Friday, July 8, 2011

Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond

A story of emerging faith, love and renewal

From the Publisher

When Susannah goes to Dakota territory as a mail-order bride, she finds something she never dreamed she would-true love. 

With no prospects for marriage and her parents recently deceased, Susannah Underhill agrees to go west to the Dakota territory to marry her minister's homesteading brother, Jesse. But Susannah is painfully shy, doesn't see herself as worthy of love from either a husband or from God, and lives in constant fear that Jesse is going to ship her back to Detroit.

In spite of her petite size and the fact that Susannah doesn't look like she could survive on the prairie, Jesse quickly discovers that his new wife is a greater blessing than he even hoped for. The years she spent as her father's veterinary assistant allow her to save Jesse's ox and twin calves and to help neighboring farmers with their animals.

But Susannah's feelings of unworthiness are deeply rooted, and she can't believe that Jesse's praise-or the tenderness and love he shows-could possibly last. The thawing of her heart seems almost as distant as Spring in the midst of the winter blanketing the Dakota prairie.

My Take

Normally I’m not a fan of the historical romance novel but the description on Spring for Susannah intrigued me with the mail-order bride scenario.  It’s not your typical mail-order setting but more of a “last choice” option for Susannah.  She knew this was her last alternative to even hope for a husband and home.

Susannah had no idea what she was getting herself into when she got on that train going west. She assumed her new husband would have a home like she was accustomed to and she would take care of it and her husband as her mother taught her. What she did get, however, was nowhere near what she anticipated. 

Put yourself in her place—leaving everything & everyone you have known your entire life and going into a wilderness where there is limited access to food, farming materials, and even other human contact. Her mother’s teachings of the way a lady should act and project herself had no place in this new world and Susannah felt lost. I loved how patient and kind Jesse was with Susannah—having just met her, he tolerated her ineptitude around the house, her social constraints, and her lack of trust, with a faith that God will provide in time. 

Susannah’s lack of trust and faith slowly turns around with Jesse’s intervention and the way he lives his own life. Over time, their love grows and we even learn a little about their lives “behind closed doors” which is unusual for the typical Christian novel---don’t get me wrong, there are no sordid details but this time we actually know they share a physical relationship.

There were a few slow spots in the middle, almost as if repetition would fill the pages, but once I got past those the story picked back up and got back in the groove. Then at the end, I felt the book ended kind of abruptly as if it was getting too long or something.

For a introductory novel, Ms Richmond has done a fabulous job of getting the reader emotionally involved with the characters. I felt as if I was looking through a window actually watching the story—not just reading about it. I look forward to her next release. Overall, I’d give this a 4 out of 5 for the depth of characters and a new approach to the mail-order bride/historical fiction category.

This Book was provided by Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson in exchange for an unbiased review. The opinions expressed were my own.

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