Multnomah Books (April 13, 2010)
I must admit first off that I am not a baseball fan or historian yet I love historical novels so sort of wondered what this book might hold for someone with little practical knowledge of sports much less something as specific as baseball. I was left to wonder for but a short span once I opened up this entrancing story by an author who continues to grow in her craft with each new volume on her resume.
In Cleveland as the 20th century was quickly approaching, baseball was not just a man’s game and sports bars as we know them were nonexistent. While only men played the game and softball or women’s teams were as yet unimagined, women were starting to stand up and request the same respect and opportunity to contribute as men received. This of course, if precedence was any reference point should have been according to the merit each person displayed though gender was still a long time in passing that sticking point of being considered merit or lack thereof simply by its existence.
Women were starting to assert themselves by this time and demand the say that had been denied them all these centuries. This was not simply a matter of politics or even culture but women stepping forward and vocalizing their own dreams and desires to the world they were stifled by in the guise of protection and provision by the supposedly more capable. Amongst those women presenting their own point of view and desire for the chance to at least prove through practical application that they were just as capable as the men who placed them aside as simply another decoration were four sisters named Allenhouse. As the offspring of a doctor who became a single parent when the oldest was merely eight, these four girls had no choice but to manage themselves as best they were able and the eldest took on the traditional motherly role for her siblings but had no one to truly mother her and a toddler and infant to see to. By the time Lissette, the baby, was nearly 18 not much had changed other than the addition of a housekeeper / cook to manage meals and whatnot around the house for part of the week. When the Cleveland ball team is slated to compete against Brooklyn’s team, the Bridegrooms seem to overrun the town both literally and figuratively. In the first game of the series there in Cleveland, a young gentleman receives an unexpected assault by a stray ball and finds himself awaking to a houseful of women answering to his physician, Dr Allenhouse. What will this new infusion of eligible gentlemen carry in it’s wake for Cleveland and the young women of the town? Can four women raised with little feminine instruction decipher the world of love and romance or will they find themselves with a magnetic attraction to men who will only desert them leaving broken hearts and dreams strewn behind them? Will any of the “players” prove the word doesn’t define who they are off the diamond or not?
Be sure to read Pittman’s latest foray into a world where men reign and women barely rate a glance as decorations or trophies in public. Do the accomplishments of females rate nothing more than a token acknowledgement even if they rival or exceed the quality of those achieved by their male counterparts? In this day and age the answer to these questions will likely change though many still consider roles to be specific to a certain gender regardless of the capability of the person wishing to perform them. Vada and her sisters each have their own dilemmas as well as desires for lifelong companionship, trust, and romance. Pittman has delivered a rousing narrative with characters of depth and intelligence though in some cases appearance and truth may not agree. Again though I know little of the sport or even sports in general the baseball teams in this story simply serve as an instrument of delivering elements necessary to carry Pittman’s plot through the twists and contortions necessary to reach a satisfying and rather sneaky conclusion. Though I’d love to say so much more about The Bridegrooms, I must leave the remainder of the unraveling to the book itself. (ISBN#9781601421371, 352pp, $13.99)
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