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.
Harvey follows Under the Southern Sky with a satisfactory account of a wedding veil shared by two families. In present-day North Carolina, Julia Baxter is preparing for her fairy tale wedding, which is made complete by the veil passed down in her family as a symbol of eternity. But when she receives a text with a video showing her fianc cheating on her, Julia calls off the wedding and decides to go on her honeymoon to the British Virgin Islands alone. Though the wedding veil is an heirloom, its provenance before Julia's great-grandmother passed it down to Julia's grandmother Babs is murky. A parallel narrative follows the independently minded Cornelia Vanderbilt, who grows up at Asheville's Biltmore estate and loses her mother's wedding veil after her wedding in 1924. After Julia and Babs visit an exhibition showing a reproduction of Cornelia's veil, Julia wonders if hers might have been the Vanderbilts' and later learns of a tenuous connection between the families. Though it lacks the emotional power of Harvey's best work and passages devoted to the Vanderbilts' lavish history can drag, 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 despite some rough patches. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, Book Group.