Title: The House of Serendipity
Author: Lucy Ivison
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: July 6, 2021
Fans of Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy series and budding fashionistas everywhere will love this charming, delightful middle-grade novel about two girls with a talent for dressmaking set in 1920s London.
As Myrtle Mathers and Sylvia Cartwright know, the perfect dress can change everything. When Myrtle leaves her family’s tailoring shop to work as a lady’s maid in the grand home of the aristocratic Cartwright family, she thinks her days of sketching and stitching are over for good. That is until the spirited Sylvia Cartwright runs into a big problem–her older sister Delphine’s debutante ball is about to be ruined by a truly horrendous dress. Desperate, Sylvia calls on Myrtle to help her save the night, and a serendipitous partnership begins.
Their design for Delphine catches the eyes of all of London’s debutantes, including the prominent Agapantha Portland-Prince, who has the whole city buzzing about what she will wear to her extravagant ball. So when she practically begs Myrtle and Sylvia to dress her, the two girls make a plan: create something special for Agapantha without revealing their true identities. If the Cartwrights find out what Myrtle and Sylvia are up to, it could spell disaster for the girls’ futures.
But as it turns out, Agapantha is looking for more than just a gorgeous outfit–she needs a disguise that will help her escape high-society life forever. And for Myrtle and Sylvia, what starts out as a plan to prove their design prowess soon becomes a secret mission to defy expectations.
In this fabulous, fantastical adventure through 1920s London, author Lucy Ivison introduces a delightful new series about the magic of friendship, fashion, and being yourself.
1920s, London: When Myrtle’s mother has to sell their tailoring shop, Myrtle is sent to be a lady’s maid at the home of the Cartwright family. There, she meets Sylvia, the young daughter of the house. Sylvia’s older sister is supposed to make her debut to society but she hates the dress that was made for her. Sylvia enlists Myrtle’s help to remake the dress so her sister likes it. When that dress is a hit in society, others want the be dressed by the same designer. Sylvia’s friend Lady Agapantha hires them to create a special look for her debut and to help her form a new identity to follow her dream. This project is almost too big for Sylvia and Myrtle, and can either make or break their designing partnership.
This story reminded me of Downton Abbey, but for a middle grade audience. Myrtle worked as a lady’s maid but she became friends with Lady Sylvia. The other workers in the palace had to remind Myrtle that she shouldn’t be too friendly with the family of the house because she was there to work for them. However, Sylvia was able to persuade Myrtle to help her with designing clothes. I kept imagining Sylvia and Myrtle as Lady Mary and Anna from Downton Abbey, if they were young girls who became friends in unlikely circumstances.
One of my favourite parts of this book was the sketches of the outfits. Since this story had so many descriptive outfits created by Myrtle and Sylvia, it was nice to see what they would have looked like. This was a great addition to this fashion themed story.
The House of Serendipity is a fun middle grade novel!
Thank you Razorbill for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery by Julia Golding
The Runaway Girls by Jacqueline Wilson
Have you read The House of Serendipity? What did you think of it?