The Wedding Veil
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 03/29/2022
My Rating: 5 Stars +++ (ARC)
FEATURED MARCH AUTHOR QA
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.
Available in Hardcover, Paperback, e-book, audiobook and audio CD format
Audio Narrators: Shannon McManus, Janet Metzger, Rebekkah Ross, and Megan Tusing
Publisher: Gallery Books | Simon & Schuster Audio
For Signed/Personalized Copies: M JUDSON BOOKS
About the Author
Kristy Woodson Harvey is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Under the Southern Sky, Feels Like Falling, and The Peachtree Bluff series. 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 work has been optioned for film and television, and 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.
Connect with Kristy
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Q&A Elevator Ride with
New York Times bestselling
author Kristy Woodson Harvey
"Behind the Book and the Author" #AuthorElevatorSeries
Exceptional Authors. Standout Books. Elevator Talk.
INTRIGUING QUESTIONS. INQUIRING READERS WANT TO KNOW
We are delighted to have you again for our third elevator ride following the previous interviews, Under the Southern Sky (2020) and The Southern Side of Paradise (2019). It is always an honor and pleasure to have you join us.
We are super excited about your first contemporary/historical fiction novel, THE WEDDING VEIL, out today! The cover is breathtaking, and we are thrilled to learn more about the four women across generations, bound by a beautiful wedding veil heirloom and a connection to the famous Vanderbilt family. You sure know how to make an “entrance” with grace and style. As you know, I adored this book with unique connections. You were meant to write this book. No one could have told it better. Plus, we always love catching up with you and all your latest exciting adventures.
Speaking of adventures, you had quite an exciting year since our last interview. You released not one but two books last year, Under the Southern Sky and Christmas in Peachtree Bluff. as well as working on The Wedding Veil. You truly made our Christmas holiday!
DRUMROLL: You are now a New York Times bestselling author (congrats) and one of our favorite Southern beach-read series; your Peachtree Bluff is getting a television series on NBC! (Our wishes have come true). Plus, your Friends and Fiction weekly show is booming in its second year, and you have an exciting multi-city “live” (not virtual) Book Tour scheduled. Finally, you’re a new mom to the adorable puppy, Salt! (That paw…) Readers, if you missed it, check out this IG-worthy cute family photo @gracebellphotography
Q. NEWEST FAMILY MEMBER: Ok, we are all falling in love with the adorable puppy, Salt we are seeing on social media. We are dying to know what prompted a puppy when you did not happen to be a “dog person” previously, and rumor has it that you may be thinking of a playmate for Salt. Do tell us about his personality and more!
KWH: This is going to sound weird, but do you remember that scene in Sex and the City where Charlotte sees Lily’s picture for the first time and she’s like, “That’s our baby?” I, the non-dog person, really didn’t want a dog at all, but my son was dying for one and my husband loves them, and I just knew I was going to have to give in eventually. He came home from work one day and said someone there had one puppy left. And I saw his picture and was like, That’s our puppy. I don’t know. That’s bizarre, but that’s how most of my decisions go!
Anyway, I’m obsessed with him. He’s really energetic and fun but also super cuddly and loving. His personality is… confident. He’s very confident, which cracks me up because he’s just twelve whole pounds of bravery. We are spoiled, though, because he’s such a great puppy! He slept through the night early on and responds to his commands pretty well. So we might have another puppy in our future but not quite yet.
Q. YEAR AT-A-GLANCE: It has been a challenging year with the pandemic; however, you have not let it slow you down one minute – what a whirlwind! Before we get into your new book, could you share any updates from Kristy’s world?
KWH: It has been quite a year! Somehow, despite the pandemic, I was able to go on driving book tours in the South for my last two books because they both came at a bit of a “lull” for Covid. And quite a few of those events were with my Friends & Fiction co-hosts Mary Kay Andrews, Kristin Harmel, and Patti Callahan Henry, so we had an absolute blast!
The Peachtree Bluff Series being developed with NBC is a huge highlight. And I got to co-write the pilot with a writer and the showrunner from Sweet Magnolias, which was a huge, fun surprise! We have been doing an addition on our house, which includes my dream office/library, and it is finally almost finished, so I’m thrilled about that. And, because we have been home so much, I’ve had tons of quality time with my husband and son (and Salt!), so that has been wonderful! Oh—and I just signed another two-book deal, so I’m very excited about that!
Congrats, Kristy! Wow! All this exciting news. Delighted for you. Now, let's dive into The Wedding Veil.
Q. INSPIRATION: The spark that ignited the novel? Where were you when the idea came to you?
KWH: I was putting a veil on my cousin’s head—the veil that I had worn, many members of my husband’s family had worn, and several friends had worn as well—before her wedding, and it occurred to me how the veil connected the many women who had worn it. As I so often do, I thought, That’s a book! My agent suggested I write about a real historical wedding veil, and while I loved the idea, I didn’t think I would be able to find one worn by a woman I was that interested in. But I knew I wanted to write about Edith Vanderbilt, so I did a random Google search and found out that her family wedding veil disappeared after her daughter Cornelia wore it. And I knew I had my story!
Q. Do you have a favorite room or part of Biltmore House, and why?
KWH: Oh, yes. I love the library, and it is a big part of the novel. George Vanderbilt was considered one of the best-read men in the world and Biltmore was considered to have one of the most extensive libraries. I also read all these ghost stories about how George would come back to Edith in the library, and I thought that was so romantic. I don’t know that I really believe that, but it makes for a nice story!
Q. RESEARCH: This novel must have required extensive research. Can you share more about this process and anything fascinating that you learned along the way?
KWH: I pictured myself in library stacks, doing interviews and burning up an annual pass to Biltmore. But I started writing this book in… March 2020. So obviously that wasn’t the case. Instead, I bought every book I could find—including Biltmore cookbooks. Literally everything—and I’m pretty sure I have read every time in history the names “Edith Vanderbilt” or “Cornelia Vanderbilt” have ever appeared in a newspaper. Newspapers.com is awesome! I was also very fortunate to have a couple Biltmore experts—and some rockstar librarians—help me along the way, including one at UNC who walked me through some really special ways to use newspapers.com to get more in-depth results. By the time I could actually go back to Biltmore in real life, I had a first draft, and that was actually really great because I could use my time fact-checking, clarifying details, and adding colorful little anecdotes I learned from guides. But I already knew my story, so all’s well that ends well!
Kristy, this is not your first book with dual timelines and multi-generational characters with a blending of contemporary and historical. Back in 2016, with Lies and Other Acts of Love (a favorite), you featured an unforgettable character, Lovey (grandmother), and her past as well as her granddaughter, Annabelle. However, THE WEDDING VEIL is the first historical/contemporary based on live events/characters— Biltmore and the Vanderbilt family. Once again, you are giving readers a wise, funny, relatable, and strong grandmother influence in Babs for granddaughter, Jules. I know we have touched on this previously that family is important to you with strong ties. We all wish we had a Babs/Lovey person in our lives.
Q. MULTI-GENERATIONAL: What draws you to multi-generational characters and strong grandmothers/granddaughter relationships?
KWH: I am so close with my family, and I grew up with my grandparents right down the street. My grandmother is still one of my most favorite people in all the world. (My grandfather passed away two years ago, but he was too, obviously!) I am endlessly fascinated by the ways in which the people who came before influence who we are today, and I love seeing how different generations handle similar problems in different ways. But there’s just something about that grandmother/granddaughter relationship that is so special to me. I’m so lucky to have such a great one in my own life!
Q. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: What phenomenal character development! Not only do you have the contemporary cast of characters, but there is also the historical based on actual people and events. What was your favorite character to write and/or your most challenging?
KWH: Cornelia was maybe the most challenging because she has a real-life story that not everyone is going to relate to in the end. I worked very hard at ensuring that, even though people might not understand her choices, they could at least empathize with why she is making them. She is a bright, bold, brilliant, and fascinating woman, and I wanted to capture her in all her facets, so I probably worked hardest on her. Edith, I felt like I “knew” right away. She is steadfast, forward-thinking, and unfailingly generous, so she was a joy to write. But Cornelia’s capriciousness definitely adds an exciting element. I adore Julia in her youthful naivete and the fact that she has so much ahead of her, but, well… Babs might be my favorite. She’s spunky and wise and refuses to let other’s opinions define what will be some of the best years of her life. I truly love her!
THANK YOU, Kristy, for spending time with us today!
KWH: Thank you so much, Judy, as always, for a thoughtful, insightful interview and for sharing my work with your wonderful readers. I’m so grateful, and I hope everyone enjoys THE WEDDING VEIL as much as I loved writing it!
Readers, be sure and check out Kristy’s Book Tour HERE and join her in a city near you. Buy links above and book details. Now for more juicy facts —"behind the author" with a fun elevator ride. Do not miss her "first kiss." 😘
Give Us Your Best Elevator Pitch
The Wedding Veil
KRISTY: It’s 1914 and George Vanderbilt has just died unexpectedly. His wife Edith and daughter Cornelia vow to not only save his great life’s work, Biltmore House, but also to uphold his legacy. But when the two start to have differing opinions, the future of their beloved home and their family are called into question. In the present day, Grandmother Babs is about to place her family’s prized wedding veil on her granddaughter Julia’s head when Julia realizes that, if she gets married, she will be the one to sully the lucky reputation of the family wedding veil. She flees the church—with her grandmother driving the getaway car—and both grandmother and granddaughter find themselves at huge crossroads in their lives where they have to decide whether to move forward or stay stuck in the past.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT WHERE YOU RESIDE?
I live in a little coastal town (the inspiration for my Peachtree Bluff Series!) and I just love everything about it, from being on the water all the time to the friendly people to living in a downtown where we can walk to the greatest restaurants and shops.
Chocolate and Champagne!
Definitely, definitely night.
DOG/CAT LOVER? (a loaded question) 😊
I love them both, but we have a new puppy, and I’m obsessed with him, so let’s go with dog for now!
YOUR FAVORITE LIFE LESSON QUOTE?
Leap and the net will appear!
IF YOU WERE STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR ALONE WITH ONE CELEBRITY, AUTHOR, OR CHARACTER— WHO WOULD IT BE? (Male or Female)
Reese Witherspoon! I think we’d have a lot to chat about, and, let’s be honest, I’d be trying to figure out what she wants for her next book club pick and writing it.
FAVORITE HOLIDAY OR SEASON?
I love Christmas, but I live for summer!
FAVORITE READING FORMAT?
FAVORITE TV SERIES? (Or Movie/Video) binge-watch, series, etc.?
MOST MEMORABLE PLACE YOU HAVE TRAVELED?
Well, I write about a boat trip in the British Virgin Islands in THE WEDDING VEIL, and I have to say my honeymoon—on a boat in the British Virgin Islands, although not nearly as large as the one in the book—was pretty fantastic!
IF YOU WERE GRANTED 3 MONTHS OF UNINTERRUPTED WRITING TIME—WHERE WOULD IT BE?
1. A Busy Urban City
2. A Quiet Scenic Mountain Cabin surrounded by nature
3. A Coastal Seaside Cottage
4. An Exotic Tropical Island
5. A Countryside Farmhouse surrounded by animals and organic gardens.
6. A charming, quaint historic Bed and Breakfast Inn
7. A Scenic Hunting Lodge
8. A Nostalgic Lake House – only because I’m writing a book right now that I think would lend itself best to a nostalgic lake house!
9. A Writer's Retreat
A WISE MESSAGE OR ADVICE FROM YOUR GRANDMOTHER?
This too shall pass.
HAVE YOU EVER CRIED AT A MOVIE?
I cried so much during Marly and Me that I almost couldn’t leave the theater. Then I cried every time I thought about it for like a week after.
NAME OF YOUR FIRST KISS?
This is hilarious. Chad Habeeb. I was in seventh grade, he was in eighth. He was my first “real” boyfriend. (And I’m so curious to see if I get emails about this! Haha!)
A SMELL YOU LOVE?
Gardenias when they’re blooming in the yard.
TRUTH OR DARE?
Truth. I wish it were dare.
WHAT ARE YOU FREAKISHLY BAD AT?
Art. Like so bad.
WHEN THINGS BREAK, DO YOU PREFER TO FIX THEM OR REPLACE THEM?
This is a really excellent and interesting question. I’m a replacer because I feel like the first break is often just paving the way for a few more and then I’ve spent more fixing than replacing! Although, this doesn’t apply to antiques or heirlooms or anything irreplaceable.
THE FUNNIEST ONE STAR REVIEW YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED AND NAME OF THE BOOK?
I got a great one for Under the Southern Sky that basically said I had made up the “Southern” parts of the book, especially about the meddling Southern mothers and the sweet tea. Um… I can take a lot of criticism, but don’t tell me I don’t know Southern mothers and sweet tea! Haha!
FAVORITE TYPE OF WORKOUT?
Spin class and barre are tied for first.
BOOKS YOU LOVED AS A KID THAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER?
I was a huge Roald Dahl fan, especially of Matilda. But I think the first time I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (I think I was in fourth grade.) something new clicked for me.
IF YOU COULD HAVE A TV SERIES OR MOVIE ADAPTED BASED ON ONE OF YOUR BOOKS (in addition to the Peachtree Bluff Series), WHICH ONE WOULD IT BE?
Under the Southern Sky. I just love that one, and I’ve always “seen” it on the screen.
Thank you, Kristy. So much fun—You are the BEST!
"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
"Bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey will undoubtedly knock this out of the park."
—Zibby Owens, Katie Couric Media
"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
"A legendary wedding veil ties several women together across the generations in Kristy Woodson Harvey's heartfelt latest, which features a runaway bride, her spirited grandmother, and a new love in the present day, interspersed with a historical storyline that follows Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt, the mistresses of the Biltmore Estate in the early 20th century, as they struggle to keep their famed home afloat. 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. A sparkling, fast-paced joy of a book that celebrates love, family and the right to shape one's own destiny."
—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 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. When Julia Baxter is ready to don the fabled family veil and walk down the aisle, she begins to question its mythological influence. Where did the veil and its power originate, and what could it possibly mean for her family and her love? 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. She skillfully blends narratives from Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt and their struggles in the years after the passing of their beloved husband and father, George Vanderbilt together with modern-day narratives of Babs and Julia Baxter, a grandmother and granddaughter on the precipice of major life changes. 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
Exquisite! Her best yet.
A favorite Southern master storyteller and NYT bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey makes her entrance with grace and style with her first contemporary/historical fiction (inspired by real people and historical events) with THE WEDDING VEIL
The stunning inviting front cover with the elegant and iconic Biltmore House is a breathtaking backdrop for the four women across generations bound by a wedding veil heirloom and its connection to the famous Vanderbilt family. Yet, the story is much more. The author brilliantly explores the lives of these women and how they are shaped and connected.
Dual Timelines | Present Day:
Julie Baxter is preparing for her upcoming wedding to Hayes on the Biltmore House grounds, and her Grandmother, Babs (love), has passed down the family heirloom wedding veil for good luck. There is a lot of pressure surrounding this veil. When something occurs right before the wedding, that sends her running (rightly so and keeping her from making the biggest mistake of her life), her Grandmother Babs is there to drive the getaway car. (so much fun) Julia must do some soul searching about her life, future, past, and architectural career.
We then are transported to the picturesque British Virgin Islands, where Julie was to go on her honeymoon and now travels alone. She meets Connor (love), learns some hard facts about herself, and needs the courage to re-do her past and future separate from Hayes.
Not only does Julia, her Grandmother Babs also has some difficult decisions to make. Her husband has passed, and she decides to go into assisted living. An old flame comes back into her life, she must decide if she wants to open her heart again for the future, no matter what others may say. Is she too old to experience love again?
Jules and Babs have a special relationship and love the letters between the two are charming. Kristy has a way with words, and you can tell she values family and has had some wise, strong women in her life.
Past 1879 I adore this history.
If you know the history of the Vanderbilt's (Edith and George), you get to experience seeing and living at Biltmore through their eyes, to this iconic massive 250 room Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. George dies young, and Edith is left with this enormous house, employees, businesses, grounds, expenses, and upkeep on her own with a young daughter Cornelia.
Edith (love) is strong and courageous and thinks of ideas to keep George's legacy and some parts with her in the famous library (my favorite room) talking to his ghost.
As time moves on, Cornelia is grown, married, and has a family of her own, yet she wants a different life than Biltmore. Often we have to be brave enough to make our own decisions and not what our parents or family has planned. In order to keep up the financial end of Biltmore, they must open up the house for tours during trying times, and Cornelia has a hard time wrapping her head around it. She wants something different.
Then there is the ongoing mystery of the wedding veil, which keeps you turning the pages about how these families are connected. She balances emotion, loss, pain, love, history, and humor for an unforgettable story and characters that come alive on the page.
In THE WEDDING VEIL, Kristy masterfully explores how four generations of women bring their own personal histories to a family heirloom wedding veil. This beautiful and poignant novel evokes what invisible threads bind us and at the same time gives us the strength to make our own decisions of self-discovery.
Meticulously researched, a perfect blending of past and present, and fact and fiction. Each timeline was equally as compelling.
I enjoyed Kristy's author's note, research, and the inspiration behind the book. A poignant and deeply moving novel about how a wedding veil can define a family and how a family can lovingly reinvent itself.
While this is not her first book with dual timelines and multi-generational characters with a blending of contemporary and historical. Back in 2016, with Lies and Other Acts of Love (another favorite), she features an unforgettable character, Lovey (Grandmother), and her past as well as her granddaughter, Annabelle.
However, THE WEDDING VEIL is the first historical/contemporary based on live events/characters— Biltmore and the Vanderbilt family. Once again, she creates a wise, funny, relatable, and strong grandmother influence in Babs for granddaughter, Jules. We all wish we had a Babs/Lovey person in our lives.
MOVIE-WORTHY! This book would make for a spectacular movie or tv series. I would also love a sequel to catch up with Connor/Julia and Miles/Babs and more about the enigmatic Cornelia and her life after leaving Biltmore and her three husbands. The minute I finished reading, I had to email Kristy.
Being an NC native, I adore Biltmore, rich in history and charm, and where I spent my first honeymoon (Grove Park Inn Asheville) and toured Biltmore and my second honeymoon in the Virgin Islands.
I am a massive fan of the author and cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. Since her debut, I have read every book, and fans of Emily Giffin, Patti Callahan, Therese Fowler, Brenda Janowitz, and Diane Chamberlain will love this one. Kristy will be the next Reece Witherspoon, I predict.
I am honored to be mentioned with all the other fine women in the book and am so grateful. Assured to be a big hit for readers of contemporary and historical.
A special thank you to the author and #GalleryBooks and the author for a gifted print ARC to read, enjoy, and review. Of course, I pre-ordered the hardcover copy as well. Cannot wait to get it today.
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 +++
Pub Date: March 29, 2022