Catherine Richmond’s Spring for Susannah
With no prospects for marriage and her parents recently deceased, Susannah agrees to go west to the Dakota territory to marry her minister's homesteading brother, Jesse Mason. But Susannah is painfully shy, doesn't see herself as worthy of love from either a husband or from God, and lives in constant fear that Jesse is going to ship her back to Detroit.
In spite of her petite size and the fact that Susannah doesn't look like she could survive on the prairie, Jesse quickly discovers that his new wife is a greater blessing than he even hoped for. The years she spent as her father's veterinary assistant allow her to save Jesse's ox and twin calves and to help neighboring farmers with their animals.
But Susannah's feelings of unworthiness are deeply rooted, and she can't believe that Jesse's praise-or the tenderness and love he shows-could possibly last. The thawing of her heart seems almost as distant as Spring in the midst of the winter blanketing the Dakota prairie.
1. Character: Jesse was charming from the first moment he met Susannah. I enjoyed his character a great deal. Susannah, albeit living in this story centuries before me, is very relevant to women like me. Her self condemnation, feelings of inadequacies, not seeing her value… that’s what makes this story compelling for an African American woman living in Atlanta (me.)
2. Plot: This story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. No surprises.
3. Style/Tone: Richmond has an elegance to her storytelling that I admire. It fit very well with a historical romance set in the Dakotas.
4. Setting/Theme: I enjoyed learning about Dakota Territory, particularly Oriska, North Dakota when it was a part of Fourth Siding. One of my challenges with modern women’s historical fiction is the notion that revising history for the sake of not dealing with the hard stuff works or keeps it pretty for women readers to digest. Revisionist history in works like Cold Mountain, The Help unnecessarily glosses over important issues that would make the story even more compelling. In this case Richmond, did the opposite and I applaud her for that.It was a perfect balance of grounding us into a realist backdrop of the time of Custer, the Maldan Indians, Reconstruction, and the expansion of the western territory.
5. Voice/Orthodoxy: The Christian Worldview doesn’t overwhelm or plod the plot. There is a very good balance of storytelling and spiritual takeaway.
Spring of Susannah was pitch perfect and hit every point I look for in a novel. Kudos! 5 Stars