Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands by Cynthia Hickey, Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Carrie Fancett Pagels and Gina Welborn, is a collection of novellas by seven authors who provide the "voices" in our story. The Civil War was a brutal war in our nation's history, creating widows and orphan of untold numbers. It is spring in the year 1865 and in Turtle Springs Kansas, the women left behind are tired eking out a living and barely getting by. They band together to solve the shortage of men by placing an ad for mail-order husbands. Men travel from far and wide for the chance to be interviewed for the honor of courting the husband hunting women. Imagine a little town of 223 with so many bachelors converging at once that a tent city is constructed near town. Every man had a different reason for answering the ad but none so sweet as the ones who were featured in this collection.
I liked having the continuity of the story crossing each novella. Each author built on the main story yet added her own rich style to the mix. Each story had a different aspect that made each couple unique. Reluctant grooms and grooms who still felt the wounds of war each shared a deep love for the woman they married.
Historical elements like the one used by Carrie Fancett
Pagels in The Dime Novel by adding soldiers traveling to real life Fort Mackinac through Turtle Springs during that era add an interesting element to the stories. Little extras added to the story kept me hooked and drove me to search for more history online.
While this collection is fiction it is indeed true that the hardships of war can be felt long after men come home to their families to pick up their lives. For the many women and children left behind it was such a devastating loss to run the farm, run businesses and keep the family going when their man didn't make it home.
Many thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy to review this book. I enjoy American fiction and this book gave me new insight to the Civil War. While the book is definitely entertaining, I can't help but think of the untold stories of women who lived through the years after the war ended.