A Beautiful Allegory
The Wedding Shop is a dual timeline story. In the present, there is Haley, ex-Air Force captain who has returned to her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, to fulfil her childhood dream of reopening Miss Cora’s once-famous wedding shop. The past story is Miss Cora’s. While the two women initially appear completely different, over time we find they have a lot in common.
I thought these commonalities and the clever (and careful) way in which they were gradually revealed was one of the major strengths of the story. I often find one story in a dual timeline novel draws me in more than the other. In paper novels, I’ve been guilty of reading one timeline through to the end, then wondering if I even want to go back and read the other. Sometimes I wonder if the two stories are even linked, or if it’s simply two novellas with the same setting combined to make a “proper novel.”
That certainly wasn’t the case with The Wedding Shop.
I will admit I was initially more engaged in Haley’s story than Cora’s – until I started to see the linkages between the two. And I don’t want to say too much about that for fear of revealing a spoiler … I will say that if you find the beginning a little less than enthralling, keep going. All will be revealed. Including a big twist at the end which I had no idea was coming.
One of the issues of historical fiction is that there are elements of the plot which we know is coming. For example, Miss Cora’s story starts in the early months of 1930, not long after the 1929 stock market crash which triggered the Great Depression. We’ve heard the stories, read the novels. We know some of what is coming. And that adds external tension because we know something the characters don’t know.
And Rachel Hauck played this tension perfectly, and had matching tension in the contemporary part of the story. Combine this with two sets of great characters, and The Wedding Shop is a true winner with an underlying message of God’s forgiveness, our identity as children of God, and the lies we allow ourselves to believe.
I haven’t read The Wedding Dress or The Wedding Chapel, and it’s not necessary in order to enjoy The Wedding Shop. Those who have read the earlier novels will no doubt enjoy the references to both. Those who haven’t might not even pick up on them if they didn’t know there were previous novels.
Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Rachel Hauck at her website, and you can read the introduction to The Wedding Shop below: