182 of 186 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2010
It is 1872 and sixteen women are lured to Nebraska with the promise of free land, independence, and an opportunity to start over after the devastating loss of their husbands. What they find when they arrive in Plum Grove, Nebraska is a story of hope, new beginnings, forgiveness, and love.
I found the book easy to read but hard to put down, as chores and meals were pushed aside to follow the stories of these brides to the end of the book.
Stephanie Grace Whitson always produces good writing as she carries you along on the journey with these women. Based on historical facts, she weaves the stories of these brides into the landscape of the prairie of Nebraska that leaves one at the end of the story with a nod and sigh of satisfaction.
93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2010
Sixteen women, widowed by the war, are enticed by the promises of free land in the Nebraska territory. All they have to do is live on the land for five years. Since they all have things they want to escape, they catch the train with the land agent, and go west. But then they discover that all is not as it seemed. The land agent had collected money from men and promised that these war widows would be their brides.
Seven of these women had no intentions of being anyone's bride. They'd come west for the land. And they were determined to make it work. With Ella's planning, they devised a plan where they could all stay together and yet form four different homesteads.
There these seven women make their stakes on the land and on the hearts of the town. As they struggle to survive in an unforgiving land, will they find more than what they came for?
SIXTEEN BRIDES is by far the best historical I've read by Ms. Whitson. I totally loved this story, the seemingly seamless way the points of view of five women and two men were woven into it and excitement that lit the pages.
All of these characters were touched by death, yet the deaths were not portrayed in the pages of the book. The characters were ready to move on, to battle the demons that tormented them, and to start making changes in their lives. I really enjoyed this book, and if you are looking for a good historical, then you won't want to miss SIXTEEN BRIDES. It is a wonderful read.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2010
One of my favorite kind of books! HISTORICAL! YAY! I absolutely loved this book! Although, I must say, in the beginning, keeping up with SIXTEEN women was rather overwhelming. But, by the end of the story, I wasn't quite so overwhelmed and was truly pleased with this after-war story.
Stephanie Grace Whitson has just became an author that I have add to my favorites list. She has true talent and researched enough to make this story feel real. I felt as though I was a war widow, stepping into a whole new town for a whole new adventure. I was captured from the beginning and quickly befriended all these amazing brides, and I was held til the very last page. This was a simple read, though, as I said, a bit overwhelming in the beginning. The author created a story full of humor, charm, wit, and God in such a way that, even though in the beginning there were so many different characters, it wasn't jumpy or confusing.
I highly recommend this book with 5 stars, especially if you love historicals and well created characters. I will be looking forward to many more books by Stephanie!
Many thanks to Bethany House and CFBA for my review copy!
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2012
I didn't have an issue with the Scripture references, and the story certainly looked promising. But three chapters of bogus Southern dialect (our heroine being a Southerner) gave me the ominous feeling that I'd be plowing through an entire book of somebody trying to write like a Southerner sounds. And that, folks, was just too tedious a prospect to bear. It seems to me that you could easily establish Southern credentials for a character by mentioning her native state and (since this was a period piece), the fact that she had grown up on a plantation. Writing in that kind of dialect is insulting to the character, not to mention to people who actually speak with the accent in question. Even Margaret Mitchell didn't make Scarlett O'Hara talk like that for an entire book. I hope this author never writes about Native Americans--she will have them saying "Ugh" and "How" all the time. Sigh.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2010
It took awhile to get into this book but after a few chapters it became an easy read. I liked the characters and enjoyed getting to know them, but I felt the last few chapters were incredibly rushed and hectic (nothing like the easy pace the rest of the book traveled at.) I was actually upset when I read the last page as I didn't feel like every story had been nicely wrapped up. I think this would have made a great series, but as a stand alone novel it leaves you wanting.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2010
It took a few chapters for me to get into Sixteen Brides...but once I did I loved it. I think the title is a bit misleading as the story is not about 16 women but rather eight courageous, strong and determined women.
Eight ladies are brought together under the misrepresentation that they would be traveling to a different state to obtain land under their own name. The book, set in 1871, is a wonderful example of how women were not considered equals during this era. As women we were meant to be seen and not heard....so for a woman to even think about owning land was almost unheard. Needless to say when the opportunity arose for these ladies to claim their own homestead...they were eager to do so. Each lady had her own reasons for signing up and as the stories progress you learn more about their choices.
Along the route to the original destination the sixteen ladies discover that they are not going to their planned destination to claim homesteads but were rather are going to be offered as Widow-brides. Apparently a practice that was very common in the early 1800's
Of the 16 original ladies...8 chose to stay in Plum Grove, Nebraska rather then make the trip to become a strangers' bride. They came for land and land they intended to claim. This unlikely group of women quickly formed a bond and became a makeshift family. As the story unfolds so does each of the ladies' personal life stories and you find yourself drawn to each one.
I loved each of the colorful personalities of the 8 ladies that chose to forge their own destiny rather then waiting for a man to do it for them. But, I was most drawn to the beautiful Southern Belle, Caroline, and the pretty and gutsy, Ruth. Caroline is painted as a typical Southern Belle but she has courage, determination and gumption that was not typical of the "Southern Belle" of the 1800's. While she is initially perceived as "Scarlett O'Hara" type of women it is clear that there is a lot more to her personality then what is initially portrayed. As her story unfolds you find yourself enjoying her growth as a modern woman.
Ruth has lost the love of her life, when her husband died, but she is destined to get move from her pity-party and form a new life for herself and her son. Along the way she discovers the "old' Ruth. The Ruth that had spunk, spirit and will power. Her son learns that his mother is many more things than just a mom.
While this group of wonderful women finally claimed the homestead they longed for...they were also blessed with finding love. Some of the emotions were hard fought and others came easily but regardless they were well deserved by all.
I laughed, cried and prayed with these ladies and wish that if they could walk through the door they would choose me to be a part of their wonderful group. Friendship like this is hard to find...whether in the 1800's or the 21st century.
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Strangely enough, before reading this sappy, cloying fable, I had just finished My Antonia by Willa Cather which I had downloaded on my Kindle for free.
I suggest that anyone wanting to know what it was really like for pioneer women in Nebraska should read that classic, which is also full of gorgeous, beautiful writing and deep psychological insight. You won't be sorry - you will be transported. And it costs not a cent.
Alternatively, read this for cheap, sappy stories with paper-thin characters based on cliches and truisms that demand nothing from the reader and give nothing in return. Read it also for totally superficial religiosity that imagines a world in which all problems can be fixed with a quick prayer.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2011
I've never read much historical fiction. It's not that I'm not a fan of the genre, it's that I've never thought I'd be that interested in reading it.
So when Bethany House Publishers gave me a selection of books to read, I chose Sixteen Brides because I figured the content would interest me. I had no idea it would end up being so great!
Sixteen Brides is by Stephanie Grace Whitson. The book is about 16 widows who make the great trek out to Nebraska in the mid-to-late 1800s in search of a fresh start. What they didn't know is that Mr. Drake, the man who takes them out West, is planning on selling them off as brides. The women split up and half of them stay in Plum Grove where they meet a wide array of characters and set out to make a homestead, together.
This book was far better than I expected. I was actually amazed at the story-lines Whitson has put together and the amount of detail she gives us about Plum Grove. Overall, I'd give it a 4/5. Excellent story.
I am a part of the book reviewer program with Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own and the book was free for review purposes.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2011
This started out as a great book. The characters are engaging and the plot moves swiftly enough to satisfy the intelligent reader. Then about three quarters through, the proselytizing takes center stage at the expense of credibility. I don't object to the religious content; I just don't find it believable. Maybe cowhands really did spout scripture in this time period, but the odds that they did so in the flowery prose used here are simply not very good. If you're looking for believable Christian historical fiction, this isn't it.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2010
Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.
"With the promise of prime homesteads and fresh starts, sixteen Civil War widows uproot and move out West. But they soon find that more than land is awaiting their arrival.
When the women finally stumble off the train, they are greeted by the local bachelors--eager to propose marriage! As the true motive behind the offered land is revealed, the women muster all the faith, courage, and cunning they can to survive their new circumstances."
An ok, alright book. It was hard keeping track of 16 people from the beginning. I had to keep referring back to the beginning throughout the book to remember who was who. Two chapters in, it was mainly about seven "brides", still a lot of people to remember. Some of the "brides'" histories were more developed than others, even up until the end of the book. I think it was too many main characters in one book to develop well and have it be a good, smooth story line.
I didn't particularly care for it, but know others who have read it that did enjoy it.