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The Wedding Dress

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  646 Ratings  ·  178 Reviews
“We began the dress on the last evening in October.” For three sisters, it will become a banner of hope, spun from delicate memories of genteel tradition and woven with threads of possibility. Through the desolate landscape of winter, it will act as a beacon of unexpected fortune and faith in a world void of promise. It will inspire the noble heart that lies dormant beneat ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published 2002)
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Oct 18, 2015 Marcia rated it really liked it
This was a very good story. It dealt with the women left behind by the Civil War...war widows, those whose husbands returned broken in body and spirit, those so young they thought the war stole their future. They dealt with their trials with strength, humor and dreams. I loved that I've never read of a similar approach to finding a husband. I was glad the women came to know themselves and didn't allow themselves to be stuck in a box...

I recommend this as a wonderful inspiring story...have your h
Mar 28, 2011 Cori rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club, fiction
This is a story of three sisters in the Civil War, two who lost their husbands and one who fears she will never get married since most of the men went away and never returned. The sisters decide to sew a wedding dress for the youngest to help her dream come true. A few interesting characters kept me going on this. I felt the plot was a little contrived, very predictable and the writing itself wasn't fantastic. But the fact that the author was a war widow herself softened me towards it a little ...more
Feb 17, 2009 Ang rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed this quick and nice read. I was wary of the "Romance" designation because of the ripped bodices and obsessed sex books that get lumped into this category. This book is the kind of romance novel I like. Clean, realistic, sweet, and believable. The characters are great and the flow of the story is smooth and surprising. I will definitely be recommending this book and reading more from the author.
Mar 05, 2008 Janette rated it really liked it
This book was a fun, easy read. It is set in the post civil war, when three sisters are left alone to survive without fathers or husbands. There is a severe shortage of men, but they start sewing a wedding dress for the youngest daughter to keep her spirits up, and hope that a man will come along for her to marry before it is complete. A good love story with a ghostly twist.
Jul 28, 2011 Cathy rated it it was amazing
i love this book and how all the sisters came together for a wedding and how important the least little detail was and how each of the sisters chose one important detail to work on . awesome book .
Amber Bunger
Nov 12, 2016 Amber Bunger rated it really liked it
This book is one of those that you know what will happen but it still took me by surprise in the end. All and all I really did enjoy it!
Nov 05, 2016 Christa rated it it was ok
Nice and clean, but it felt like fluff with one dimensional characters.
Sep 17, 2016 Marlene rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The story of two sisters making a wedding dress for a younger sister at the end of the Civil War. I just wasn't interested in the sisters and their lives.
Mar 05, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
Three sisters struggle to survive after the Civil War devastated the south. Two of them widowed, they focus on their remaining unwed sister, promising Claire she’ll find a husband. They begin to sew her wedding dress while wondering where to get a groom. Then Sergeant Monroe Tacy shows up with a missive for Julia from her dead soldier husband. Monroe stays on, working himself into the household and into their hearts. But does he have his sights set on Claire or on one of the other ladies? A ...more
Mar 23, 2011 Jenben8426 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club, adult
It is 1865 only two years after the Civil War has ended. The Atwater sisters are in trouble. They are running low on money, supplies, and have no man to protect them during a time of reconstruction in the South. Victoria and Julia are widowed but they are determined that 17 year old Claire will not feel the distress that has taken hold of so many people. They promise Claire she will be married and begin to sew a wedding dress and pray that the groom will eventually show himself. Throughout the ...more
 Barb Bailey
Jul 03, 2008 Barb Bailey rated it it was amazing

Virginia Renfro Ellis’s extraordinary work of historical fiction evokes the tattered essence of the post-Civil War South, where widows, children, and scarred veterans were left to reconstruct a country. There is little to wish for in the lives of the Atwater women. Julia and Victoria were barely brides before their husbands marched off with the doomed Confederate army. Now alone, with scarcely enough money to see them through until spring, they embark on an impetuous mission to
May 20, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: cheesy romance fans
Shelves: fiction
To be honest, the author's writing is notably simplistic and unpolished. However, I liked the concept of this story most of all. It is about three sisters trying to survive on their plantation just after the end of the Civil War. Their parents are dead and two of the three sisters are now young widows. The third sister, Claire, is seventeen with few prospects for marriage because so many men were killed in the war. Julia and Victoria decide to make Claire a new wedding dress. The new wedding ...more
Mar 23, 2011 Elaine rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Elaine by: KW book group -- Amy C
With the Civil War ended and parents and husbands gone, three sisters try to keep the run-down family farm going in tough times of the reconstruction era. They also set out to sew a wedding dress for the youngest sister in the hopes that a groom will appear by the time the dress is completed. Help comes from unexpected avenues and things don't quite turn out the way they're envisioned.

This was a very enjoyable book. It was an interesting look at what post-Civil War life would have been like. I
Mar 11, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Loved it! Three sisters during the civil war lose their parents and two of them lose their husbands. The other sister was never married and they all decide to make her a wedding dress, even though there are no men around. The have the faith it will happen. The crazy things that happen after they decide to do this are amazing. I loved every turn and heartbreak. They are strong together.
One of the sister, Julia, who lost her husband in the war said this to her other sister Claire.
Jun 06, 2012 Susan rated it it was ok
Though the book does a great job of addressing women's concerns, its post-Civil War setting feels too contemporary and the romances aren't strong enough to save it. If you're searching for a strong historical novel, I would look elsewhere. However, if you'd like a quick, light read, and aren't too bothered by things like "historical accuracy," then this sappy novel would be perfect to wile away a few hours at the beach or in your general spare time. The book earns bonus points for having chaste ...more
May 10, 2012 Jana rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It is the kind of love story I really like. I really liked all of the characters in the story, and appreciated the trials they went through. Having taken History last fall and learning about the Civil War and the battles mentioned and the hardship of reconstruction, I enjoyed (in a subdued way) reading about those events.

I loved reading about the faith Julia and her sisters had. They used their faith much in the same way I do. I don't just wait for things to happen;
Oct 29, 2008 Rachelle rated it liked it
This is a post civil war story about 3 sisters who have lost nearly everything, including 2 spouses in the civil war. They are determined however not to give up hope for their youngest sister and so they set out making a wedding dress for their sister with no prospects and little hope of marrying. It's a story of faith and the miracles that occur when we believe they will. It's an interesting story and I mostly enjoyed it. The writing is pretty simplistic and sometimes I felt deflated after ...more
Apr 12, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book. I've just finished reading it for the second time. My step-mother gave it to me to read nearly 5 years ago just after calling off my engagement 30 days before the wedding. I read it while having a yard sale in which I was trying to get rid of a bunch old memories. It took me only 2 days to read. I couldn't put it down. My step-mother again gave me the book as a gift when my son was born. It has taken me over 2 years to get around to reading it. Again it took me only 2 ...more
Tara Henderson
Mar 10, 2008 Tara Henderson rated it really liked it
This is an amazing and easy to read book. It takes place a few years after the end of the civil war, and 3 sisters are left to fend for themselves. The 2 older sisters decide that they are going to make a wedding dress for their youngest sister. Once they decide to make to dress, it is so much fun reading about all the adventures that find them while they are making the dress. This book gives a real sense of what it was like to live in the South after the end of the war, and how hard times do ...more
Virginia Welch
Mar 06, 2013 Virginia Welch rated it it was amazing
Compelling story of two widowed Civil War sisters determined to find a husband for their younger sister. I've read this book twice because well, there are just times in life when you need a little lift. What's so amazing about The Wedding Dress is that it has a ghost in it and I still like it! I don't do paranormal anything, but Ms. Ellis weaves the notion of the otherworld so seemlessly into her story--it actually feels normal. It's a good love story too--and I'm all about the love story. I ...more
Jun 23, 2008 Barbara rated it liked it
This one was readable, caught my interest somewhat, but I wouldn't strongly recommend it to anyone. The protagonist is a widowed Civil War bride, and the hero a young soldier sent by her dying husband with a final message. There are ghosts, too. At one point I thought it might get interesting and that the hero would prove to be a ghost, too. Really a tepid romance, with few historical details and nice, but not deep, characterization. Of course, the Southerners in this novel never owned slaves, ...more
May 20, 2015 Danette rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I LOVE this book and have read it at least three times. I even spent an entire winter afternoon once re-telling the story to my youngest daughter who sat enthralled at the kitchen table (not always easy to do to a teenager!). It's a sweet and simple story of sister's in the post-Civil War South who hand sew a wedding dress for one of them. It is very tender and shouldn't be missed by anyone who enjoys books about the time period and the gentle manners of days gone by. Think I may have just ...more
Deidra Alexander
Jul 31, 2011 Deidra Alexander rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-s-fiction
The Wedding Dress is about three young sisters, two already widowed by the civil war and the hope they bring to a small southern town ravaged by the war.

The prose in The Wedding Dress is so beautifully written that after reading it in one night, I thought I should give up writing. The words seem carefully chosen and woven together like delicate lace. I cut the book up and put each page in a frame of notebook paper with the center cut out.

Unfortunately the author Virginia Ellis died some years
Nov 09, 2008 Jana rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adults and teenagers
Recommended to Jana by: book group
Easy fun read which considering what is going on in the world was a nice escape. For me it was a little slow to start (I love a book that grabs me from the first page), but once into it I was anxious to see what was going to happen next. It had the same feel to me as Little Women (sisters being alone during war times). I agree with others, the ghost occurances were a little out there, but I had fun imagining what they looked like and wondered what my reaction would be. I think I would be like ...more
Aug 03, 2009 Missy rated it really liked it
I'm not giving this 4 stars because it was a work of literary genius, but because it was an enjoyable read and a squeaky clean one at that. With a million other things I was supposed to be doing, I kept finding ways to justify sneaking in a chapter or so whenever I could get away with it. I liked the characters and their story. I thought it was predictable at times, but then things didn't always turn out the way I'd guessed so it wasn't so predictable after all. This story is a great example of ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Romie rated it liked it
3 sisters living alone just after the Civil War, 2 lost their husbands to the war and their 17 yr old sister fears she will never marry...there are no opportunities anymore. The older 2 sisters vow to see her married and begin working on her dress and even tell others she will be married in the spring. I love the idea of acting on faith, doing what you can to make what you want happen. Trusting God to help with all of the unknowns. The characters were likeable and believable to me. This wasn't a ...more
Tricia Cerrone
Jul 29, 2012 Tricia Cerrone rated it it was amazing
A story for my keeper shelf. I don't normally like Civil War stories, but Ms. Ellis writes a beautiful, sad, hopeful, and in the end, a magical story of three sisters decimated by war and struggling to rebuild their lives and find happiness again. My only request is to give us a better kiss at the end! But still loved it all. And, this is a book everyone can read and recommend, and not worry about their kids or more conservative readers being exposed to sex. I love these sisters and the men who ...more
Jul 07, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
This historical fiction/romance book told the story of three Southern sisters after the end of the Civil War. The unique part of this book was that it made the reader think about what it was like for young unmarried southern women who faced the stark reality that, after the war, their marriage prospects were not good due to the deaths of so many southern men. Though parts of the book involved a slight touch of the supernatural, it was still an interesting read which I would have given 3 1/2 ...more
Nov 14, 2015 Alicia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance
It is 1865, two years after the War Between the States. The Atwater sisters are in trouble. The South is devastated. They are running low on money and supplies. They have no man to do heavy work or protect them.

Victoria and Julia are was widows, but they are determined that 17 year old Claire should have a happy future. They begin to sew a wedding dress for Claire - and pray the groom will eventually show himself.

The post-war era was harsh, and things didn't fall into place the way they expecte
Vonnie Alto
Mar 23, 2011 Vonnie Alto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
What a thought provoking read! Three penniless sisters during the Civil War decide to make a wedding dress for their younger sister who is without a groom. As if by magic, they either find or are given the materials to sew her a wedding dress. Interestingly, a band of ghostly soldiers patrols their plantation keeping watch over them. It's a riveting book about faith and the power of love and otherworldly happenings!
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Virginia Ellis, the versatile and award-winning author, passed away January 18, 2006.

Harlequin author Lyn Ellis is also a professional photographer who has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and the world. With her camera she learned how to tell a visual story. Now, in her books, she is translating the visual into words, creating memorable characters, vivid settings and compelling romances.

More about Virginia Ellis...

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