin’s Press will publish in March 2021.
She’s a keen observer of human life and writes in an imagistic and prosaic style infused with an impish sense of humor and tender moments. Her goal with her writing is to make you laugh, cry, and think a little more deeply about the world and the people around you.
Jennifer is a graduate of Brown University, where she received her honors in Creative Writing. She is an active member of the Grub Street writing community in Boston and has published in The Feminist Press. She was a semi-finalist for the 2016 James Jones First Novel Competition and a semi-finalist for the 2016 Faulkner-Wisdom competition. Jennifer lives in a historic house just outside of Boston with her family and is currently at work on her next two novels.