Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Magic Indeed!

My Man, the children, and I traveled for about 8 hours on the day after Christmas. I had been secretly looking forward to the long drive because of a book I'd been sent to read for review for BlogHer Book Club. I had stolen moments throughout the month of December between baking cookies and wrapping packages to dive eagerly into this book which is entitled The Magic Room. I was eager to have uninterrupted car time in which to finish this well written book.

The book, in the words of its author Jeffrey Zaslow is, "not exactly about weddings, and not exactly about a bridal shop, and not exactly about bridal gowns, its a book about the love we all share with our daughters."

The Magic Room tells the true story of Becker's Bridal Shop, located in the very small town of Fowler, Michigan. Becker's has been owned by three generations of Becker women each operating the store in her own fashion and in her own strengths.

The bridal shop's owners are not the entire story however, as Mr. Zaslow expertly weaves the stories of six brides-to-be as they journey toward the altar with the story of the bridal shop and it's cast of relatable characters. He says that he started each bride's story as she entered the Magic Room and then worked backwards out into her life to tell her story.

Zaslow lays out his purpose for writing this book early in the pages of the introduction saying,
...I came here not just to write about wedding gowns and what they represent. I also wanted to understand the women wearing them, their fears and yearnings. 
I resolved to pay less attention to the brides I met whose motives seemed somewhat frivolous, the one more focused on their dresses than their upcoming marriages. Instead, I wanted to find brides and their families whose paths were not necessarily easy, but who have given great thought to the love that guides and connects them.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and may or may not have been a teensy bit tearful at the end. The book is not at all a sad one, but one of hope and of love. It was also full of interesting statistics about the state of marriage in the world at one point relating that "The annual number of weddings in America, which peaked in 1984 at 2.48 million, has declined every year since then." Also, "For women, the average age of first marriage has risen to twenty-six years old from twenty-one in 1970. For men, it has risen to twenty-eight from twenty-three."

I also loved, loved, loved the way the author handled each bride's story with a special dose of respect and tenderness toward the bride and her family, which he gained perhaps from his own experiences as the father of three daughters. Especially touching was the way Zaslow treated the story Shelley, the current owner of Becker's and her family.

I feel as if I could travel to Fowler, Michigan, enter Becker's Bridal and its Magic Room (the room where brides-to-be are invited to enter when they feel they've found THE DRESS and gaze at themselves in the flattering lighting in a vast array of mirrors) and feel like I knew well, its inhabitants.

The Magic Room is one of those books that will entertain, inform, and enlighten while at the same time leave a mark on your heart. It caused me to care about the brides, their families, and about the Becker's Bridal family in a way that I'd not expected as I opened the pages to begin my journey into The Magic Room. If you'd like to see a few pictures of this beautiful bridal shop, click here to go to Becker's Bridal website.

You may be familiar with author, Jeffrey Zaslow's name as the coauthor of the world wide #1 best selling book, The Last Lecture written with Randy Pausch. He is also the author of The Girls From Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship, which I plan to read soon!

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book in partial exchange for review for BlogHer. My opinions, however, are entirely my usual!

Join me later this week at BlogHer for more discussions about this fabulous book!


Becky said...

Wonderful review. Can't wait to read the book!

Anonymous said...

oohh! Sounds like one I'd like to read, too!

Gretchen said...

Do you kow this book went so well with "What He Must Be" that we've been discussing in class. One of the brides in the book and her three sisters were Christians and approached their marriages in much the same way I hope my girls will. The book treated the Christian worldview with respect which I found encouraging !! Another bride and her family were atheists and the differences were stark between the two stories as a result.

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