The Grand Design: A Novel of Dorothy Draper

Written by Joy Callaway
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

Dorothy Draper, the first woman in America to open her own interior design company in 1925, has been granted the most lucrative contract of the post-WWII era: to renovate the fabulous Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

The novel begins as Dorothy looks back on her youthful association with The Greenbrier when, as a debutante, she spent summers there with her family. Her memories contain vibrant images of the landscape of The Greenbrier and the young man she fell in love with there. In her task to renovate and redecorate the resort, Dorothy allows her memories to help her create lush designs for new wall coverings, upholstery, and furniture arrangements—all down to even the smallest detail to restore The Greenbrier to its former glory.

As the reader is carried through the design process, we also learn how the young love affair affected Dorothy Draper for the rest of her life. The story is a thoroughly enjoyable read with the characters, including The Greenbrier, coming vividly to life. It is well-paced, with twists and turns in the plot and notable guests like President Taft woven into the storyline to anchor the reader in history. Dramatic details make readers believe they can almost smell the rhododendron and magnolias.