The Wedding Dress Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Wedding Dress

Ballantine, Jun 2002, 21.95, 304 pp.
ISBN: 0345444825

    By 1865, the war is over, but Virginia still has to recover. Sisters Victoria and Julia Atwater mourn the losses of their husbands, Confederate soldiers who died fighting, but have little time to grieve as survival is a daily chore. However, their seventeen-year-old younger sister Claire is depressed because she has no future as there are no men to marry and no prospects of starting a new life. Julia persuades Victoria that they must find a way to make Claire dream again.
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    They decide to make their sister a wedding dress though she has no suitor. Though they cannot afford the money wasted on so frivolous an activity, the sisters dive headfirst into the tasks. As they work on THE WEDDING DRESS, word spreads that Claire is marrying a returning soldier. The neighbors needing escape from the dismal aftereffects of the war join the three sisters as this event provides a bit of solace.

    THE WEDDING DRESS is a tremendous work of historical fiction that demonstrates the need for hope in the future even when the present is so dark that there looks like there is no tomorrow. The story line is cleverly written so that the audience feels the deepest emotions of the sisters struggling with their lot and the symbolism represented by the dress. The use of “ghost riders” though exciting and a metaphorical representation of the loss still seems an unnecessary diversion from the prime theme. Virginia Ellis provides a strong tale that is mindful of Viktor Frankel's classic Man's Search for Meaning as the community desperately needed something to live for.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of The Wedding Dress

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1600-1899 Ethnic/Regional/Religion    -   American South Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   vague finding self/purpose in life (i.e. no plot to book) Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book War/Revolt/Disaster on civilians    -   Yes Coping with loss of loved one(s)    -   Yes Loss of...    -   husband/boyfriend/squeeze Ethnic/regional/gender life    -   Yes Conflict:    -   War, general    -   War, Civil Woman's story?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   homemaker Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   6 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Southeast

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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