The Magic Room: A Story about the Love We Wish for Our Daughters

The Magic Room: A Story about the Love We Wish for Our Daughters

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by Jeffrey Zaslow
     
 

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The New York Times bestselling journalist and author of The Girls from Ames, Jeffrey Zaslow, takes us to a multi- generational family owned small-town bridal shop to explore the emotional lives of women in the 21st century.

You may not have heard of Fowler, Michigan, much less Becker's Bridal. But for the thousands of women who have stepped inside,

Overview

The New York Times bestselling journalist and author of The Girls from Ames, Jeffrey Zaslow, takes us to a multi- generational family owned small-town bridal shop to explore the emotional lives of women in the 21st century.

You may not have heard of Fowler, Michigan, much less Becker's Bridal. But for the thousands of women who have stepped inside, Becker's is the site of some of the most important moments of their lives-moments that speak to us all. Housed in a former bank, the boutique owners transformed the vault into a "magic room," with soft church lighting, a circular pedestal, and mirrors that make lifelong dreams come true.

Illuminating the poignant aspects of a woman's journey to the altar, The Magic Room tells the stories of memorable women on the brink of commitment. Run by the same family for years, Becker's has witnessed transformations in how America views the institution of marriage; some of the shop's clientele are becoming stepmothers, or starting married life for a second time. In The Girls from Ames, beloved author Jeffrey Zaslow used friendships to explore the emotional lives of women. In The Magic Room, he turns his perceptive eye to weddings and weaves together secrets, memories and family tales to explore the hopes and dreams we have for our daughters.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This tender, intimate study of the changing nature of wedlock by journalist Zaslow (The Girls from Ames) traces the many generations of devoted customers at a Michigan bridal shop. Once upon a time, when Becker’s Bridal shop in the tiny middle-class town of Fowler, Mich., first opened during the Depression, it took the bride-to-be and her mother an average of an hour to try on three or four of matriarch Eva Becker’s modestly priced dresses; now it takes at least 30 tries and numerous hours to seize on the right gown—at a cost of to ,600 per. The current owner, Eva’s granddaughter Shelley Becker Mueller, a 45-year-old divorcée whose daughter, Alyssa, works with her in the store, is “in the magic business,” selling bridal gowns among mostly knowing Midwestern families, who line up for the chance to try on lovely specimens and model them in the so-called Magic Room (formerly the bank vault of the building), rimmed by mirrors, and graced by soft lighting and Sinatra tunes. Naturally, the Detroit-based author, now a columnist at the Wall Street Journal, with three daughters of his own, elicits personal stories from worthy brides-to-be captured at the store, such as the Baptist-raised local daughter who along with her three sisters swore “a vow of purity” until marriage; the 40-year-old marrying for the first time; and the young lady maimed in a car crash whose fiancé stood by her. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"Zaslow captures the joy, hope, love and magic." (Top Pick) - Bookpage

"A compelling and sincere chronology of the experiences, tragedies, and love that led them to the shop. His narrative is sprinkled with fascinating statistical information … and insights into the lives and relationships of the four generations of Becker women who have worked at the store … A study of individual lives and dreams, this is recommended for casual readers and those with an interest in cultural and social customs concerning marriage, women's roles, and parent-child relationships."

Library Journal

"The Magic Room has all the makings of a cozy, nostalgic wedding read. Tulle, check. Satin and organza, check. Bridezillas, drama and tears? Yes, yes, yes….the highlight of the book is the comings and goings of bride after bride through Becker's, Zaslow also details the excitement and joy of getting married and the commitment and dedication it takes to stay married."

Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Interesting, rewarding and heartbreaking"

The Washington Post

"Shows the poignancy in everyday love stories."

The New York Times

"Forget bridezillas.- A best-selling journalist visits a small-town wedding shop to uncover the poignant dreams of real women on the verge of commitment."

O, the Oprah Magazine

"A tenderhearted portrait of a bridal store in a small Michigan town... In a handful of their stories, Zaslow gently delineates the changing lives of women and finds-in among the mishaps, misunderstandings and tragedies that derail many relationships-ample evidence of the enduring power of marriage."

People Magazine

"The book itself - to use the manliest possible term - is lovely. As lovely as a bride."

Detriot News

"Anyone looking for happily-ever-afters will find plenty of them here."

Columbus Dispatch

"Zaslow's profile of the bridal shop, from the geopolitics of dressmaking to the effects of TV shows like Bridezillas,-is almost as riveting as the bridal tales. The author plucks at the heartstrings as he relates all the yearnings of the brides-to-be and the travails they encounter on the way to the altar."

Kirkus Reviews

"Tender and intimate."

Publishers Weekly

"Zaslow captures the joy, hope, love and magic." (Top Pick)

Bookpage

"A compelling and sincere chronology of the experiences, tragedies, and love that led them to the shop. His narrative is sprinkled with fascinating statistical information … and insights into the lives and relationships of the four generations of Becker women who have worked at the store … A study of individual lives and dreams, this is recommended for casual readers and those with an interest in cultural and social customs concerning marriage, women's roles, and parent-child relationships."

Library Journal

Library Journal
In the small town of Fowler, MI, Becker's Bridal has served over 100,000 brides-to-be since the mid-1930s. Along the way, fashions and customs have changed as brides have visited the store's so-called Magic Room to gaze at endless mirrored images of themselves in their wedding gown, an apt metaphor for Zaslow (columnist, Wall Street Journal; The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship) as they reflect on their lives, relationships, and dreams for the future. Zaslow shadows half a dozen of the women who go to Becker's Bridal, listening to their stories and writing a compelling and sincere chronology of the experiences, tragedies, and love that led them to the shop. His narrative is sprinkled with fascinating statistical information concerning marriage and divorce, as well as his cultural analysis and observations concerning family and spousal relationships and insights into the lives and relationships of the four generations of Becker women who have worked at the store. VERDICT Not an examination of today's marriage industry but a study of individual lives and dreams, this is recommended for casual readers and those with an interest in cultural and social customs concerning marriage, women's roles, and parent-child relationships.—Jennifer Harris, Mercyhurst Coll. North East Lib., Erie, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Wall Street Journal columnist Zaslow (The Girls from Ames, 2009, etc.) delivers an emotive excursion through the world of parents and daughters and the state of marriage in the United States. The author approaches his subjects via a small-town Michigan bridal shop, a canny choice in that he can take measure of the heartland while framing the bigger picture through sociological studies and then tightening down to his own fears and hopes as a father of three girls. The town of Fowler has only 1,100 residents, but it is a major crossroads in many lives: Becker's Bridal has sold more than 100,000 gowns over nearly eight decades and four generations of Beckers. Zaslow writes in a tone of inclusive intimacy, focusing on six women who went to Becker's to find the right dress. The author plucks at the heartstrings as he relates all the yearnings of the brides-to-be and the travails they encounter on the way to the alter. Zaslow offers plenty of statistics about love and marriage, but they pale in comparison to the everyday stories of the complex circumstances that often surround the big day. "A wedding is a happy life-cycle event, yes, but the harsher life-cycle moments aren't kept at bay until after the wedding […] weddings are often optimistic islands surrounded by oceans of uncertainty, loneliness, and grief," he writes. "For some women, a bridal gown can feel like a life preserver." The author's vignettes of the six women are wildly dissimilar, but they weave together into a complicated damascene that holds true to much age-old wisdom: Marriage involves serious demands on patience, endless petty annoyances and many compromises, as well as modesty, respect and duty. Zaslow's profile of the bridal shop, from the geopolitics of dressmaking to the effects of TV shows like Bridezillas, is almost as riveting as the bridal tales.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune
The Magic Room has all the makings of a cozy, nostalgic wedding read. Tulle, check. Satin and organza, check. Bridezillas, drama and tears? Yes, yes, yes….the highlight of the book is the comings and goings of bride after bride through Becker's, Zaslow also details the excitement and joy of getting married and the commitment and dedication it takes to stay married.
The Washington Post
Interesting, rewarding and heartbreaking
The New York Times
Shows the poignancy in everyday love stories.
People Magazine
A tenderhearted portrait of a bridal store in a small Michigan town... In a handful of their stories, Zaslow gently delineates the changing lives of women and finds—in among the mishaps, misunderstandings and tragedies that derail many relationships—ample evidence of the enduring power of marriage.
Detriot News
The book itself — to use the manliest possible term — is lovely. As lovely as a bride.
Columbus Dispatch
Anyone looking for happily-ever-afters will find plenty of them here.
Bookpage
“Zaslow captures the joy, hope, love and magic.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592406616
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/27/2011
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"The Magic Room has all the makings of a cozy, nostalgic wedding read. Tulle, check. Satin and organza, check. Bridezillas, drama and tears? Yes, yes, yes….the highlight of the book is the comings and goings of bride after bride through Becker's, Zaslow also details the excitement and joy of getting married and the commitment and dedication it takes to stay married."—Minneapolis Star Tribune “Interesting, rewarding and heartbreaking”—The Washington Post “Shows the poignancy in everyday love stories.”—The New York Times “Forget bridezillas. A best-selling journalist visits a small-town wedding shop to uncover the poignant dreams of real women on the verge of commitment.”—O, the Oprah Magazine “A tenderhearted portrait of a bridal store in a small Michigan town... In a handful of their stories, Zaslow gently delineates the changing lives of women and finds—in among the mishaps, misunderstandings and tragedies that derail many relationships—ample evidence of the enduring power of marriage.”—People Magazine “The book itself — to use the manliest possible term — is lovely. As lovely as a bride.”—Detriot News Anyone looking for happily-ever-afters will find plenty of them here.”—Columbus Dispatch “Zaslow’s profile of the bridal shop, from the geopolitics of dressmaking to the effects of TV shows like Bridezillas, is almost as riveting as the bridal tales. The author plucks at the heartstrings as he relates all the yearnings of the brides-to-be and the travails they encounter on the way to the altar.”—Kirkus Reviews “Tender and intimate.”—Publishers Weekly “Zaslow captures the joy, hope, love and magic.”—Bookpage “A compelling and sincere chronology of the experiences, tragedies, and love that led them to the shop. His narrative is sprinkled with fascinating statistical information … and insights into the lives and relationships of the four generations of Becker women who have worked at the store … A study of individual lives and dreams, this is recommended for casual readers and those with an interest in cultural and social customs concerning marriage, women’s roles, and parent-child relationships.”—Library Journal

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Zaslow is the author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Girls from Ames and coauthor of Highest Duty, with Chesley Sullenberger, as well as The Last Lecture, with Randy Pausch. A Wall Street Journal columnist, he lives in suburban Detroit with his wife and their three daughters.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
West Bloomfield, MI
Date of Birth:
October 6, 1958
Date of Death:
February 10, 2012
Place of Birth:
Philadelphia, PA
Education:
B.A., Creative Writing, Carnegie Mellon University, 1980

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Magic Room 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really liked this book. Tragic that it was one of his last, I am now on a mission to read all his books. The best part is the telling about the four generations of family women who run the business. Love the way he ties the stories about each of the brides together, although each one very different. He shares insights about the brides, their personal stories and their weeding days, makes you feel like you knew them personally.
Melanie96 More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. A good read for men too with daughters. While reading this book I was saddened to hear that Mr.Zaslow passed away in an accident..and would never see his daughters get married.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
A book full of stories that made me laugh, cry and hope for the future. Taking place in a coveted room inside a family owned bridal boutique that has been open for many decades and many generations have found their all important wedding dress. Grandmothers are now accompanying their grand daughters on this special shopping trip. Author of The Girls From Ames, Jeffrey Zaslow gets to the heart of how the relationships between women, whether it be mother/daughter, grandmother/granddaughter, or bride/friend; the art of shopping for the wedding dress has changed over the year and the quest for the dress is as important as many of the other wedding decisions that are made. This act is something that I have dreamed about for years with my mom, sister and those I hold close to me. I can't wait to try on a few dresses and get some honest opinions from, the big butt to utter perfection - these are what dreams are made of! Zaslow highlights different brides that have entered through their doors and what brought them to this special decision. Not only does he chronicle the history of the store, but the family behind this landmark in Fowler, Michigan. Such a great book for women of all ages - young and old and in between will enjoy this book as they remember their own shopping adventures or have had a few dreams about their upcoming shopping adventures.
Donna_M_Brown More than 1 year ago
I often read non-fiction but mostly current affairs or history, so I’m not sure what possessed me to request to take part in Crazy Book Tour’s virtual book tour for The Magic Room. I suppose all I can say is that every now and again a book ‘speaks’ to you and cries out to be read (much like the cookies that – ahem – cry out to be eaten). The Magic Room was one such book. I was intrigued by the description and the idea of a book that examined such a wide range of relationships: the relationship between marriage and the modern world. The relationship between mothers or fathers and daughters. The relationship between the bridal dream and the fiscal reality. Jeffrey Zaslow chose to set his book about “the Love We Wish for Our Daughters” in a bridal shop and I think doing so was a masterstroke. In that one decision he opened up boundless possibilities and the book embraces many of them fully. The Magic Room is a wonderful mix of anecdotes, family history, economic history and statistics. The book is related with warmth and humour, with touching stories interspersed with tongue-in-cheek media story mentions or interesting cultural references. It is neither preachy nor too touchy-feely but instead is a wonderful balance of all the things a marriage is: some ups, downs, worries, good times, cross words, touching speeches, advice, memories and, perhaps most importantly, hope. It’s now coming up to two years since I got married. I ordered my gown via the internet and decided to forego the full bridal experience of bridal shop, dress fittings etc. Despite not having had the experience, I can see the magic behind The Magic Room (in terms of both the book itself and the ‘magic’ room within the bridal store Beckers) and understand why it is so important to the people that frequent the store, the owners, the community. Don’t be lured into thinking this is ‘just’ a tale of a bridal store, though. The history of Beckers is, indeed, fascinating but even beyond that, this is a work that offers so very much more. **I received a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation. All views are my own.**
SincerelyStacie More than 1 year ago
I was extremely excited when I found out I had the opportunity to review this book. I loved both of Zaslow's previous books THE LAST LECTURE and THE GIRLS FROM AMES. I had a feeling I would love this one too, and I did. Zaslow wrote this in much the same style as THE GIRLS FROM AMES, giving each bride their own chapter and then coming back to them at the end with their follow-up story. Even though this is non-fiction, it reads smoothly and the emotion of each woman's story is the focus over the research studies that filter thoughout. I found all the history of brides, bridal dress shopping and familial relationships extremely interesting and made me think of my own dress shopping days. I myself had two bridal dress shopping days, one when I was 20 and one when I was 25. I never got to wear the first dress as I ended up breaking off the engagement, but the two shopping experiences were vastly different and reflected much of the research and experiences in the book. I am sure you will also reflect on both your dress shopping day and your wedding day as you read the stories in this book. I remember the dress I ended up with was one I never would have picked out, but once I put it on, the tears and the emotions were immediately there. It was THE ONE. What I also appreciated about this book was that even though it focuses on the bride, the dress and the big day, through the stories, it reminds you “It’s not just about the dress, the flowers, the reception. It’s about the man and the marriage and the life that will follow” (p. 256). Keep the tissue box close by as you travel through the stories in this book. Zaslow knew just whose stories to tell and you will want to know how each bride is doing after finishing the book. By going to the book website, you may be able to see updates and find other information about the book and the author. Even though I have finished the book, I know the marriages and lives featured in this story go on. I am praying all of them are blessed by the telling of their stories and their marriages are long, loving and strong.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was first drawn towards this book as I have a love for Bridal gown reality shows. What attracts me to them is the story behind the dress. The family, the bride, the groom, the personalities, the meaning of the marriage etc. So this book is not only about brides but it is also about the bridal gown business in a small town. The story line details a list of brides who come through the shop's doors, some of whom are back for a second time, or they are daughters of brides who purchased their gowns from the same shop many years before. Each story is unique, some tragic, other stories are inspiring and uplifting. The author details each bride in several chapters, and at times, I lost track of which one was the current subject. Beautifully written and detailed, this book will take you to a place you never really gave much of a thought to and you will think about those in your life who are brides, or will become brides.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy all of Jeffrey Zaslow's books, and The Magic Room did not disappoint. I love the way he mixed facts of weddings in general with the stories of the brides. Also rounding out all the bride's stories really made you feel a part of their weddings. I'm very sad that he will not get to walk his love3ly daughters down the isle, but I know they realize how special that time of life is through this book. He was a thoughtful author, gone too soon. He will be missed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For some reason I thought this was going to be a story, not a weird documentary about a wedding shop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michele1610 More than 1 year ago
This is a great group of individual stories, that flow along the common thread of the family that owns the shop. If you enjoy hearing interesting human interest type stories about regular (vs celebrities) people, you will probably like this book. Michele
PeggyPV More than 1 year ago
This book is well written and centers around a Bridal Shop and the women that sell and purchase bridal gowns. Their stories are as varied as their gowns. Very enjoyable for all women as this book deals with the varied ages and stories that about women about to start their marriages and all that entails.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book written for all those brides who will be brides or have been brides in the past.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BC13 More than 1 year ago
Story telling as only Jeffery Zaslow can deliver. The book contains a historical account of the bridal shop, Becker’s; legacy of how this shop started, and keeps going and will be remembered in the future. Tucked between the pages are the lives of brides who come to Becker’s Bridal Shop to purchase their gowns; it is so much more than just the dress. The brides life, their story is told ~ it brings you to that moment when “The” dress is tried-on in the magical room of mirrors and lights to “just knowing” not only that this is the gown, but that life has woven together up-to this moment. Be part of the treasure that this story contains; read it with a box of tissues close by and know at the end of the book, you will want to know what happens next to the brides, who stories have been tenderly revealed in ‘The Magic Room’.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stood in the Magic Room myself 39 years ago with my mother and cousin! I loved the family history and tales of so many different brides. This book helped me decover the author and I will be buying his other books. He will be missed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A refreashing story you cry and laugh while reading this I recommend it to every mother and father who have a daughter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago