Review

PUBLICATION DATE: APRIL 3, 2012

C

harlotte Malone, the owner of an upscale bridal boutique in Birmingham, Alabama, is great at finding the perfect dress for the many brides that come to her shop. She doesn’t, however, seem to be able to find a dress for her own fast-approaching wedding.

When she seemingly stumbles upon a vintage wedding dress in an old trunk that she bought at an estate sale, Charlotte sets out (though somewhat reluctantly) to find out the gown’s history. Emily in 1912, Mary Grace in 1939, and Hillary in 1968 – three women with their own stories of life and love.

What Charlotte doesn’t expect to find is the truth about her heritage – and the love that has been there all along.

The premise of this book – a wedding dress worn by four different women over 100 years – to me was fascinating. I was looking forward to diving into the four time periods represented and really getting to know the stories behind the brides and this dress that they shared.

However, the actual story did not do this. Maybe my interpretation of the description on the book was just off – I thought each bride’s story would be told. They were, but it just wasn’t as descriptive and balanced as I was expecting.

The story basically focuses on Charlotte, the one who finds the dress in present-day, and Emily, the first one to wear the dress in 1912. The reader does discover the stories behind the two other women who wore the dress on their wedding day, but their stories are so brief that I felt as if I didn’t really know them at all.

I did like the story that was told about Emily in 1912, even though I felt the character of Emily was somewhat confusing. Emily was painted as this strong, intelligent woman who spoke her mind and had compassion for those around her. This was what I really liked about her character and her story. However, whenever her fiancé, Phillip, entered the picture, she would swoon and get caught up in his smooth charm and supple words. I just didn’t think that a smart woman like Emily would be completely fooled over and over by a guy like that. But, like I said, her story, especially how the dress was made, was my favorite part of the book, despite her fickle character.

Another thing that I wasn’t quite expecting in this novel was that there was a mystical element to it. Not a mystery, or glimpses of the Divine, but supernatural, magical events. For one thing, the dress fit each of these women perfectly without the need for alterations (think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants). That detail in and of itself would be fine. But there is a whole subplot revolving how the dress is perfectly preserved and seems to create its own light. Plus there is a strange man in purple who ‘guides’ both Emily and Charlotte to the dress, (100 years apart) which just seemed wacky to me.

I have no problem with books that have supernatural things in them. Some of my favorite books are considered fantasy. But it seemed as if this book couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. The journey Charlotte takes to find her heritage and a family was very real. The other brides’ stories about their own journeys were also based in reality. Throwing in the mystical aspect and the peculiar man just didn’t seem to fit to me.

I really wanted to like this book, but the more I read, the more I just didn’t really like it. It actually makes me sad to have to give it only 2 ½ stars.

I’ve read many good reviews of this book over the last few days, so maybe this was just not my type of book. If I had gone into it differently at the beginning, maybe I would have enjoyed it more – I think the back of the book description didn’t give me a good picture of what the book was about.

If you read this book, please let me know what you think, because I really feel as if I missed something with this one!