Review: THE WEDDING VEIL by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Also by this author: Feels Like Falling, Under the Southern Sky
Published by Gallery Books on March 29, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction, Historical Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Those who have followed my blog for a while know that I’m a big fan of Kristy Woodson Harvey’s novels. I love how she writes her characters with warmth and depth, as well as how vibrantly she brings to life the settings for each of her books. I was thrilled to learn that The Wedding Veil is actually a historical fiction novel since that’s one of my favorite genres and I couldn’t wait to see how Harvey reimagines the lives of one of the most famous families of the Gilded Age, the Vanderbilts.
In short, I loved everything about The Wedding Veil! I thought the premise of having the lives of four generations of women bound together by something as seemingly as simple as a wedding veil was just so creative and I loved watching their stories unfold and learning how it was possible that the treasured Vanderbilt heirloom veil ends up in the hands of another unrelated family altogether.
Harvey traces the journey of the veil from one family to the other through the use of dual timelines. We follow Edith Vanderbilt and her daughter Cornelia in the early 20th century, and the struggles they encountered while trying to keep their famous home, The Biltmore Estate, up and running after Mr. Vanderbilt unexpectedly passes away. I admired their strength and determination in the face of such difficult odds, including, particularly in Cornelia’s case, being forced into roles that they didn’t necessarily want and how the symbol of the wedding veil tied into all of that. I thought that Harvey did a wonderful job of telling the Vanderbilt women’s stories with great respect and compassion.
As much as I enjoyed learning more about the Vanderbilt women and the Biltmore estate, the contemporary timeline was actually the one that captivated me the most, especially since it starts out with a runaway bride who is encouraged to run away, by all people, her grandmother! I loved Julia and Grandma Babs from that opening scene and just couldn’t get enough of them. Julia does a runner because she learns her soon-to-be-husband has been cheating on her and feels like she would be tainting the treasured family wedding veil if she were to go through with the wedding. The veil and all it stands for leads Julia to go on a soul searching journey to figure out what she wants out of life, everyone else’s expectations be damned. I really liked Julia – she’s smart, spunky, and resilient, and the more we get to see Grandma Babs in action, it’s easy to see where Julia gets her spark from.
I don’t want to say anything else because I think it’s best to experience the journeys of these four extraordinary women yourself, but I will say that with all of its intricate threads woven together between past and present, The Wedding Veil is a beautifully written story that spotlights the inner strength of these four unforgettable women and that celebrates love, family, and a woman’s right to choose her own path. 4.5 STARS