The next prompt was back to me and I have found that finding the book is nearly as much fun as reading it. These later prompts are reminding me that earlier picks may have fit better in these categories as well.
A book set in two different time periods – The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
1912, Emily. 1929, Mary. 1968, Hillary. Present day, Charlotte. Each bride finds themselves in the possession of a magical wedding dress made with gold silk that shines in the light, never fades and never needs altered.
Each bride has a story to tell and it is up to the newest owner, Charlotte, to find out where the dress came from and what it means. As a modern day bridal shop owner who specializes in matching each bride with the perfect dress, Charlotte is up to the task. When she begins to untangle the history of the dress she learns more about herself than she thought possible.
Charlotte is about to get married when the book begins, but she has questions: is he the right man, does she want to get married, will she fit in with his family? She feels unsettled about her own past as an orphan with no family and has been delaying her own wedding plans until the month prior to the date when she finds herself at an auction purchasing a welded shut trunk for $1,000 from a strange man dressed in purple velvet.
The book then flashes back in time to 1912 and introduces the reader to Emily, a well to do young lady torn who has sworn her hand to a man in her social circle while secretly loving another. The city she lives in is separated by race and Emily finds herself longing for a wedding dress made by an African American woman. She frequents the “black neighborhood” to have the dress handmade all the while siting for a hideous dress her mother insists on from the white seamstress in town.
Back to present day and Charlotte has broken up with her fiancee and broken into the trunk to find a 100 year old dress that glows from an inner light and looks brand new. She begins her search to find the original owner and is led first to the last owner: Hillary who helps her find Mary who tells the story of Emily.
What I found interesting about this book is that while it is a basic, easy reading feel good story with predictable turns and a tidy ending, throughout the novel it actually brings to light some deep themes. Emily, back in 1912, is a well to do white woman who is joining the suffragist movement. On top of that, she is fighting the chain gangs that work in the mines for no pay and constantly extending sentences. Then we find out that she is breaking all the social rules when she hires an african american woman to make her wedding dress and gets arrested for being seen in the wrong neighborhood. These are awfully heavy, and pretty flippantly processed, themes for the book to cover in the midst of finding the history behind a magical wedding dress.
The book is also heavily christian which was not evident from reading the excerpt I had access to. Charlotte herself is very religious and the man in purple who brings the dress to everyone and never changes throughout the century the book spans is heavily hinted at being God.
All in all it was an okay book. Easy to read although a lot of the minor themes don’t really fit into the arc of the novel. I wouldn’t really recommend it.