Four brides. One Dress.
A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.
Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?
Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new—shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”
Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.
The Wedding Dress is another of those books I wasn’t initially sure I’d like. I loved Dining with Joy, also by Rachel Hauck, but this is so much deeper. There was also the small fact that I never had a white wedding dress (couldn’t afford it), so I wasn’t sure I could connect with Charlotte or any of the other women. Again, I am happy to be proved wrong in my presumptions.
The book opens with Charlotte visiting the Ludlow Estate in Birmingham, one of her favorite locations, in order to make some sense of her thoughts regarding her upcoming wedding. The estate is usually a peaceful oasis, but on this particular day there’s an estate sale taking place. Charlotte is drawn to the sale and soon finds herself the owner of a vintage trunk. From here the action switches between Charlotte’s investigation of the trunk and its contents, and 1912 Birmingham where Emily is caught between two men, Phillip Saltenstall and Daniel Ludlow. One is the son of a business magnate who will give her a life of luxury. The other is the son of a police officer. One is a cad, the other is a gentleman. Emily knows what is expected of her, but will she rebel? What is the right thing to do in the circumstances in which she finds herself?
The present day storyline tells us how Emily’s story ends before we visit 1912 for the final time, but a careful read of the novel gives strong hints long before the conclusion is detailed. The 1912 sections also give us a great insight into early 20th century Birmingham. This was the time when the Jim Crow laws were part of life and few whites considered the morality of such laws. When Emily seeks to do business with a black seamstress who had been born a slave, she is going against the social norms of the time. More than once she is informed that no Saltenstall does business with a colored person. What I also found interesting is that, despite the book being set in 1912, there is no mention of the Titanic tragedy within the pages. This makes me wonder if it was more of an event in the north than in the south, especially given Titanic’s destination. Instead, Emily’s focus is on women’s suffrage.
Above all, however, this is the story of how a dress survived a century in amazing condition, and was found and worn by different women from different backgrounds who each have a story to tell of tragedy and survival. The narrative of the dress has a supernatural feel to it. How else does one explain how it fits each woman with no alternation needed? The explanation is given at the very end by Thomas, the husband of one of these brides, and it makes beautiful sense.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 03 April 2012
Page Count: 352