cover image 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

Jeffrey Zaslow. Gotham, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-592-40661-6

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 $680 to $2,600 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.)