Thursday, June 09, 2011

Book Review: Spring for Susannah, by Catherine Richmond

To me, one of the marks of a good book is when you continue thinking about the characters and story even after you've finished reading it. Spring for Susannah was such a book for me. The story is set in the late 1800s, not too long after the end of the Civil War. Susannah Underhill, a young woman from Detroit, has lost both her parents and has no suitors. When her pastor's bachelor brother Jesse writes from Dakota territory, asking if his brother can think of someone who would make a good bride for him, Susannah is recommended. After being married "by proxy" (because there are no preachers in Jesse's area), Susannah travels by train to Dakota and begins her new life as a mail-order bride.

Over their first year of marriage, Susannah and Jesse grow closer through tragedies and triumphs. Susannah has to learn how to make do with little, confide in her husband (something most difficult for her, since she is somewhat introverted and lacks confidence), and deal with the hardships of life on the prairie. Little by little she comes out of her shell and gains confidence in her own abilities and in Jesse's unconditional love for her. When grasshoppers destroy all of their crops, she and Jesse face a difficult separation and she learns to find her strength in God.

I really enjoyed this book for the most part, and I liked how "real" Jesse and Susannah seemed. Jesse was a lot of fun--I really enjoyed his personality, and I could relate to Susannah in many ways also. The last third of the book was a little harder to get through, as Jesse and Susannah were separated for many months and the storyline divided to follow what was happening to each of them. Many new characters came into the story at that point, Susannah ended up back and forth between the homestead and their small town, and it was just more confusing and not quite as enjoyable as the first two thirds of the book. I did enjoy seeing how Susannah became a strong and confident woman during that time, but I just wish the author could have found a different way to accomplish that--with the main characters together. :) I also felt the ending was rather sudden--I would have loved to see a few more chapters . . . maybe also an epilogue . . . to wrap things up a bit more. Maybe the author was just leaving it open for a sequel--I hope so, as I would personally love to read more about Jesse and Susannah.

One thing I want to note--there was quite a bit of marital intimacy throughout the first part of the book--more than I have normally seen in Christian fiction. It was portrayed in a beautiful and positive light, but it was there, nonetheless--so I would definitely not recommend this book for young girls.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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