Friday, May 07, 2010

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

rating: ***
publisher: Bethany House

Fans of Deanne Gist and Janette Oke will rejoice!

I really enjoyed Sixteen Brides. Like the Victorian novels I so greatly love, it had several strands of stories all taking place at the same time. Some subplots captivated me more than others; as did some characters and their plight for a happy ending.

Sixteen widows are deposited in Plum Grove, Nebraska. Each following Hamilton Drake's promise of land and freedom. Unbeknownst to them, Drake has marketed them as potential brides and their arrival sparks the interest of many bachelor settlers.

The toughest of the lot break with Drake and decide to forge their own path and destiny. Together in a sort of planned commune, they learn the hardships of uncharted territory and each work relentlessly at their new concept of home.

I really enjoyed the varying strengths of each women and the vital characteristics each embodied. Those seemingly feminine ( like the southern belle Caroline) had hidden reserves of strength; while the tenacious medical woman of the crew, Hettie, had a tender and heartbreaking past.

I must admit it was a little jumbled at the beginning as Whitson tried to set up each individual character; but as soon as I was lost in the story each thread was seen with more clarity.

My favourite story involved the stalwart widow Ruth ( as many recall my favourite Biblical character shares the same name ) and Lucas: a thick-skinned cowboy who is not what he seems. Their smart and sassy banter was one of the highlights of the novel.... as was Ruth's relationship with her teenage son.

A very breezy spring read with some interesting historical context and some literate moments involving a burly settler and a woman who never thought she would be find true love beyond her own faults and shortcomings.

My thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

Visit Stephanie Grace Whitson at her website

Order Sixteen Brides at amazon

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