The Wedding Dress
By Rachel Hauck
Thomas Nelson, 2012
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.
Rachel Hauck seamlessly blends three vintage tales of love with Charlotte and Tim’s modern-day love story, hiding the surprise of why the gown was destined to belong to Charlotte until the very end.
I enjoyed learning about the bridal business from an insider’s perspective: the competition in the business, the designers, and watching an owner who loves brides trying to fulfill her customer’s special dreams, not simply make a profit. Of course what book worth its salt leaves out the evil character? In this case a soon-to-be sister-in-law adds the much-needed someone-to-hate factor. The author also displays the beauty of multi-generational friendships showing the interaction between a young energetic go-getter and the grace of someone who has lived many years.
Reviewing this book brings up a major drawback of Christian romances – they too often tend to be shallow. I enjoy easy, feel-good chick books, but I do not enjoy ones in which problems are ignored or treated trivially. Everyone grows through hard times and when Christian romances present a problem then immediately solve it by a prayer, they trivialize the struggle we go through to surrender our desires to God’s will.
One way this book rises above the banal is captured in Tim’s consuming passion for racing bikes. He doesn’t recognize the effect his hobby has on him and his relationship with Charlotte until he relinquishes it. Only when contemplating the empty space it leaves does he realize God had known all along that it had blinded him to better choices.
My rating system:
What makes an excellent romance story in my opinion is a writer who creates people you can relate to, emotion without cloying sentiment, and a story line that is strong and believable. Rachel Hauck did an exceptional job of skillfully weaving Christian principles with real life people without sermonizing.
I would rate this book: Definitely Read