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The Wedding Veil

LIST PRICE $27.00

    About The Book

    A NATIONAL BESTSELLER

    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.

    Excerpt

    Prologue: Magic: June 5, 1879

    PROLOGUE Magic June 5, 1879


    Six-year-old Edith Dresser’s skates moved heavily, as if she were rolling through sand, across the patterned wool rug in her mother Susan’s bedroom. She lived for moments like this, when she had her vivacious, beautiful mother all to herself while her three sisters continued their skating downstairs in the dining room. Usually, her mother’s lady’s maid would have helped Susan get ready for the party she was attending this evening, but she wasn’t feeling well. So instead, Edith stood—her skates making her taller—admiring the rows of frocks for every occasion in her mother’s closet.

    “Do you think the pink for tonight, darling?” Susan asked. Edith tried to focus on her mother, but her child’s eyes wandered to the back corner of the narrow closet. “I love pink, Mama,” Edith said as she clomped ungracefully to a garment she knew well. With a tentative finger, she traced the lace on the edge of her favorite piece, the one she and her sisters loved to try on most: her mother’s wedding veil.

    Susan turned and smiled, watching her daughter study one of her most prized possessions. In a burst of energy, she moved behind Edith, swept the long veil off its hanger, and motioned for Edith to follow her. In the light and opulence of her bedroom, Susan placed the cherished Juliet cap on her small daughter’s head, gently touching the rows of pearls at the bottom. She smiled.

    “Just look at you, my girl,” Susan said as she arranged the lace-edged tulle around her daughter’s shoulders, the contrast great against her gray wool dress. Edith stood as still as one of the statues in the yard, holding her breath so she couldn’t possibly damage the veil.

    Staring into the mirror, Edith felt transformed. It was still her reflection looking back at her, in her usual outfit with her favorite roller skates. But, somehow, she was completely different.

    Susan bent down until her eyes locked with her daughter’s in the mirror. “One day,” she said, “when you are quite grown up and find a man you love very much, you will wear this veil just like I did when I married Daddy.”

    Edith watched her own eyes go wide, imagining. Then she scrunched her nose. “But I want to stay with you, Mama.” Edith knew that, in other houses like hers, little girls were supposed to be seen and not heard. They weren’t allowed to roller skate inside and certainly weren’t permitted to play dress-up in their mother’s elegant clothes. Why would Edith ever want to leave a mother who let her keep a dozen pet turtles in the yard?

    Susan laughed, moving in front of her daughter to adjust the veil again. She wrapped her in a hug and said, “No, Edi. You are going to find a wonderful man and be the most beautiful bride. Daddy will be there to walk you down the aisle, your sisters will stand beside you as your bridesmaids, and I will sniffle into my handkerchief and wipe my eyes because I will be so proud and happy.”

    Edith was confused. “If you’re happy, why would you cry?”

    “Because that’s what mothers do at their daughters’ weddings.”

    Edith studied her mother, trying to think if she had ever seen her cry from happiness. She couldn’t remember a time, but, then again, Mama had a whole life that didn’t involve Edith, many hours that she would never see. And she figured that Mama liked living with Daddy, along with Edith and her sisters Susan, Pauline, and Natalie. So perhaps Edith would come to like having a family of her own as well. But she had conditions. Thinking of her favorite storybook, Cinderella, she said, “If I’m going to get married, I think I’d like to be a princess.”

    Susan laughed delightedly. “Yes, yes. You, most certainly, will be a princess. You will live in a castle with many acres to roam to stretch your legs and plenty of fresh air to fill your lungs. You will have your own lady’s maid and a nursery full of lovely children. You will find a husband who will love you more than the stars, who will give you the earth and everything on it.”

    This gave Edith a wonderful idea. “Can I marry Daddy, Mama?”

    Susan smiled indulgently. “Well, I’m married to Daddy. But you will find a man just like Daddy, who is kind and handsome and loves you very much. And he will take care of you like Daddy takes care of me.”

    Edith nodded. Becoming a bride suddenly seemed very, very important. She looked back at herself in the mirror, at how beautiful the veil was and, when she was wearing it, how beautiful she became. “Is this a magic wedding veil, Mama?” Edith asked.

    Susan nodded enthusiastically. “Why yes, darling,” she whispered. “You have discovered the secret. Once you wear it on your wedding day, you will be happy forever.”

    Edith, looking at herself one last time, wondered if she should share this life-changing news with her sisters. But no. That would ruin it somehow. She had a secret with her beloved mother, one to call her very own: The wedding veil was magic. And once she wore it, the fairy-tale life her mother had promised would be hers.

    Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for The Wedding Veil includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

    Introduction

    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.

    Topics & Questions for Discussion

    1. When we first meet Julia at her bridesmaids’ luncheon the day before her wedding, she experiences a moment of panic about getting married. She soothes her nerves by thinking “Follow the rules. Follow the rules” (pg. 9). How do each of the narrators “follow the rules”? Do they ever decide not to follow the rules? Discuss how Julia’s mother, Meredith, did follow the rules, and how it affected her life and marriage.

    2. The wedding veil is what weaves the characters and their stories together in the book. Discuss how it impacts each person who wears it. What does it represent for each of them?

    3. Throughout the book we see characters creating second chances for themselves: Julia by making the decision to leave Hayes, forge her own path, and go back to school; Babs and Edith by allowing themselves to find love again; and Cornelia by leaving the life she knows and searching for her own happiness. Have you ever had a second chance at something? Do you wish you had?

    4. Edith and Cornelia recognize their privilege and feel a strong sense of social responsibility, often lending a helping hand within their community. Was this common of that time? How do they compare to today’s very wealthy class in this regard?

    5. When Julia returns from St. Thomas, she and Babs visit Biltmore Estate. While admiring the beauty and extravagance of it, Julia also acknowledges the “impracticality and inefficiency” of it (pg. 268). She thinks to herself, “that was part of being an architect—creating structures that fit the times” (pg. 268). How do Julia’s reflections on architecture also apply to her feelings about her own life and the choices she has to make?

    6. Discuss how the family traditions of the characters bring them closer to the people in their lives. Does tradition ever create unfair expectations?

    7. In the penultimate chapter of the book, Babs confesses to Julia that she was the one who anonymously texted the video of Hayes with another woman to the bridesmaids’ group the day before Julia’s wedding. How do you think Babs handled this situation?

    8. Cornelia Vanderbilt grew up in the limelight. How do you think this affected her mental health and the decision she ultimately makes to leave her home, her marriage, and her life to move to England to find her calling? Were there other contributing factors?

    9. When Babs’s mother is reflecting on the moment she received the wedding veil on the train, she remembers experiencing uncertainty about marrying Babs’s father. When Cornelia hands her the veil, she tells her, “What you need is a sign” (pg. 252). What other “signs” do the characters use throughout the book to help them make decisions?

    10. Although Julia loves Hayes, she never feels completely confident that being with him is the right decision; still, she sometimes finds it easier to make decisions based on safety and comfort vs. being true to her own feelings. Discuss how some characters find comfort in playing it safe, while others find it restricting.

    11. Moving on is an inevitable part of everyone’s lives. How does Edith handle George’s death and moving on with her life? How does Babs handle moving on from Reid? And how does Julia handle moving forward from her relationship with Hayes?

    12. After Babs moves to Summer Acres she immediately reconnects with Miles. She feels conflicted, as if she is betraying her late husband. She understands that she will always mourn Reid and that there is a possibility she will mourn the loss of Miles one day too, but realizes it would perhaps be worst of all to mourn a relationship that was never given a chance. Do any other characters in the book come to this realization too? How so?

    13. The four narrators are from different times and upbringings. Discuss what they have in common. How are they different?

    14. Throughout the story, we see different women moving through different phases of their lives. How does what they want in life change as they move through these different phases?

    15. In the chapter “Mistress of Biltmore”(pg. 235), George tells a young Cornelia, “Writing and art are what we use to make sense of our lives. But it is science and math that truly govern them. The words might lead you astray, but the numbers are fixed, unchanging” (pg. 236). What role do you think this plays in Cornelia’s fascination with and dependence on numerology?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. Imagine Cornelia as a young woman today. How might her life path be shaped by the presence of social media?

    2. Does your family have any heirlooms? Share with the group and discuss their significance to your family.

    3. Research a local place of historical significance. How did this place, and the people surrounding it, help shape your community as it is today? Perhaps you can plan a group trip to explore it.

    4. Think about something that you have always wanted to do (learn to paint, take a language class, etc.) but never felt was attainable. Discuss this with the group and strategize about how you can take the next step toward this goal.

    5. Cornelia married John Cecil in 1924. What dishes and beverages were popular among the upper class during this time? Create a menu for their wedding.

    About The Author

    Jay Ackerman

    Kristy Woodson Harvey is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including The Wedding Veil, Under the Southern Sky, and The Peachtree Bluff series, which is in development for television with NBC. A Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism, her writing has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Southern Living, Traditional Home, USA TODAY, Domino, and O. Henry. Kristy is the winner of the Lucy Bramlette Patterson Award for Excellence in Creative Writing and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her books have received numerous accolades including Southern Living’s Most Anticipated Beach Reads, Parade’s Big Fiction Reads, and Entertainment Weekly’s Spring Reading Picks. Kristy is the cocreator and cohost of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. She blogs with her mom Beth Woodson on Design Chic, and loves connecting with fans on KristyWoodsonHarvey.com. She lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband and son where she is (always!) working on her next novel.

    Product Details

    • Publisher: Gallery Books (March 29, 2022)
    • Length: 416 pages
    • ISBN13: 9781982180713

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    Raves and Reviews

    Praise for THE WEDDING VEIL
    "Masterfully woven...[a] literary homerun. This split-time narrative will delight readers of both contemporary and historical novels. As with all her books, Harvey delivers her trademark glamour and lighthearted spirit, all while weaving in fashion, architectural design, and the dramas that play out in daily life. It’s a delightful, well-shaped novel that leaves readers with a burst of joy in the end. And who knows? Readers may even close the book believing that with a little magic, a family may be able to survive all the hardships to create their own little happy ever after."New York Journal of Books

    "Bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey will undoubtedly knock this out of the park."—Zibby Owens, Katie Couric Media

    "The author easily switches between the time periods to locate momentous events in the characters’ lives and connect each story line with the veil at the center. Harvey, ever a fine storyteller, manages to keep the pages turning."Publishers Weekly

    "Finding inspiration in the true story of Edith Vanderbilt and her mysteriously disappeared wedding veil, Harvey intertwines a veil's generations-spanning journey, the lives of the women who wore it, and the strength required to remove the veil and follow one's heart instead."Booklist

    "The author of the Peachtree Bluff series brings her signature warmth and Southern charm to this story about four women across generations that are bound by a beautiful wedding veil and a connection to the famous Vanderbilt family. Like sweet tea, Woodson Harvey's writing coats your soul with heart."—E! Online

    "Connecting the early days of the Vanderbilt dynasty in 1914 to a panicked family in present day American south, The Wedding Veil is an awe-inspiring novel."—Brit & Co

    "From Asheville, N.C., to the British Virgin Islands, and from Manhattan to Raleigh, four women across the generations—all of them shaped by love and circumstance—find a way to summon their inner strength against the odds. A delightful, glamorous fairy tale—laced with a slice of history, a bit of fashion, and a lot of Harvey's signature wit and warmth—for those of us who know that 'happily ever after' only arrives after we've learned to stand on our own."—Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars

    "Woodson Harvey’s latest is a knockout—a perfect blend of historical fiction (two generations of Vanderbilts and their iconic North Carolina mansion) and modern love (a runaway bride and her grieving grandmother). Her masterful intertwining of the storylines makes for a read that’s both sweeping yet incredibly intimate, with perfect pacing and characters who surprised at every turn. I didn’t want it to end."—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace

    “Kristy Woodson Harvey seamlessly intertwines the past and present in a multi-generational tale as elegant and charming as the elusive Vanderbilt veil itself. Through an exploration of love, family, and identity, The Wedding Veil guided me on a heartfelt journey brimming with endearing characters and delightful twists. I absolutely loved it.”—Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of Sold on a Monday

     "Kristy Woodson Harvey weds history and modern day into a fascinating and astonishing marriage. With Harvey’s signature charming and heartfelt prose, The Wedding Veil explores love in all its dazzling facets across four generations and two families. Seeking answers to the extraordinary mystery of the Vanderbilt’s lost heirloom, Harvey unveils the past to bring truth to the future. Including an unrivaled and elegant Biltmore setting, The Wedding Veil is enchanting, surprising and Harvey at her story-telling best.”Patti Callahan, New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis

    "Kristy Woodson Harvey expertly weaves together the mystery of the missing Vanderbilt wedding veil with the stories of four incredible women, all searching for their independence, their purpose, and ultimately their happiness. Told with her signature wit and warmth, The Wedding Veil is as glittering as the women at the heart of it!"—Julia Kelly, international bestselling author of The Last Garden in England

    "Kristy Woodson Harvey’s entrée into historical fiction is breathtakingly charming. While Harvey has been a major player in contemporary women’s fiction for a number of years, her historical voice, her research, and her elegant prose earn her a place of respect in this new genre as well. A beautifully told story that is sure to be one of the year’s best."Aimie K. Runyan, bestselling author of The School for German Brides 

    "[A] sweet, multiperiod saga...Harvey treats her subjects with gentle care, smoothing their trials with wisdom and hope. With its lavish central symbol and peek into Vanderbilt history, The Wedding Veil has a strong, sentimental allure."Historical Novel Society

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