Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Pub Date: April 2010, Baker Publishing Group
Source: Downloaded as a free feature from BN.com
From BN.com: 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.
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.
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!