The Wedding Dress by Virginia Ellis

Reviewed by Joan Badie 

This light-hearted, dreamy story revolves around three sisters concentrating on making a wedding gown for the youngest girl who longs to marry but has no prospects.  The setting is post Civil War at a time of few surviving men.  Yet the sisters, to detach from a destitute, forbidding present and future, focus on plans for the youngest to attain a normal life.  Their parents are both gone; the two eldest are supposedly widows as a result of the war’s devastation.

Little gifts and wise purchases provide the material, lace, buttons and thread for the dress.  The sisters support one another, care for each other and in that is their strength and success.  The main character, the middle sister, Julia, sees visions of the war dead and believes in her dreams, wondering of the meaning and planning for the future.  I LOVE this character.  She is so real, warm, emotional and describes the others through her eyes.  Virginia Ellis might have patterned her on her own self. The eldest, Victoria, is loyal, sturdy and supportive.  Clare, the youngest, sensitive and beautiful, is a lover of animals, especially horses. She actually sings to a mule to inspire it to move ahead.

The historical background is aptly described including the farm, the woods, game and domestic animals.  It’s clear how very hard it is to survive on land after the Civil War.  Losses of others scare the girls deeply.  Stories of battles are recounted by a young officer visiting the middle sister with news of the demise of her late husband and the returning, now blind husband of the oldest sister, Victoria.  The social customs are real to the reader as they are portrayed in visits of the reverend, the soldiers and others.

Julia bravely tries to convince the young officer to marry her youngest sister, only to find (to Clare’s relief and delight) he is interested in her. The ending is charming and wholesome.  This book is a delight to read.

2 Responses to “The Wedding Dress by Virginia Ellis”

  1. Ellese Chantel bridal and prom wear design specialist Says:

    This post reminds me so much of a TV film i saw where a wedding dress is passed around friends and strangers, being altered and transformed until one day it goes full circle and ends up back where it started. good film.

  2. cwood Says:

    Could it be “The Wedding Dress” from 2001?