Thomas Nelson (Jun 14, 2011)
Richmond has presented readers with a historical saga reminiscent of Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie with a more mature tone to it. Before I find you all knocking down my email with protests, mature, is used in this case to indicate a book that adults will enjoy for its depth and nuance. Thomas Nelson has not abandoned their faith-based, family friendly content however due to the situations and characters in this book it will likely not appeal to readers younger than high school due to a lack of content they would find interesting.
In many ways Richmond pens a typical historical romance yet has brought so much more to the table. Susannah’s life is turned topsy turvy as she is sent to become the bride of a homesteader in Dakota territory. Jesse, just happens to be her pastor’s brother but the resemblance ends there. Having been raised in what was then “the states” basically the eastern seaboard original colonies along with a few straggling territories that already established their statehood, women were expected to behave in a particular manner. Jesse however expects a much different role from his mail-order spouse. Having lived in the wilderness mostly alone except for a few creatures that populate his small claim and aid with the daily chores of life on the frontier he is desperate for a companion who will share thoughts, needs, and opinions even when they conflict with his. A best friend with whom he can have a lively and reciprocal relationship. After losing her parents Susannah was taken in by Jesse’s brother and sister-in-law, the latter being her closest friend. Though her father may have been unconventional in the sense of welcoming her assistance with his veterinary practice and instructing her along the way, her experience and education were otherwise quite the norm for civilized young women of the day. Breaking the societal constraints she has been indoctrinated by her entire life comes with a hesitancy Jesse struggles to understand. Though she would rather be anywhere else at first, she eventually discovers her own mind and flees the coop that accompanied her so many miles across the prairie along with her belongings. When Jesse finds that he must depart in an attempt to support his family and home, they both begin to realize their attachment to one another. In his absence, Susannah also develops her sense of self more fully and acquires the boldness and conviction Jesse could sense dammed up within her from their first encounter. During their many months apart a profusion of other transformations ensue both within and around the pair precipitated both as a result and in spite of their enforced breach. Rather than rending them further from the other this time of trial strengthens not only their bond with one another but their personal faith as well. (ISBN#9781595549242, 352pp, $15.99)