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


The New York Times bestselling author of The Girls from Ames shares an intimate look at a small-town bridal shop, its multigenerational female owners, and the love between parents and daughters as they prepare for their wedding day.

Thousands of women have stepped inside Becker’s Bridal, in Fowler, Michigan, to try on their dream dresses in the Magic Room, a special space with soft lighting, a circular pedestal, and mirrors that carry a bride’s image into infinity. The women ...

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

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The New York Times bestselling author of The Girls from Ames shares an intimate look at a small-town bridal shop, its multigenerational female owners, and the love between parents and daughters as they prepare for their wedding day.

Thousands of women have stepped inside Becker’s Bridal, in Fowler, Michigan, to try on their dream dresses in the Magic Room, a special space with soft lighting, a circular pedestal, and mirrors that carry a bride’s image into infinity. The women bring with them their most precious expectations about romance, love, fidelity, permanence, and tradition. Each bride who passes through has a story to tell—one that carried her there, to that dress, that room, that moment.

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 four generations, Becker’s has witnessed transformations in how America views the institution of marriage: some of the shop’s clientele are becoming stepmothers, some are older brides, some are pregnant. Shop owner Shelley has a special affection for all the brides, hoping their journeys will be easier than hers. Jeffrey Zaslow weaves their true stories using a reporter’s research and a father’s heart.

The lessons Zaslow shares from within the Magic Room are at times joyful, at times heartbreaking, and always with insight on marriage, family, and the lessons that parents—especially mothers—pass on to their daughters about love. Weaving together secrets, memories, and family tales, The Magic Room explores the emotional lives of women in the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

“Zaslow captures the joy, hope, love and magic.” (Top Pick)
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.
“Zaslow captures the joy, hope, love and magic.”
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592407415
  • Publisher: Gotham
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 564,676
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Zaslow

Jeffrey Zaslow was a columnist for The Wall Street Journal and author of the New York Times bestseller The Girls from Ames. He was coauthor with Chesley Sullenberger on Highest Duty; with Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband on Gabby; and with Randy Pausch on The Last Lecture, the number one bestseller.


Jeffrey Zaslow is one of a handful of journalists who have carved successful careers out of the human side of reportage. In 1987, while working for the Wall Street Journal, he learned of a competition sponsored by the Chicago Sun-Times to replace retired advice columnist Ann Landers. Seeking an angle for a feature story, he entered the contest and ended up winning the job over a field of more than 12,000 applicants. He worked for the Sun Times from 1987 until 2001, dispensing sage, common-sense advice and using his journalistic influence to benefit several charities and community causes.

Zaslow has returned to writing for Wall Street Journal, but his features, unlike those of his colleagues, are not centered on the world of finance. In an award-winning column called "Moving On," he chronicles the often emotionally charged human interest stories behind various life transitions -- from marriage to divorce and from career change to retirement. It was in pursuit of just such a story that he found his greatest fame.

In 2007, Zaslow learned about an unusual event to be held at his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University. A computer science professor named Randy Pausch was scheduled to take part in a popular series of campus talks that invites teachers to present hypothetical "last lectures" to their students. But, what made this talk different was the total absence of hypothesis: Recently diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer. Pausch was, indeed, addressing the student body for the last time. Zaslow attended the jam-packed lecture and wrote about it in his column, helping to fuel worldwide interest and an Internet phenomenon. Pausch and Zaslow collaborated on The Last Lecture, a book-length narrative that served not just as a compendium of life lessons, but as a moving testimony to Pausch's optimism and courage. The book was published in April of 2008 and became an international bestseller. Pausch died three months later.

After Pausch's death, Zaslow returned to a project he had spent many months pursuing: the biography of an extraordinary, enduring friendship among 11 women who had grown up together in the American Midwest. Revelatory, inspiring, and shot through with the optimism and emotional resonance that distinguishes all of Zaslow's writing, The Girls from Ames was published in April of 2009.

Good To Know

Some fun outtakes from our interview with Jeffrey Zaslow:
"I sold hot dogs for 4 years in college in the stands at Philadelphia Phillies games."

"When I was an advice columnist in Chicago, I hosted a singles party for charity every fall. We'd have 7,000 attendees a year, and 78 marriages resulted."

"I had never been to Ames, Iowa, before I began reporting The Girls From Ames."

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    1. Hometown:
      West Bloomfield, MI
    1. Date of Birth:
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, PA
    1. Education:
      B.A., Creative Writing, Carnegie Mellon University, 1980

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 25, 2013

    It had a story to tell but honestly I kept waiting for the book

    It had a story to tell but honestly I kept waiting for the book to get going into some depth. I would not recommend it for the money I paid. too bad you cannot lend it.

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