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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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 reflections 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 step-mothers, 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. Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow tells their true stories using a reporter’s research and a father’s heart.

The stories Zaslow shares from within the Magic Room are at times joyful, at times heart- breaking, and offers with insights 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781536626759
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 12/01/2016
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey Zaslow is a Wall Street Journal columnist and the New York Times bestselling author of The Girls from Ames. He co-authored Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger and The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch.


West Bloomfield, MI

Date of Birth:

October 6, 1958

Date of Death:

February 10, 2012

Place of Birth:

Philadelphia, PA


B.A., Creative Writing, Carnegie Mellon University, 1980

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


As a journalist, and as the father of three girls, I often find myself drawn by an urge to explore the bonds between parents and daughters. In all the books I've written, this has been a powerful theme.

When I coauthored The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch, his youngest child, Chloe, was not yet two years old. I saw how desperately Randy wanted to leave her whatever wisdom he could. He wished he had 20 years to offer her advice, but he had just a few months, because he was dying of pancreatic cancer. His legacy would be the words in the book.

I later coauthored Highest Duty, the memoir of pilot "Sully" Sullenberger, who famously landed a crippled jet in New York's Hudson River. He and I spent a lot of time talking about his love for his two teen-aged daughters, and his regrets about missing so much of their lives while he was away from home, flying passengers to their destinations.

Most recently, I collaborated with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, on their memoir, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope. The congresswoman had been shot in the head in an assassination attempt, and I saw the great power in parental love. Gabby spent several weeks in a medically induced coma, and her mom kept a vigil at her bedside. "I feel like my breathing is helping Gabby breathe," her mother told me. "I just want to share the air in the room, like maybe my breath will sustain her."

I've seen equally poignant parent-daughter bonds in the relationships of the less-well-known people I've written about.

For The Girls from Ames, I profiled ten women, now in their mid-forties, who grew up together in Ames, Iowa. The book was focused on their forty-year friendship, but I was also moved by the women's relationships with their parents as they were growing up. In an early scene in the book, one of the Ames girls was about to go out of town to college, and she was crying because she feared she'd miss her parents.

"Here's what we'll do," her father told her. "We're going to keep you at the end of our fishing line. And if you ever need anything, you just give a little tug and we'll reel you back in."

Working on all of those books - observing again and again the power of parental affection - led me to my latest project. I wanted to write a nonfiction narrative reflecting on the love we all wish for our daughters. My girls are now ages 22, 20 and 16, and I know they will continue to need love in their lives - from me, my wife, each other, and someday I hope, from their husbands and children. How could I address all of the feelings that parents like me have?

I recognized that I needed a place to set this new book, a place with great emotion. I considered many possibilities. Maybe I'd visit maternity wards, dance studios, daddy-daughter date nights, or spas where mothers and daughters go to bond. But then my wife suggested I find a bridal shop. Maybe that would be a place to set my story.

"There's something about a wedding dress..." she said.

She was definitely on to something.

I was willing to go anywhere in the country to find the right store and the right stories. My search ended in the tiny, one-stoplight town of Fowler, Mich., a place with just 1,100 residents — and 2,500 wedding dresses. It has more bridal gowns per capita than anywhere in the United States.

Fowler is home to Becker's Bridal, a 77-year-old institution on Main Street. It's been run for all those years by the same family - a great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and daughter.

The store is housed in a stone structure that was once a bank, and since 1934, more than 100,000 brides have made a pilgrimage here. After they select the dress they think might be "the one," they're invited to step inside what used to be the old bank vault. A ten-foot-by-eight-foot space with mirrors designed to carry a bride's image into infinity, it's called "The Magic Room," and with good reason. Brides and their parents routinely melt into tears there, as they reflect on all the moments that led them to that dress, that room, that moment.

And so I set out to write a book about the brides and their parents who've stepped into that special space. The book is titled The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters.(

I focused the book on six brides and their families whose paths to Becker's Bridal were not necessarily easy, but who have given great thought to the love that guides and connects them. I felt privileged standing in the Magic Room with these families whose stories touched me the most, and while there, contemplating my feelings for my own daughters.

People often ask me what my books have in common. I've come to realize that they are all about the same thing — love. For every book I've written, I've brought a reporter's instincts, but also a father's heart. In many respects, The Magic Room is a culmination of a great many feelings swirling inside of me.

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