Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Sixteen Brides

Title: Sixteen Brides
Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Pub Date: April 2010, Baker Publishing Group
Format: e-Book
Source: Downloaded as a free feature from


From Sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising "prime homesteads" in a "booming community." Unbeknownst to them, the speculator's true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledging community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival!

Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them. These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances--especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be.

My Thoughts

Though the synopsis has no mention of it, this book would qualify as Christian fiction, in my opinion, though it is certainly far from some of the "over-the-top" Christian fiction that I have read. There are strong references to God, prayer, and the Bible, so if Christian undertones are a deal-breaker, you have been forewarned.

While the story may be called Sixteen Brides, we are ultimately following the stories of about six of these women, which lessens the confusion a bit. Whitson admirably rotates through each woman's point of view throughout the book and once I really got into the story, I didn't find it too difficult to keep everyone straight, despite the fact that we are following so many different storylines. Each woman's background is unique and each woman has to face her own challenges and struggles.  I found that I felt a connection to many of them as their stories unfolded. How Whitson was able to successfully manage so many prominent characters is beyond me. Perhaps they were not as fully fleshed out as they could have been, but I'm willing to forgive that, given the sheer number of "main" characters we are talking about.

Each woman's story is heartwarming in its own way and I enjoyed watching the various romances unfold, some more quickly than others. In fact, by the end of the book, one of the romances has barely begun, leaving you wishing for more. Yet at the same time, knowing the young woman the way you do by the end of the book, it's just enough to leave you happy knowing what her future holds in store, even if you don't get to read about it. I also found there to be quite a few humorous scenes and exchanges that kept the book moving quickly for me.  All-in-all, while not perfect, I thought Sixteen Brides was a charming story without being overly preachy: a win-win in my book, and at the time I read it, it was just what I was looking for.  If you like historical fiction that is set in the western frontier and you can live with some underlying Christian themes that won't overwhelm you, I'd say it's worth giving Sixteen Brides a shot.

My rating:
4 stars

If you have reviewed this book, please feel free to leave a link in the comments section.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, as well!


  1. This one sounds good. I enjoy historical fiction from this era too. Have you read The Rebel Wife? I read it awhile back for review and really enjoyed it. You might want to check it out.

    Great review, Melissa!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation! I hadn't heard of The Rebel Wife but went to check it out and it sounds very intriguing! I will have to add it to my wish list :-)

  3. The subject matter does sound interesting. I have to admit I am terrible for seeing 'Christian fiction' and running the other way, but I have been trying to do better...

    1. Kailana, I used to feel the same way about Christian Fiction. Granted, I still don't like all of it -- particularly the ones where it's all about somebody having to be saved, converted, whatever. I REALLY hate it when they get into the whole thing about not being "unequally yoked" in their choice of marriage partner. For some reason, though I know it's in the Bible, in most Christian Fiction books that theme just annoys the heck out of me. I usually head toward books that could be called Historical Fiction and aren't as preachy. Lately I've been mostly lucky with the Christian Fiction books I've picked up.


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