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Q&A with Jennifer Dupee, Author of The Little French Bridal Shop

Q&A with Jennifer Dupee, Author of The Little French Bridal Shop

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Jennifer Dupee is the author of The Little French Bridal Shop.

Jennifer is a graduate of Brown University, where she studied under published authors Meredith Steinbach and Carole Maso, and 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. Her first published novel is The Little French Bridal Shop, and she is currently at work on her next novel.

Here’s the synopsis:

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 set 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.

Let’s get to know Jennifer as she talks favorite novels, writing inspirations, her TBR and much more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

Ann Patchett, Commonwealth
Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth
Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife
Andrew Sean Greer, The Story of a Marriage

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

For as long as I can remember! My kindergarten report card read “Jennifer doesn’t want to talk to anyone. She just wants to sit in the corner and read.”  My love of writing grew from there. Writing is something planted deep in my psyche and a pleasure/challenge to which I will always return.

What inspired you to write The Little French Bridal Shop?

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—I shopped for my junior prom dress there—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. 

What is your writing process like?

I tend to let the story gestate for a long time before I put too much on paper. During this gestation phase, I often record a lot of words, images, phrases, but I don’t start crafting sentences until I’ve really ruminated on it for quite a while. I also love to write longhand in the beginning. I’m very careful not to share my work too early. I feel it’s really important to have my hooks into the book and have at least some idea of where I’m going before I share. Other creative types, however well-meaning (and they are very well-meaning), tend to inject their own sensibilities and viewpoints into a book if it hasn’t set a bit yet and then the writer can lose an organic sense of the story. That said, I have a wonderful writing group. Many of their suggestions have been instrumental in making my work stronger and better.

What do you hope are some of the key takeaways from the novel?

Though the book tackles some difficult subjects, it’s ultimately a very hopeful book. I think readers will come away from it with a sense of renewal and a promise that when times are hard, we can find relief in facing our vulnerabilities and connecting with those we love. 

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet
Tracey Garvis Graves, The Girl He Used to Know
V.E.Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Click here to order The Little French Bridal Shop on Amazon.