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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: The Magic Room

"After all there is something about a wedding-gown prettier than in any other gown in the world."
~Douglas William Jerrold

When I agreed to review this book, I ended up with some serious second thoughts. A book about weddings- and wedding dresses? I dislike both. I myself have only stepped inside a bridal shoop 2 times, with my sister-in-law then my sister, looking for dresses- for them! I myself spent $100 to alter my mother's champagne-colored dress, designed and sewn by my grandmother. And had that not been an option, I would have worn something non-traditional. I've just never been able to wrap my mind around spending a wicked amount of money on a garment to be worn one single day.

I'm too pragmatic.

But The Magic Room isn't really about wedding dresses. It's really a commentary on marriage in America today. It's a bittersweet story. And I wasn't sure any author in the world could paint a picture of hope out of the sad colors of marriage today. But Zaslow did it.

He documents a historical bridal shop and 8 brides who come to buy their dresses there. I was worried that things would get hokey as the book progressed, but on the contrary, Zaslow's storytelling became more natural and easy as the different stories unfolded side-by-side.

The most striking element of Zaslow's writing, for me, is his reverence and respect for his subjects. He tells the stories of atheists, Jews, Catholics, Baptists. That dreadful postmodern scoffing undertone is absent as he describes the beliefs of the different families.

I cried multiple times reading this book. I thought of myself and my own wedding, but more than that, I thought of my daughter. The Magic Room is far from a parenting how-to book, yet I feel it made me a better mother, just pondering the many situations in it, realizing how soon my own precious daughterr will be facing them.

In the end, The Magic Room was heartbreaking and hopeful, toughing and inspiring. I can't think of a teenage girl, a mother or father of a daughter, or anyone whose ever rolled their eyes at a wedding, who wouldn't enjoy it.

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"A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short." ~Andre Maurois

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