Monday, April 19, 2010

SIXTEEN BRIDES, by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Sixteen Brides is a thoroughly engaging story of a group of Civil War widows who travel to Nebraska, lured by the prospect of free land. The premise for Sixteen Brides arose from an actual newspaper clipping in the Nebraska Historical Society archives, which made the plot even more fun for me.
Once the women arrive in Plum Grove, the last stop before their final destination in Cayote, they discover that they've been brought west as brides for the single men in the area. Not only that, the trip's organizer has already sold tickets for dances with the women when they arrive in Cayote.
For some of the sixteen widows, the thought of finding husbands is not unwelcome. But the others came strictly for the prospect of owning their own homestead land. The story follows those who stayed in Plum Grove as they sort out how they will settle on the nearly barren land.
Whitson has done a masterful job at juggling several points of view as we get to know each woman and some of the earlier settlers who have already made Plum Grove their home. By the time I'd finished the book, I was quite sure which lady was which from the depiction on the cover. The multiple story lines were resolved by the end of the story, with a few surprises. Whitson resisted the temptation to tie up each romance with a bow, and instead left some questions for the reader to fill in with their own imagination.
Sixteen Brides is a delightful story—one I’m happy to recommend.

Thanks to the author and Bethany House for providing my review copy.


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