The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck opens with Charlotte Malone trying to find some solitude to think and pray about her current relationship, but she finds herself at an auction instead, one that she had not realized would be taking place at the location she was visiting. As she tries to depart, her attention is arrested by an old trunk with the lock welded shut. She surprises herself by bidding on it in the first place and then bidding much more than she wanted to, but she ends up winning the bid.
Her fiance is not at all pleased that she spent so much money, but as he later helps her get the trunk open, she finds a wedding dress in it. The dress is supposedly about a hundred years old but looks new and has never been altered. Charlotte is intrigued by the dress and starts to search for the dress’s history. She is also the owner of a contemporary bridal shop and longs to find the perfect bride for this special dress.
The story moves back and forth primarily between Charlotte’s perspective and Emily’s, the first owner of the dress, as we learn more of their situations and relationships. Charlotte doesn’t find out about Emily’s life until much later, but in the process she finds two other wearers of the dress and gets to know them and their history.
It seems the dress only gets passed along to very special brides in unique ways, and each bride in this case had some need, something to learn, some way in which to grow that the dress, or rather the circumstances involving the dress, helped along.
There is a bit of fairly tale-ish supernaturalness (though the book itself is not told in the style of a fairy tale) with a mysterious man in purple who visits at least two of the brides and facilitates their acquiring the dress. Or perhaps he is supposed to be more allegorical: later in the book we’re told what the wedding dress represents (though I find the analogy of what it represents breaks down in light of Charlotte’s having paid a great sum for it, whereas what it represents is free. Although, on the other hand, Charlotte paid for the trunk, not knowing the dress was in it, so I guess the dress was indeed free in a way)…but I can’t say more without spoiling the storyline).
Overall I liked the premise, the journey of each bride, and how the story ended up.
But there were elements that just irritated me or that I found just strange (like a certain scent associated with Charlotte’s coming to Christ and certain encounters afterward). It may just be me – the reviews on Amazon are mostly good. I’ve been wrestling with myself about whether to go into them and decided to do so, but I don’t want to come across as hypercritical or sound like I am just “tearing into” the author. That’s not my tone, but I figure if these bothered me they might bother someone else, too, and that might be helpful for writers to know. 🙂 So here they are:
Sentences like, “The feathery kiss of destiny sent a shiver over her soul as the breeze rushing over the mountaintop tapped her legs.” I don’t even know how to explain why that makes me cringe.
Grown women talking baby talk to each other: “Don’t deny me my one widdle talent.” Shudder. Thankfully I think there is only that one instance.
Charlotte’s talking to the dress. “This is a TV, dress. Have you ever seen TV before?” Really?
Emily’s chastising a potential suitor one minute about his love for baseball (“Imagine, grown men running around all day in the dirt, chasing a small white ball”), then chastising him again when he tells her he has quit the game to be near her (“I can’t believe you’re quitting the game you love. I declare it makes me almost not respect you.”) I suppose that may be there to show her immaturity at that point?
“Mary Grace popped the air with her lightly-fisted hand. A don’t-you-just-know gesture.” I have no idea what a don’t-you-just-know gesture is supposed to look like. Someone popping a fisted hand in the air, I guess.
“The wind raced through the trees. Her thoughts raced through her mind.” OK. I get the picture. But how about something like, “Thoughts raced through her mind as fast as the wind raced through the trees.”
Ms. Hauck has published several successful books, whereas I have published exactly zero, so obviously she knows what she is doing and I am not speaking from the point of an expert. I’m “just your average reader” expressing an opinion. 🙂 Perhaps I was a little more sensitive with this reading, because on the day I started it I had just insisted to Carrie, who doesn’t like Christian fiction, that not all of it is poorly written. 🙂 And I would not say this is poorly written – as I said, there were just these few instances that rubbed me the wrong way.
I went back and forth listening to this book via audiobook and reading the Kindle version – both were on sale at the time for a low price, and the “Whispersync” system between Amazon and Audible allows one to pick up in one version where one left off in the other. That worked quite well. Usually an audiobook enhances a story for me, but I didn’t like this one (sorry to sound so grumpy today! You know I am not usually when talking about books.) The narration wasn’t distinct enough for me to be able to tell who was talking during the dialogues.
But, as I said, I liked the overall story. Many people have posted great reviews and loved the book, and you might, too.