• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 15, 2015)
In this riveting, poignant memoir of three generations of women and the white dresses that adorned them—television producer Mary Pflum Peterson recounts a journey through loss and redemption, and her battle to rescue her mother, a former nun, from compulsive hoarding.
As a successful television journalist at Good Morning America, Mary Pflum is known as a polished and highly organized producer. It’s a persona at odds with her tortured childhood, where she watched her emotionally vulnerable mother fill their house with teetering piles of assorted “treasures.” But one thing has always united mother and daughter—their love of white dresses. From the dress worn by Mary’s mother when she became a nun and married Jesus, to the wedding gown she donned years later, to the special nightshirts she gifted Mary after the birth of her children, to graduation dresses and christening gowns, these white dresses embodied hope and new beginnings.
After her mother’s sudden death in 2010, Mary digs deep to understand the events that led to Anne’s unraveling. At twenty-one, Anne entered a convent, committed to a life of prayer and helping others. But lengthy periods of enforced fasting, isolation from her beloved students, and constant humiliation eventually drove her to flee the convent almost a decade later. Hoping to find new purpose as a wife and mother, Anne instead married an abusive, closeted gay man—their eventual divorce another sign of her failure.
Anne retreats into chaos. By the time Mary is ten, their house is cluttered with broken appliances and stacks of unopened mail. Anne promises but fails to clean up for Mary’s high school graduation party, where Mary is being honored as her school’s valedictorian, causing her perfectionist daughter’s fear and shame to grow in tandem with the heaps upon heaps of junk. In spite of everything, their bond endures. Through the white dresses, pivotal events in their lives are celebrated, even as Mary tries in vain to save Anne from herself.
Unflinchingly honest, insightful, and compelling, White Dresses is a beautiful, powerful story—and a reminder of the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters.
About Mary Pflum Peterson
Mary Pflum Peterson is a veteran multi-Emmy-Award winning producer at Good Morning America, the nation’s number one morning news show. Her work at GMA has taken her to papal funerals in Rome, to the ravaged remains of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to the royal wedding in London and to numerous Oscar ceremonies in between. Prior to joining GMA, Pflum Peterson was a producer and reporter for CNN, where, from her post in Istanbul, she traveled in and out of numerous warzones, including Afghanistan. Today, her warzone of choice is Manhattan’s Upper West Side where she resides with her husband, Dean, and their four young children, ages 1 to 7.
Mary’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, August 18th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, August 19th: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, August 20th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Friday, August 21st: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Tuesday, August 25th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, August 26th: BookNAround
Friday, August 28th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, September 2nd: Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, September 3rd: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Wednesday, September 9th: The East Village