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4.2 out of 5 stars44
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 10 October 2012
When Julia Schuster returned from her travels abroad after university, the last thing she expected to find is that her boyfriend Ed had hooked up with her best friend Lainey whilst she was away and that they were now engaged. But to make matters worse they hope that she will forgive them and have invited her to the wedding to share in their special day.

This sets Julia off on a trail of self-destruction much to the disapproval of her family; she's either moping alone in the family home with a bottle of wine for company or out on the town every night meaning that she's constantly hungover and late for work. When she's let go from her job her grandmother Bird forces her to come and work in the Shoestring, the family's second hand designer clothes shop, alongside her sister Pandora but she's got to stop feeling sorry for herself and deal with her issues.

Whilst working in the shop she comes across the perfect dress to wear to Ed and Lainey's wedding, a wedding her family don't think she should go to, but the problem is that she cannot afford it but seeing how much Julia loves it Pandora agrees to put it aside for her for a while. Julia just needs to find a way to come up with the money to buy the dress but when another customer Arietty also falls in love with the dress and wants it for her school reunion, Julia is in danger of losing the perfect wedding outfit.

However, both Julia and Arietty realise that neither can afford the dress on their own which is when a suggestion is made to set up The Shoestring Club and share the dress... they just need to find another couple of like minded women to help buy the dress. Will they get to wear their dream dress to their events?

This book had a little bit of everything, love, sadness, friendships, humour as well as a wonderful mix of characters, my favourite of which was Bird, Julia's grandmother, the matriarch of the family who wants the best for her family but is not afraid to play the tough love act when needed... It's essentially a story about picking yourself and starting life all over again with the help of family and friends.

I'm already looking forward to reading Sarah's next book due out next year, The Memory Box, which is Pandora Schuster's story.
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At first glance, and after reading the blurb on the back of the book, it would be fair to assume that The Shoestring Club is going to be a light read, easy and maybe a bit fluffy. Julia Schuster (Jules to her friends) is the lead character of the story. Life is not going so well for Jules, she has no money, her job bores her, her sister bosses her around and her boyfriend Ed has announced his engagement to her (ex) best friend Lainy.
When a beautiful designer dress arrives at Shoestring; her sister's designer dress swap-shop, Julies knows that she just has to wear it to the wedding. Only that dress will get her through the day, and show everyone that can cope. The dress costs 1200 Euro - and Jules is broke. Enter Arietty; elephant keeper at Dublin Zoo - she needs a 'knock em dead' outfit too, so that she can attend her school reunion and show the bullies that she's done OK. Jules and Arietty devise a plan - they will time-share the dress, they just need two more members of the club and the dress will be theirs
The Shoestring Club is a multi-layered story, and although at first Jules seems to be quite a shallow person, her main interests being clothes and how much she can drink, the reader soon realises that under that bright exterior is a sad, vulnerable girl. This is the real beauty of this book, one moment I was smiling, or sighing and the next I was gulping back the tears. The dress is the cover story, the real story is gently unfolded as Jules stumbles through life from one crisis to another - exposing her vulnerabilities, her sadness and most of all her strength of character.

The supporting cast of characters are excellently created - some adorable, some hateful, but all of them truly believable, each adding to the novel in their own special way.

I enjoyed every page of The Shoestring Club, it's warm and funny, and sad and uplifting - all at the same time.
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on 1 October 2012
I really enjoyed reading this book. A story of a broken-hearted girl who has lost her way in life and is outwardly coping, but inwardly floundering. With the help of her sister, grandmother, some strangers who become friends and an amazing dress she finally confronts her issues to resolve her inner conflict and anger. Funny, witty and an endearing look at friendships and family is also explores difficult issues and takes you on Jules' journey with sensitivity and feeling. Very reminiscent to the style of Maeve Binchy..I can't wait for the second book! When, hopefully, we will discover more about the mystery fourth person to timeshare the dress!
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on 16 March 2013
Jules has never really grown up, until she returns from travelling in New Zealand and finds her on and off boyfriend Ed has been sleeping with her best friend and the next thing she knows they are engaged. Staying in Dublin, Jules ends up working in the shop owned by her eccentric grandmother "Bird" and run by her rather straight laced big sister Pandora. Working there she finds the perfect dress to wear to Ed's wedding.... Except she is totally broke. The story deals wonderfully with Jules exorcism of her low life boyfriend, the plan to save the store and the burden of her mothers death from cancer when she was nine. The characters are witty and likeable, or hate able and there are moments written with poignancy which literally brought a tear to my eye
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on 17 January 2013
This book just didn't grab me, it took ages to "get into" and I disliked all the characters initially except for Greg......long suffering dad still grieving for his wife, and Iris.......a little sweetie, intelligent and well mannered to boot.
None of the characters, with the exception of Jules had any real depth to them and I felt I really didn't t know them at all. The heroine of the tale, Jules, was difficult to like, she needed to grow up, take responsibility for her actions and stop drinking! I wanted to give her a shake!! I have to admit, I had more sympathy with the character towards the end of the book when she confronted her demons.
I felt I knew very little about Pandora and there seemed to be no consistency to her behaviour, one minute she was the loving sister and the next she was berating Jules and not supporting her but was quite happy to leave Iris with her and seemed to treat her like a free babysitter. I certainly knew nothing about Pandora as a mother and there was more interaction written between Jules and Iris than there was between Pandora and her daughter.
The storyline, the sharing of a dress, got a bit lost amongst everything else that was going on and again, lacked any sort of depth.
Now for the good news......... I really enjoyed the last 25% of this book and was just sorry it took so long to reach this stage. Jules behaviour all started to make sense and she was able to bring some sort of solace to Greg which was nice.
I didn't read the taster chapters of the follow up book, The Memory Box, but I will probably read the book when it becomes available on Kindle as it would be nice to learn more about the character of Pandora and it may touch on what happened to Jules after the conclusion of The Shoestring Club.
I would give the first 3/4 of this book 2 stars and the remainder 4 stars, so 3 it is!
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on 17 December 2012
After reading around 20% of the book,I wasn't sure it was for me,not usually into chick lit and seemed so,after this point it got better,and better to the point where I couldn't put it on hold.I needed to know where this story went,and it is more than just about time sharing an expensive dress,read it,you will not be disappointed.
Looking forward to more from this author.
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on 29 January 2013
I have just finished reading this book today, and I must say I am pleased I decided to buy this; the main character is called Julia Schuster, and is of a similar age to myself so I found her extremely relatable. She falls in love with a particular designer dress, but can't afford it; however, through a various series of events, ends up sharing it with three other people and making new friends in the process.
It deals with some quite hard-hitting issues, such as alcoholism and death, but they were handled really well, and near the end, you do finally get to the bottom of why Julia is such a troubled character. She has her own fair share of troubles & problems, but doesn't come across as whiny, or constantly seeking attention. She is a character who can hold her own, but just like everyone else, has a support network of family & friends who are there to pick her up when she is down.
I loved this book; I couldn't put my Kindle down and I wanted to keep reading until the end; I really am looking forward to more from this author.
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on 10 December 2012
Bought this as 99p Kindle Daily deal expecting amusing chick lit but found a great story about life, love and family written with humour. The characters are engaging and make you want to know what happens next so I was pleased to see there is a sequel. Thank you to Kindle Daily Deal for introducing me to another great author.
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2013
This was a great story with lots of good characters and a main character that you wanted to help sort out the messes she gets herself into. The story was a bit of a fantasy but why not especially when I read this book the weather was terrible and you needed something to read to cheer yourself up along with the wine and the chocolate. It was nice how everyone had a reason to use the dress and how they got on. You felt for everyone of them and how everyone helped one another out. This was not a great thriller but a feel good story that you need to read every now and then to make you feel that you are not the only one that has problems. I loved book and have never read any others written by this author but will do so in future. Go one grab the wine, the suntan lotion and get out there for a good summer read that you will enjoy.
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on 22 January 2013
Loved loved loved this. Easy to read and has all the ups and downs needed for me to be unable to put it down. Do excuse me...I'm off to but The Memory Box now. HAPPY READING
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