Book Review: Confederates Don't Wear Couture
Published By: Graphia
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Page Count: 240
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
I really enjoyed Libby's romp through colonial history in Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, but I LOVED her road trip through the South as she and Dev followed Civil War reenactors on their living history adventure. Dev and Libby plan to sell their fashion wares to all the women along the way who want to look their best for their soldiers.
I've always been interested in studying the antebellum and Civil War eras so perhaps my fondness stems from the historical pieces of this novel. I knew I was going to love this one when it opens with Libby scouring the digital archives at UNC; she is mesmerized by the diary of Sarah Morgan Dawson. I've read Dawson's diary and also used to spend my free time scouring the digital archives. Yes, for me fun is spending time reading and analyzing primary sources. That's what makes Libby a character I adore and Stephanie Kate Strohm's novels such fun reads for me.
Strohm has done more than just craft an immensely entertaining and hilarious story; she has done a tremendous amount of research to make sure the history is correct and that she accurately portrays the experiences of those involved in Civil War reenactments. These are the hardcore history nerds who aren't afraid to don scratchy wool uniforms in sweltering heat. Authenticity is crucial. I also loved seeing places that are familiar and dear to my heart crop up as settings. The scenes at Boone Hall were some of my favorites and were so easy to visualize. That plantation holds many history nerd moments from my past.
In addition to the historical elements, Strohm's writing is stronger. The dialog was spot on and I found the pacing to be perfect. This was the exact sort of novel I needed to help combat a super stressful work week. It's impossible to read this story without cracking up. The banter between Libby and Dev is one of my favorite aspects of Strohm's books and this one delivers in spades.
Furthermore, I loved watching Libby grow as a character. She's young and naive in the first book, but you can really see her entering a new phase of her life in this one. She's matured and mellowed. Her signature style and spirit are still present, but she seems more focused this time around. That could be in part due to her relationship with Garrett. I won't go into details about what happens between these two, but it's not all smooth sailing and rainbows. Prepare yourself for some rough waters.
I also enjoyed the addition of some new characters. Beau is a particular favorite of mine. His sweet southern charm oozes off the page. Beau is certainly swoon worthy and would make an excellent book boyfriend. I highly recommend you get to know him this summer. Southern charm aside I love that he is a history nerd. That's always a plus in my book.
With its historical tidbits, hilarious conversations, and conflict, this is one of my summer must reads and a 2013 favorite. Strohm has promised lumberjacks in her next book. I can only say: BRING IT ON.
One Last Gripe: There were moments when I really disliked Garrett. That was an uncomfortable feeling for me.
My Favorite Things About The Book: Libby's outfits, the history, and the humor
First Sentence: "Ah! Mr. Yankee!" I read.
Favorite Character: Libby
Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one.
Libby's best friend and fabulous fashion designer, Dev, hatches a plan to jet down South and hawk his period gowns to the wives and girlfriends of Civil War re-enactors. With a pang, Libby abandons her plan to visit her boyfriend, Garrett, in Boston and jumps at the chance to help run "Confederate Couture," and let her inner history nerd loose in a 19th century playground. But Libby and Dev aren't whistling Dixie for long. Between the constant travel from battle ground to dusty battle ground (with no Starbucks in sight, mind you), blistering heat, and a violent ghost set on romantic revenge, they quickly realize Alabama's no sweet home. And the boys. . . well, let's just say Libby's got the North and the South fighting for her attention. Confederates Don't Wear Couture is another hilarious, historical romp from Stephanie Kate Strohm!