In Sixteen Brides, Stephanie Grace Whitson brings together 16 women who have, literally, nothing left to lose. The sixteen, from a variety of backgrounds, situations and cities, were thrown a lifeline of hope - they could travel to faraway, unpopulated Nebraska, and homestead their own land. The idea that a woman could own property was so astonishing and thrilling, empowering and liberating that they took the chance despite knowing no one there, and knowing nothing about the terrain or climate.
Before you go dreading the idea of following sixteen women's lives through their pioneering in Nebraska, know that the number (without anything depressing occurring, just fyi) drops down to a much more manageable five. It is those five women, one young son, and a sprinkling of townspeople that we follow on the rest of the journey through horrible snowstorms, firestorms, soddy building, town store competitions, bronco busting and, yes, romance.
Though each character has their own unique issues to overcome, with all involved the themes seem to revolve around transformation, forgiveness, grace, love and starting over and the wonderful overall message that it's never too late to be what you might have been (not a quote used in the story but one of my favorites).
Interesting historical detail and the diversity of the characters and the way in which they handled their personal demons made this a rich, fascinating story that I really enjoyed. There were times when I wished to hear more about certain characters than others and times when things felt the plot was moving more slowly but would I recommend? Yes. I really enjoy Whitson's writing (my first book review here was her A Claim of Her Own) and I continually look forward to reading her books.
This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for the purposes of reviewing, but my opinion is ever my own.