As a war widow herself, Virginia Ellis is drawn to the "… quiet tragedies and triumphs of women who lost their men forever." She calls on her own emotions to bring forth a story of courage and hope in the face of despair. The Atwater sisters, Victoria and Julia, were just brides when their husbands marched off to war and never returned. Desperately trying to bring some happiness into the life of their 17-year-old sister, Claire (who dreams of being a bride), they begin to make a wedding dress even though there is not yet a groom on hand.

News of their task spreads and people give them buttons, thread and lace to add to the dress, which has become a symbol of hope for the future. Even "sightings" of ghostly soldiers do not deter the sisters from looking forward. As the gown takes shape. Julia receives a visit from Monroe Tacy, a sergeant in her husband's regiment. Monroe brings William's ring to Julia and by fulfilling a dying man's wish he opens the door to a future of love and life for himself and the Atwaters.

This lovely, sweetly touching tale, told through Julia's eyes, is inspiring and uplifting in its message of hope. You will believe in the light at the end of the tunnel and that good can come from tragedy. For all its simplicity, THE WEDDING DRESS is a hauntingly beautiful story with a powerful message, teaching us how to leave the past and look to the future, for even a wedding dress without a groom can have a happy ending. SWEET (Jun., 292 pp., $21.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin