Saturday, April 6, 2013

Review: The Wedding Dress

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck is a mesmerizing tale of love lost and found, a charming blend of contemporary and historical, realism and allegory.  This sweet romance is set in Birmingham, Alabama and has a delightful southern feel as it explores the lives of four women connected by the same "magical" wedding dress.

Publisher's description:

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.

My thoughts

I enjoyed The Wedding Dress very much, often finding it hard to put down.  The two storylines of Charlotte and Emily, set 100 years apart, kept me eagerly turning the pages. And while Charlotte and Emily's stories get the most emphasis, those of Mary Grace and Hillary are just as moving and are an integral part of the story. This story also has more depth than a lot of inspirational romances, with its themes of racial tension in the south and the Viet Nam War.

I enjoy southern fiction and thought Rachel did a very good job of creating a southern feel with the Birmingham setting.  One of the characters from the 1912 era played baseball for a few months, and a team called the "Atlanta Crackers" is mentioned.  They were a popular team during the 1950s also, and I remember attending some of their games as a child.
The term allegory is defined as "a work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual meaning."  While I wouldn't describe The Wedding Dress as an allegory exactly, both the wedding gown made for Emily in 1912 and the "purple man" character definitely had deeper spiritual meanings. In the author's note at the end, Rachel writes, "I began to see the wedding dress as a symbol for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It never wears out. It fits everyone who tries it on. It doesn't need to be altered. And it's always in style."

I would like to share a portion of Rachel's thoughts that I found online, as they give good background and insight into The Wedding Dress:

     "The story is about lives being connected. How one life truly impacts another. One act of kindness has rewards for decades or generation. We may feel left out, alone, abandoned, but God is with us. Our unseen heritage is with us. God sees our entire history.
     "Charlotte, my protagonist was related to one of the most prominent women in Birmingham history. (History according to Rachel Hauck fiction.) Emily, her great grandmother, set in motion a chain of events that would eventually lead her wedding dress to her great, no-family granddaughter. . . .
     "I’m aware that my actions today, my words, my behavior, my heart toward others does impact future generations. We are not islands. We are not isolated. What we do has ramifications.
     "In The Wedding Dress, I was able to show how those actions reverberated through time. I was also able to create a symbol of those connecting generations. I call him the purple man. I won’t say more, but to me, he kind of made the book tie up. He demonstrated that Charlotte and Emily’s were connected – not just by blood but by the Lord Himself. . . .
     "In the end, that’s what The Wedding Dress really became about: the enduring, unchanging Gospel. Like the Gospel, the wedding gown Charlotte found never wore out, never needed to be altered, fit every woman who tried it on and was always in style.
     "It was a gift pursued through racial barriers by Emily. It was gifted to Mary Grace. It was discovered by Hillary, then burned her. It brought justification and redemption to Charlotte, who in turn, brought healing to Hillary – through that exact same dress. How glorious! The Gospel is real and living, active. This is why I love stories. To show life, the beauty of His wonders, and inspire our hearts to live more gracious and holy lives."

The Wedding Dress is a story that transcends time with its themes of love, courage and redemption.  I recommend it to all who enjoy inspirational fiction.

Rachel Hauck

For more information about Rachel Hauck and her books, visit her website at


  1. Thank you for taking the time to drop by, Rachel. I really enjoyed "The Wedding Dress" and wish you the best in your future writing. I'll be watching for your books now!