SPRING FOR SUSANNAH
Hundreds of miles from home, Susannah faces an uncertain future as a mail-order bride on the untamed Dakota prairie.
When her parents die suddenly and no suitors call, Susannah resigns herself to the only option available: becoming a mail-order bride. Agreeing to marry her pastor's brother, Jesse, Susannah leaves the only home she's ever known for the untamed frontier of the Dakota territories.
Her new husband is more loving and patient with her than she believes she deserves. Still, there is also a wildness to him that mirrors the wilderness surrounding them. And Susannah finds herself constantly on edge. But Jesse's confidence in her -- and his faith in God's perfect plan - slowly begin to chip at the wall she hides behind.
When she miscarries in the brutal Dakota winter, Susannah's fledgling faith in herself and in God begins to crumble. Still, Jesse's love is unwavering. Just when it seems like winter will never end, Susannah finally sees the first tentative evidence of spring. And with it, the realization that more than the landscape has changed.
She looks to the future with a renewed heart. Yet in her wildest dreams, she couldn't predict all that awaits.
I adored the Little House books when I was a kid. I read the whole series every year right into my teens. I became obsessed with all things pioneers to the point that I made all my dolls pioneer dresses and nearly set the house on fire when I tried to yellow letters from my grandmother in the oven so I could pretend I was a pioneer girl getting mail from the old country. I searched the library shelves for pioneer stories like the ones penned by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but though a few came close (like Caddie Woodlawn), the Little House books were in a league of their own.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I've discovered a grown-up Little House book. My child's heart is singing even as my adult one is swooning. LOL. This is an amazing read and I'm not quite sure that I will be able to do it justice with this review but I aim to try.
Incredible characterization -- and dynamics! Jesse has me all but swooning one second and then wheezing with laughter the next. He's larger than life with his grandiose gestures and loose tongue that spouts the most surprising things! He's earnest and loves God and delights in his farm, the land...in his wife who he has determined to love before he ever set eyes on her! He'd be perfect if he wasn't so exasperating at times and a little titched in the head. I swear he's ADD.
Each chapter in the book starts out with a quote -- from Jesse. An intimate glimpse into the man's conversations with God. My favourite: "Your idea about becoming one flesh, God -- it's the best."
By contrast Susannah is timid and shy and contained, so terrified of not meeting expectations that she almost sets herself up for failure. But deep in the core of her being the real Susannah is yearning to be let out and Jesse's just the man to set her free. His unflagging attempts to draw her out of her shell so that he can get to know her -- his insistence that she have an opinion, that she make her own decisions -- his pride in her accomplishments -- his delight in the surprises he uncovers -- well, let's just say this was an incredible read from beginning to end. Definitely a book to savor.
Richmond has captured the essence of the pioneer spirit. Susannah's personal journey is inspiring, especially when you realize that the hardships she endured are the exact ones our ancestors faced over a hundred years ago. Homesteading the west was not for the faint of heart!
You might have noted the controversy in other reviews regarding some of the romantic content in Spring for Susannah. Frankly I am surprised by them. Jesse and Susannah are already married at the beginning of the story and we witness the development of that relationship. There is absolutely nothing untoward in anything Richmond has written, but she does reference the fact that their union involves intimacy. These scenes are filled with tenderness and humour and I find it difficult to understand how they might offend a reader. To my mind they bring a greater depth to the story.
Spring for Susannah is a rich, robust epic pioneer tale that well stay with you long after finish reading the last page. Definitely not a book to miss this summer. So...
Giveaway Opportunity: If you would like to win a copy of Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond please leave a comment below. Or if blogger is still giving you fits, email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca and let me know you would like to be in the draw. Winner will be announced on Sunday July 31. Open internationally.