Kristy Woodson Harvey has written a number of contempo lit/women’s fiction novels over the years and I have been a massive fan ever since I read her first book years ago! I have read almost all of her books and each one is always well written with charm, wit, and excellent story telling. I have recommended her books to so many of my friends and I have yet to meet someone who was disappointed in her novels.
This book is her first foray into historical fiction and sometimes the crossover doesn’t go smoothly for some writers. Most writers pick a genre and stick with it and historical fiction writers are kind of a weird breed to be honest. They often do meticulous research for their books and try to remain true to the period so it is rare to see an author go from contempo lit into historical fiction. If it were any other author, I would be nervous but I never once doubted that Harvey could make the cross over.
I was so excited to see this book was coming out and I spent MONTHS eagerly awaiting the release of the book and when it arrived I wasted no time diving into it. I just love Harvey’s writing style and couldn’t wait to see how her modern voice translated into a more historical piece. Not only is this cover stunning, the summary and story promised within are surly enough to lure readers in without much trouble! I know that I for one would have picked this one up based on the cover alone!
The New York Times bestselling author of Under the Southern Sky and the Peachtree Bluff series brings “her signature wit, charm, and heart” (Woman’s World) to this sweeping new novel following four women across generations, bound by a beautiful wedding veil and a connection to the famous Vanderbilt family.
Four women. One family heirloom. A secret connection that will change their lives—and history as they know it.
Present Day: Julia Baxter’s wedding veil, bequeathed to her great-grandmother by a mysterious woman on a train in the 1930s, has passed through generations of her family as a symbol of a happy marriage. But on the morning of her wedding day, something tells her that even the veil’s good luck isn’t enough to make her marriage last forever. Overwhelmed and panicked, she escapes to the Virgin Islands to clear her head. Meanwhile, her grandmother Babs is also feeling shaken. Still grieving the death of her beloved husband, she decides to move out of the house they once shared and into a retirement community. Though she hopes it’s a new beginning, she does not expect to run into an old flame, dredging up the same complicated emotions she felt a lifetime ago.
1914: Socialite Edith Vanderbilt is struggling to manage the luxurious Biltmore Estate after the untimely death of her cherished husband. With 250 rooms to oversee and an entire village dependent on her family to stay afloat, Edith is determined to uphold the Vanderbilt legacy—and prepare her free-spirited daughter Cornelia to inherit it—in spite of her family’s deteriorating financial situation. But Cornelia has dreams of her own. Asheville, North Carolina has always been her safe haven away from the prying eyes of the press, but as she explores more of the rapidly changing world around her, she’s torn between upholding tradition and pursuing the exciting future that lies beyond Biltmore’s gilded gates.
In the vein of Therese Anne Fowler’s A Well-Behaved Woman and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown, The Wedding Veil brings to vivid life a group of remarkable women forging their own paths—and explores the mystery of a national heirloom lost to time. (summary from Goodreads)
The first thing that stood out to me in this one was the duel timeline narrative. This approach has been a staple in the historical fiction genre for a while now and while some people might feel like it’s over done, but I thought it worked well in this story fit appropriately within the narrative. I for one love pondering the backstory of family heirlooms and with this book the story of the wedding veil and the connection is has really came alive with the narrative. Each duel narrative worked to enhance the other, forming a nice synergistic feel to both plots. Over-done or not, the duel timeline worked for me in this one and I just loved it! I also loved that there was a little bit of a rom-com in the modern narrative that I was not expecting so if you love a fun little modern day romance mixed into a lovely historical fiction novel then this is a must read option!
Now as a huge fan of historical fiction, I am always approach every historical fiction novel with a critical eye. I love history and I appreciate attention to historical details so naturally I was most eager to read the historical parts of this book. I was pleasantly surprised by the attention to detail and historical research that was done with this one! Baltimore House was almost it’s own character in this book and I loved reading about it as well as the Vanderbilt family. I thought Harvey did a marvelous job crafting a fictional story based on real people and events with care and attention to the historical details. I think that even the most devoted readers of historical fiction will appreciate her research, care, and details that went into making this book shine in the historical fiction genre.
Harvey does generational novels so incredibly well. I cannot reiterate enough how well written this book is and how each story line is compelling in its own way. I absolutely adored reading this book and didn’t want it to end. There is so much to enjoy in each narrative, you will find love, history, glamour, emotion, and addition in this one—-addicting because you will NOT want to put this one down or want it to end! Often when I read duel timeline books I find I am invested in one timeline more than the other but not with this one. Each timeline has a lot to enjoy and relate to and I simply adored this one. I hope Harvey will continue to write historical fiction novels because she certainly has a gift with them!
Book Info and Rating
Format: 416 pages, paperback
Published: March 29th 2022 by Gallery Books
Free review copy provided by publisher, Gallery Books in partnership with the Tall Poppy Writers/Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical fiction